Are you living YOUR life, the life you want to live? Are you so busy that you constantly “don’t have time?” To whom and to what are you giving your time? What beliefs drive your actions? Have you ever thought about this? Does life have to be this hectic? Do you want a different life, but don’t believe it’s possible?
How would you feel if you could have a different life, the one you want to live? Would you dare to take action (or less action)? What if you knew that once you climbed the hill and descended into the valley of your changes, that you could experience a more fulfilling and joyous life? Let’s take a peak over the hill together…
That Sucking Sound
Have you ever felt that the joy was sucked out of your life long ago? Oh, there are the moments of laughter and a few smiles, but overall life seems like a treadmill. You are not alone in feeling this way. Our style of living here in the West has us living a life in constant motion with no time for reflection and rejuvenation. It’s someone else’s life, a life of “shoulds.”
You should do this.
You should be that.
You should have this.
You should fear that.
And if you’re not, well then you’re just not quite measuring up, are you? And so to meet these “shoulds” we run around like crazy doing this, buying that, and never really feeling like we’re living the life we want. We figure we’ll live the life of our dreams when we retire, but tomorrow is never guaranteed, so why do we put off our happiness?
Most people believe this rule: “if you’re not measuring up, then you’re not allowed to be happy.” (Notice how you may do this. Example: If you’re not “thin enough” then you don’t allow yourself to be happy. Insert any of these //rich enough//productive enough// big enough house// right job// right spouse-partner// finished to-do list//etc. ) But, the problem is, although we may measure up here and there, we never really arrive at that perfect ideal of “doing, being, owning, worrying.” There’s always more we can do.
More, more, more brings less, less, less true happiness. (Tweet this)
I’d like to share a passage from “Life’s Operating Manual: With the Fear and Truth Dialogues” by Tom Shadyac:
“What if I told you that you are more than likely asleep. And by asleep, I mean that your thoughts may not be your own, that you are in all probability under the influence, even under the control, of someone else. …
Never before in history have human beings become subject to so many sources of influence……computer screens, our televisions, even our phones….e-mails, a magazine….everywhere we turn someone is selling something, pushing a product, a promise, a lifestyle. And the theme that undergirds these messages is clear. We are told not that we already are someone, beautiful in the eyes of a loving Creator, but that we have to be someone. ‘Here’s what success looks like! It wears a suit and a tie and comes with a certain income, job status, and body type.’ …..The message is transparent and telling: as currently constituted, we do not measure up.” – Tom Shadyac
So what can you do? How to make a change?
Start by taking an inventory of how and where and why you spend your time. (After we finish this exercise, we’ll see where you can change your habits to be more in line with your soul’s true desire and where you can remove/replace some limiting beliefs you have picked up along the journey of life.)
Time Analysis Exercise
Think of your average day and put together some approximations of how you spend your time. You could observe and record your daily activities for a few days if you choose, but likely you can just put together some quick estimates to get an overview of how you are spending your precious time. Just be as honest as possible.
Here are some common daily activities you can measure to get you started. Download & print these Daily Activities and write down next to each one how much time you spend on each per day. There are blank spots on the downloadable worksheet where you can add other activity categories.
For each activity ask yourself if you are spending the amount of time that you want, that is good for your body and soul. Then put a check mark. For each activity that you think needs a change put an X.
- Personal hygiene
- Clothes – getting dressed, buying clothes, cleaning clothes,
- Preparing food
- Buying food
- Your Work Job
- Hours that are productive
- Hours that are unproductive due to you should leave and get some rest but instead in a state of exhaustion you just keep plugging away.
- Your Home Jobs (garbage, laundry, outdoor maintenance, cleaning, doing dishes, etc)
- Watching TV – shows you really enjoy and enrich your life according to what you value
- Watching TV – things that don’t enrich your life, but just serve as “relaxation” or “filler”
- Surfing the Web
- Emails – personal
- Emails – entertainment/subscriptions
- Emails – solicitations
- Paying Bills
- Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/ Social Media
- Browsing catalogs whether in print or online
- Reading – magazines
- Reading – the news
- Reading – topics that really matter to you
- Reading to your children
- Conversations with your children (where you are fully present)
- Conversations with your partner (where you are fully present)
- Conversations with friends
- Conversations with family members
- Conversations with new people
- Creativity activities (fill in the blank – writing, art, crafts, building things, creating ideas, etc)
- Music activities – singing, dancing, playing music
- Moving your body – exercise, yoga, gardening, dancing
- Social events you want to participate in
- Social events you feel obligated to participate in
- Bringing your child to activities you think really have a positive influence for your child
- Bringing your children to activities you think are just being busy, not truly loved by your child, and therefore not adding meaningful value to your child.
- Taking care of possessions –
- Caring for your home – to “good enough”, to “tidy/clean” to “perfection”
- Caring for your photos
- Organizing music, videos
- Filing papers
- Putting all your things away (so many things we own!!! Books, gadgets, chargers, tablets, phones, papers, mail,
- Travel – both local and far
- Learning something new
- Volunteering/Helping Others
- Spiritual practice (church, group meetings, prayer, reading, etc.)
- Driving time
- Activities you dream of doing but never get to (writing a novel, learning to play guitar, making a piece of furniture, sewing a quilt, starting a business, creating a group centered around an interest of yours, volunteering)
I’m sure there are more that aren’t listed here, but this list is a good start. You don’t have to have exact numbers in each of these categories, but give each one some thought.
Questions to consider:
- Do I like the level of time I spend in this area?
- If not, how would you like to change that? More or less?
- Why are you spending time on the activity the way you do now? What belief or accepted rule drives that?
- Could you change your belief? Could you establish new rules?
- Is it simply a matter of habit? If so, habits can be changed with a bit of focus and persistence.
- For each activity marked to change ask:
- How much more/less time you want to spend.
- When can you fit it in?
- What can you eliminate to fit it in?
For each activity you want to DECREASE ask:
- Why do I do this activity?
- What beliefs motivate doing this? Are those beliefs correct? Do those beliefs support me or limit me?
- Could I choose a different belief?
- Does this activity bring me any value? If not, perhaps eliminate it.
For example: social engagements. Your schedule is over run with them. Why can’t you say no?
- Fear you might lose friends.
- Fear you’ll be missing out on networking opportunities.
- Fear of missing out on fun.
To counter these you might determine: I will say yes to 1 social event per week or per month and only if it meets certain criteria.
To say no, just say that. “Thank you, but I won’t be able to attend.” You don’t have to give a reason. That’s all. True friends will remain your friends regardless of how many social events you attend.
Let’s take a look at another example.
Perhaps you find that you are spending too much time on things are aren’t adding much value to your life such as TV, web surfing.
So you might ask “Why do I do this? What is driving my actions?”
Answer might be “I don’t really have a belief around web surfing. It’s just a habit, a compulsion, and escape from my worries and my disappointment that my life isn’t more fulfilling. And with regards to TV, my belief is that it is a relaxing activity.”
Then you ask “Is TV really relaxing?”
If you examine it you may realize: “Watching TV, flipping channels, is not fulfilling and not very relaxing. I get irritated that there is nothing good to watch. Commercials prompt me to eat even when I’m not hungry. The screen keeps my body from it’s normal evening function of winding down and easing into restful sleep. TV keeps me from reading about things that I really enjoy or that inspire me. The news is depressing.”
“I want to be informed, but the amount of news I watch is not enriching my life. It is taking away joy and rest. There are some shows I like that I will still watch, and I still want to keep informed, but I now realize that TV is best for me only in small purposeful doses.”
Think about what is necessary to know and what is mere entertainment, filler, and escape from actually living your life. Fill the cup of your life purposefully first with things that are meaningful, and the filler activities will naturally fall by the wayside.
If the news you receive doesn’t add value to your life, is it actually necessary or at least do you need it as frequently?
For each activity you want to INCREASE ask:
- How much additional time do I want to spend on this?
- When can I realistically fit it in?
The places where you eliminate non-valuable activities can be replaced with valuable activities, the things you really want to be doing, that move you towards your dreams.
The last step is to make a schedule that incorporates these changes into your weekly routine
Activities to Consider
Here are some categories of activities to get you thinking about how you might like to restructure your daily life:
You’ll hear me say this often: Don’t try to change too much at once. Eliminate and add just one or two things a week. Actually, you can eliminate more things more quickly than adding them. Give yourself a month to make a new change into a habit.
If you had 6 to 12 things you wanted to add to your life, you could have them solidly incorporated within 6 to 12 months. Focus daily on each new habit for one month before adding the next one.
Visualize how your life will look and feel in one year from now when you’ve made these changes.
- How will you feel?
- How do you want to feel?
- More at peace?
- Less anxious?
- More relaxed?
- Less scattered?
- Better sleep?
- Less pain and discomfort?
- More energy?
- More fulfilled and joyful?
- Less self judging?
- Making a difference for others?
- What else?
Let these visions be the fuel for your engine as you make these changes. And lastly, be sure to enjoy the journey as you go. Remember this: you are allowed to be happy today – just as you are, just where you are, just with what you have. Smile often. Start with the body and the mind will follow. Cheers!
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