Living On Purpose    ...Life Coaching
Living On Purpose

Archive for the ‘time management’ Category

Saying YES and Saying NO

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Feeling “out of balance” seems to be the American Way. We are pulled and stretched in many directions, and keeping it all in balance becomes quite a challenge. Yet when we consciously choose which things are most important and which things must go, balance is attainable.

Finding balance means putting the things you value most as a priority, which can leave you feeling empowered and fulfilled. When you are “in balance,” things that are not as important don’t command as much (if any) of your energy and time. When “less important” things begin to take over, you tend to feel out of balance.

Finding balance is a constant process. It’s not some equilibrium that is maintained magically once you find it. Every time you consider beginning or ending something, by definition, the balance will be disturbed. You are saying YES to something and NO to something else. Life is made up of choices and those choices define your life.

When taking on more responsibilities or activities, it’s important to recognize what you are saying YES or NO to. If you are spending your time and energy in one place, you cannot be spending it in another– at the same time. For example, if you volunteer (saying YES), there is something you are giving up (saying NO to) – somewhere you won’t be when you are volunteering.

“They all seem important,” my client Sandy said to me. “There are the kids’ activities, a full time career, volunteer work, the relationship with my husband, and I’m taking classes at the local college,” she explained. “Now I’m being offered an opportunity to present a workshop. It’s something I’ve always been interested in pursuing,” Sandy said as she presented the scale-tipping invitation. “I really want to do it but can barely handle what I have on my plate now. What should I do?”

A powerful exercise I do with clients is called, “Powerful YESes and NOs.” To best evaluate the choices, we look at what the client is saying YES to and what he/she is saying NO to. Something has to give. It can be other activities, time with family or friends, or possibly getting less sleep. The time must come from somewhere else.

As we went through the topics, it was clear what resonated with Sandy’s purpose vs. what she felt she “should do.” I even had her say the statements both ways, “I should

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teach this workshop,” versus, “I could teach this workshop.” By simply changing the word, “should” to “could,” she realized that she really did have a choice.

By choosing to look at what she would be taking on (saying YES to) and what she would be releasing (saying NO to), the decision points came more clearly into focus.

One of my favorite sayings is, “You can have it all, but it might not be all at once.” Something might be exciting but doesn’t fit into your schedule. To save this opportunity, but not give up your time and energy right now, start an IDEA file to store the information. At some point, look through your IDEA file to see if anything should be re-considered. If not, you retain the information and can go back to it at any time.

Almost any opportunity – if it’s meant to be – will still be available when the timing is right.

Coaching Challenge: When you are presented with an idea of adding something new into your life, first try it on to experience how it “feels.” If it feels exciting and worth evaluating, then look at the YESes and NOs. In making this decision, what are you saying YES to and what are you saying NO to? Is it worth it right now to make this commitment? If it is worth it, then do it. If not, tuck this opportunity away in your IDEA file to be re-considered later. This will help you to keep the important things in your life at top priority and keep you from diluting your time and energy. In other words, it will help you to maintain balance. Also look at the things that you are currently saying YES to that may be a “should” vs. what you truly desire. Practice saying NO to the things that bring you down or take energy away from you so you can say YES to your true priorities.

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I've Had Enough!

Monday, November 9th, 2009

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Our nurturing instinct can sometimes go on overdrive. We become a walking caretaker, unable to let anyone need anything.  This works fine until you run out of patience, energy or become downright resentful.

“I’ve had it!” Angela said. “I am so busy taking care of everyone else’s needs that I neglect my own.”

Angela is married to Brent and has two kids, one in middle school and one in high school. Although trained as a paralegal, she has not worked outside of the home since her youngest was in Kindergarten. Angela’s full time job is managing her family. Her husband’s career requires long hours and some travel, which gives Angela even more responsibility with the family.

She continued, “The other day Brent came home and wondered why dinner wasn’t on the table; Sue wanted help with her homework and Sam needed help finding his book report form. My temper was up that day. Sue had called from school; she had forgotten her science project. It took me 45 minutes to take it to her.”

“Then I raced home because Sam’s uniform was in the wash and he needed it for a game that night. And, to top it all off, I needed to stop by the place my mom is living to sign some paperwork. Just when I think I can’t do one more thing, each member of my family needs something more from me!”

Usually even-tempered, I could see Angela was at her boiling point.

“As I do more for them, they expect more. Just because I don’t work outside of the home, people assume that I have an open schedule. I’d like to challenge them to live in my shoes for a day. I guarantee they would change their tunes.”

“You sound frustrated and unappreciated,” I said.

“If it doesn’t change, I’m moving to Mexico and they can all fend for themselves!” she joked.

“What would their lives be like if they did fend for themselves? What are some tasks that you are performing that they could do themselves?” I asked.

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She immediately listed duties that she had been doing that they could easily assume. “Brent could make lunches. Each of them could collect their own laundry.” The list easily came together. It even included people outside of her family, situations where Angela’s tendency to say “yes” had gotten her over-committed.

“How will you communicate this shift of responsibility to the people who need to know?” I asked.

“I will talk to my husband and ask for his support. At our next family dinner, I will talk to the kids about how the household responsibilities are changing.” Angela added, “For people outside of the family, I will call to let them know. I’ll give enough notice so they can find someone else.”

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“That sounds great!” I said. “Is there anything else that will make this situation better?”

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“Since I have given up a lot of my time, I will add in two hours a week to do something for me.”

“Let’s check in at our next coaching session to see how the conversations go and how well you are doing taking time for yourself,” I suggested.

“Maybe now I’ll have time to get in my workouts and finally lose the extra ten pounds I’ve been carrying.”

“Perhaps once you release all of this extra responsibility, you will feel as though you’ve lost ten pounds,” I said smiling.

Coaching Challenge:  If you are overwhelmed by tasks you do for other people, make a list of your major responsibilities. Review the list to see what you are doing that someone else could do. If he/she is unable to complete the entire task, possibly he/she can do part of it. For example, a young son may not be able to do laundry, but he can get the clothes to the laundry room. Once you have created your list, communicate to each person which tasks you are giving back. Explain why you have made this decision and be open to teaching them about how to complete the task.  Enjoy your new freedom!

Keeping Your Pitcher Full

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

water pitcherJan dove into our coaching session by talking about how busy she had been lately. Being a stay-at-home mom, there weren’t slow times or busy seasons as may be the case in a business office. Every day was just as busy as the day before. The dynamics and schedule may change from day-to-day, but she was still responsible for managing the household and raising her kids while her husband, Jeff, worked.

“Yesterday my schedule was completely off,” she began. “I thought I had it all planned, but then Danny woke up with a fever. Not able to take him to day care threw a wrench in my whole day. Jeff was unable to help and my mom is out of town.”

She continued to explain the craziness and got even more exhausted as she recounted her story. Listening helped because it gave her a space in which to vent.

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I then interrupted her and asked, “Jan, how are YOU in all of this?” She paused and immediately shifted from telling the story, to getting present with her feelings.

Jan looked at me and swallowed the words that were halfway out her mouth. “How am I?” she asked as she looked down, a slight break in her voice. “I haven’t slowed down long enough to know,” Jan said. “No one ever asks how I am.” She said.

I asked again, “Jan, how are you?”

“I’m sorry I’m so emotional,” she said grabbing a tissue. “People just don’t normally ask how I am doing. My life is about asking others how they are doing and being in service to their needs. Take the kids for example. My energy starts flowing the second I get up in the morning.”

“Where else does your energy flow out?” I asked.

“All over the place!” she said. “It’s amazing I have any left at the end of the day.  I feel empty.”

“Since you were talking about flow and feeling empty, let’s play with the analogy of a water pitcher,” I suggest. “This morning when you got up, how full was your pitcher?”

“I slept well last night so my pitcher was about three-quarters full this morning.”

“It’s about 4 o’clock now.  Based on the stories you told me earlier, how full is your water pitcher now?” I asked.

She held up her fingers about an inch apart to symbolize that the water level in her “pitcher” had dropped significantly.

“How do you fill your pitcher? You mentioned sleep, but what else and how often do you get to fill it?”

“I fill my pitcher by going to the bookstore, enjoying a movie, reading my book, and once a month, I get girls’ night out,” Jan said smiling.

“If your pitcher today is nearly empty, how and when will you fill it?” I asked.

“That’s the problem. I continually pour water from my pitcher and rarely fill it up. It’s no wonder I get irritated; I’m empty most of the time!” Jan said.

“How can you remind yourself to fill your water pitcher so you have enough water to pour for others?” I said, continuing the analogy.

“I will fill a pitcher and set it on my kitchen counter to remind me to keep monitoring my water levels and keep my pitcher full.”

“How will you fill it tonight so you start tomorrow with enough water?”

“I’ll stop by the bookstore on my way home and take a nice warm bath tonight after the kids go to bed. I’ll even email you tomorrow to let you know I did it. I know how you are about accountability.”

As we closed our session, I handed Jan a water bottle and said, “Here’s to filling your pitcher.”

Coaching Challenge:  Use the water pitcher analogy to measure your energy levels. Pretend as though you started today with a full pitcher of water. Where did you pour water (energy) out of your pitcher and where did you fill it? Notice how full is the pitcher when you go to bed and again when you wake up. How can you continue to add enough water to keep the pitcher full?