A while back, a few of us chicks talked about something that our collective lives were lacking, and how we’d like to try do better achieve something that so many people struggle to find.
A month has passed. How’s it going? We’ll let you know where we’re at. And then, our awesome and super helpful Chick Jenn will share some tips!
So, going into the month, the goal was less crazy. But, since the universe is kind of a jerk sometimes, and likes to mess with me, life got more crazy. We had our shower, the only one in this 100 year old house, replaced. What was supposed to take less than a week wound up taking 17 days.
4 people. 17 days. 0 working showers. You do the math.
Luckily, we have a membership at the YMCA, which has plenty of showers. So every night, we would all pack up and go over to the Y. And a funny thing happened. Since we were all there anyway, everyone worked out. Weird, huh? And what’s even weirder… they liked it!
Since everyone was there working out with me, I didn’t feel like I was cutting out family time to get a workout in, which was awesome! Was it chaotic to get 4 people packed up, to the gym, worked out, showered and home for dinner? You bet your sweet bippy it was! But, by incorporating family time and exercise, both things were achieved with minimal suffering (although you’d never know the suffering was minimal listening to me whine about my stupid shower remodel).
All of this swell family gym time meant I was moving and grooving right along on my half marathon training plan. The one I painstakingly detailed out for the span of nine months, down to the day. The one I swore I would not change.
Until I had to change it.
I’ll explain more about why I had to make changes, and what they were, in a later post, but let’s just say I was less than pleased. I was SO committed to my plan! It was a very gradual, balanced plan! So when it hit me that changes were needed, there was a part of me that really, really wanted to scrap the whole thing. Including the half marathon. (There’s that black and white thinking we all love so much!)
So I got real with myself. Refusing to let go of something that wasn’t working, or throwing my hands up in the air and saying ‘to hell with it’ just because it wasn’t working the way I planned wasn’t going to get me anywhere. Instead, I did some research, talked to my involuntary running coach (Mer) and reworked the plan. And I accepted that I can only plan so much, so this plan might need adjusting, too. And that’s okay.
Balance. Or the beginnings of it, anyway. Apparently, I don’t have to do it all at once. (Who knew?)
Balance. Where you at?
Well, after a month, it feels like I’ve gotten a lot of things under control. And then there have been a few things that have stayed out of whack.
For the most part, though, it’s been a good start.
1. Meal planning has been ON POINT. Every Sunday, the fridge is full of Tupperware evenly portioned chicken or steak and broccoli. Lunches for the workweek have never been easier, or healthier. Dinners have been planned and if not prepped the night before, at least organized, which makes busy evenings after work and the gym a lot simpler. Meal planning like this has also helped the financial situation, ensuring that our spending is for necessities, instead of last-minute junk because of ill-preparedness.
2. Gym time: awesome. The boy and I started a new training cycle and adjusted our program and while each day is harder than ever before, progress is easy to see. Being able to make strides in the gym is a great release for me after a day at the office. This is one area of my balancing act that I feel really good about.
3. Money, honey. Well. This one is going. Constantly a work in progress, but always seeming to feel like I take one step forward and two steps back. There’s always something that needs fixing or immediate care and that always gives me a hard reality check. But, but making positive changes in other areas of my life, this area becomes more focused and gradually easier to manage. Adulting is hard, but not impossible, and I just have to remember that. Every time I pay bills. Ha.
Reminding myself of the progress I’m making helps me stay positive and find more peace in where I’m at and what I’m doing. Creating a little balance one step at a time.
Last summer, I had my birth chart read by an astrologer. Yes, I know it’s a psuedo-science, but it’s fun dammit. Within seconds, she was lecturing me about overfilling my plate. Not my dinner plate, although that has been an issue as of late. But my life plate. She said I take on too much and it’s taking a toll on my health. Well, I didn’t really need a psychic to tell me this. Anyone who has ever seen my Google calendar knows I have a tendency to schedule every free moment of my life. I’ve made it my mission this month to say no. That’s it. It seems really easy, right? WRONG. It’s so hard for me. I hate disappointing people. For example, this weekend my family had plans for the zoo on Saturday and the beach on Sunday. I had a cake to make on Friday and homework due today. And still, for some reason, when I was approached to do another cake for Saturday, I contemplated taking on the job.
NO! I had to yell at myself.
That was a few weeks ago. I’ve turned down a couple other activities that I’m really disappointed to miss, and when I see my everyone on Facebook enjoying these activities, I’m going to regret it. However, I have to strive for that balance of work, play, and REST. I’ve never been very good at that last part. On average, I sleep maybe 4-6 hours a night. I fill every moment and I still don’t have time to do all the things I want to do.
This week is my Spring Break from work. I have five days off work and I intend to rest. I intend to say no. And do all the laundry I’ve been putting off.
Last week I posted
about my family’s quest for a new house and my quest for achieving zen-like thinking in regards to do this. What’s been helping me with that?
My focus has been on beginning each day with gratitude and reminding myself that all things will work out with this. I know that moving ranks highly among the most stressful situations and I can say with much certainty that after we do this, I hope we are in our new house for a very long time because while this is exciting the pendulum has also swung toward the chaotic side.
However, we are very lucky. We are in a good position and we are moving on up! I’m not exactly sure where we are moving on up to, just yet, but we’ll figure it out.
I’m tapping into love every morning; whether it be making coffee for my husband as he runs out the door on his way to work, a kiss from my kiddos, a snuggle with my dog on the couch, or a text from a friend reminding me that I’m as valuable to them as they are to me.
Keeping my routine as similar as it can be with the additional things thrown in is what has been keeping me sane. I’m also not volunteering for every single thing that comes my way (trust me, that’s a challenge) because I can’t add little things into my life right now with a big thing going on. That’s not to say that I’m not overextending myself because I am… but I’m very conscious of what I’m taking on and also what I’m unable to tackle.
Thus far I’ve only had one emotional breakdown and my mom in law was the lucky recipient of that fun little time. While I wailed to her on the phone, she listened and offered up different solutions that only made me feel slightly better. Then she asked if I would like her to pray over me and the situation. That helped tremendously and brought me back to the calmness that I’ve been trying hard to maintain throughout this process. And for that? I’m grateful.
Like everyone else on the planet, I suffer from lack of balance in my life. My balance deficit doesn’t arise from commitments of kids and having a family, rather, I suffer from interest overload. Between working, wife-ing, doggy mom-ing, schooling, running, volunteering, yoga, writing, sewing, teaching myself to play the guitar, and learning French via Duolingo, I don’t have much time for balance.
This was a problem. I could tell because my forehead broke out in tiny little stress pimples from feeling constantly overwhelmed. Something had to change. I knew what my problem was, I just didn’t have the tools to see the forest through all my trees. I needed to learn how to thin my forest.
Through my employer, I enrolled in two classes: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and The 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity. Here are a few takeaways that have really helped me find more balance.
Accept That Some Things Will Not Get Done. It was so liberating to hear the trainer say that. To hear someone acknowledge that in this era of technology and over commitment, it’s just not possible to get everything done, AND THAT’S OKAY. Some things in life are truly important and focusing on them is what really matters. When you’re eighty and looking back over your life, you won’t be reminiscing about how beautifully you scrubbed your floors (says the girl who spent five years working in a nursing home). Gain some perspective about what really matters to you in the grand scheme of your life.
Create a Personal Mission Statement. Develop a mission statement that speaks to your highest purpose and biggest goals. Your statement is not set in stone it should grow and change with you and your goals. Then, use your mission statement to make time management choices. When faced with a decision about taking on a new obligation, task, or interest, ask yourself if it will serve your mission statement. This is a great tool for learning to say “no” to things. Franklin Covey has an online tool to help you build your Mission Statement.
Jenn’s Mission Statement
Roles and Goals. This is a hallmark of the 7 Habits program. It helps you identify what the major roles are in your life and develop goals to be the best you can be in each role. Roles can be things like mother, husband, sister, friend, runner, volunteer, President of the official runDisney fan club, etc. Your roles should serve your mission statement, too. If they don’t, consider cutting them from your life. Then, create some goals to be better in your roles. You might say, “I’m going to be a better runner and shave 7 minutes off my time by adding additional tempo runs in my training plan.” The next challenge is to make time for that extra run in your week, or in other words, making time to execute on your goals. I use a planner to schedule specific blocks of time to execute those goal tasks; what 7 Habits calls “the big rocks”. After the class, I purchased the 5 Choices Planner, and I seriously LOVE IT. I assigned a color to each of my roles, so when I’m planning my week, I can easily tell if I’m giving some attention to each role.
I love this planner because it has worksheets to help develop roles and goals as well as master tasks.
4 Types of Work: Extraordinary, Urgent, Required, Waste. This technique is from the 5 Choices class. Imagine your time is divided into 4 quadrants as illustrated by the graphic below. The graphic is geared toward work life, but you get the idea. The goal is to live in Q2, extraordinary work, as much as possible. Extraordinary work is things that support your mission statement and roles and goals. Things like training runs and workouts are extraordinary work. Things like household chores are Q3, distraction. Your child getting the flu is Q1. Binge watching Game of Thrones all weekend? Definitely Q4. You want your quadrants to be much more green than gray. If this were a pie chart, you’d want decrease the size of the urgent, required, and waste slices so you can spend most of your time on extraordinary work.
Photo Credit; Franklin Covey
I hope this helps you form a plan to be the best, least-stressed version of you that you can be! Make time to feed your soul and nourish the things and people who are most important to you. Don’t forget to keep perspective on what really matters!