I continually remind myself of this truth. Too often, I tell myself, “I’ll have time for this when summer comes,” “Things will slow down in the fall, and I’ll be able to tackle this,” “Next year, I’ll do it.”
No. Now is the time to do the things that are important to me.
It’s false to believe that there will be more time in my future than there has in my past.
How about you? Do you promise yourself, “I’ll do this — later?”
We all have a right to say no. Most of us are used to hearing this phrase in terms of drug use or consent (“Just say no!” and “No means no!”). Many of us feel as though we are obligated to do things, or that if we commit to something, we cannot change our minds and back out. This is false. We have the ability to make our own decisions, and to say no whenever we feel we need to.
Saying no can be hard! There are people that we want to impress, and a lot of the time, we truly don’t mind doing something for a person here or there. There are some of us however that feel overwhelmed with how much we have agreed to do, and we find ourselves unable to say no. Perhaps we want to seem like we are always willing to help, or we want to give a good impression of ourselves. Maybe, we don’t even realize that our problem is saying yes to everything. The good news is that there is always room to grow. Continue reading →
My father likes to explain life using a juggling metaphor. “Life is all about juggling glass and wooden balls. Sometimes you can’t keep all of them in the air. The trick to being successful is that if you have to drop any balls, make sure they are the wooden ones.” If a wooden ball drops on the floor, it’ll just roll away whereas the glass ones will break and cause an even bigger mess. So now not only do you have to juggle, but you have to watch your feet so you don’t step on any of the shards. Inevitably that will cause you to drop all the balls – and that’s a full fledged level 5 disaster.
I’ve always found that metaphor useful when I’m starting to feel stressed out. Like recently as I’ve been trying to finish projects for the end of my first quarter of school, scheduling blogs, making appointments with my over-priced personal trainer, writing stories for my storytelling seminar… It gets to be a bit much. And I’m not even trying to pretend to be like many of you who are juggling jobs, children, relationships with everything else.
Those responsibilities can grow exponentially during the holiday season when you add buying gifts, cooking family meals, sending out Christmas cards, making that pot luck dish for the office party – it never ends. So how do you deal with it? Get out a piece of paper and start identifying what balls you have in the air.
How do you tell if something is a glass ball? If you answer yes to any of the following questions, it’s glass.
Is this essential to me paying my bills at the end of the month (aka keeping my job, etc)?
Does not doing this negatively affect my health or the health/safety of those around me?
Is this essential to the happiness and stability of my family (or for you personally)?
If it does not fall into one of those categories, no matter what pressure anyone else is putting on you – it’s a wooden ball. This means the world isn’t actually going to end if one of them drops, even if it seems that way. However, there are still more important wooden balls than others and prioritizing them will only help you further. Try these tips for figuring out the most important tasks.
Order the tasks by timeline (what has to be done the soonest?)
Tackle the tasks that will take the most time and effort first (as you complete one hard task it’ll only energize you to tackle the others)
Are there any tasks that completing them will make the others easier? These definitely go first!
Which tasks reap the largest rewards? Whether that’s time with family (or for yourself!), financially, or space in your calendar – line them up in order of payoff.
At this point you should have a good idea of the essentials and know the order of your task list. Now you can get started, and if the clock starts winding down and you know you aren’t going to get to everything – start dropping from the bottom. It’s all wood, you’re going to be okay. Breathe. Keep tossing and catching. Toss and catch. One at a time and steadily the list gets smaller and smaller until you get down to only the essential balls that hopefully will feel by instinct at this point so you can rest.
How do you determine your glass and wooden balls? Leave your tips below!
“If we actually believe half the shit we talk and write about, why are we worried? It’s all going to be what it’s supposed to be, isn’t it?” This was what I said to my best friend Cate the other day as we yammered on to each other about the woes in our life – you know, money woes, men woes, kids woes, work woes– whatever woes. Of course we attempted to add in our very aware and very spiritual observations, just to make sure that even though we were whining and worrying, we were being enlightened about it.
Such as me stating my desire to be in love – followed by self eviscerating examination as to why I need to be in love, judging myself for wanting to be in love; all of which is true. I do have issues with love (I’m going to go out on a limb here and make a very generalized statement- which is probably very true- most of us have issues with love) but I also want to be in love, because love is fun. I have a much better understanding of myself and what love means to me and my desire for love is pretty freakin’ normal.
Is it possible for me to hold both concepts: Desiring love because it’s normal to want to share your life with someone and desiring love because I have issues I’d like to work through regarding love? They actually work together, if I stopped trying to blow one of them up in the name of enlightenment and just have some fun with love, explore love, try on love. Do I have to wait until I have all my love stuff worked out before I can be in love? And if I do, how exactly can I do that? Seriously not looking for another class or seminar or book, I swear I’ve read them all, and I learn by doing!
I spent some time with another friend whose life is in a big transition. She has an entire list of things that need to happen before she can do the things she really wants to do. There is no room for either or, nor both simultaneously- it’s this way first and then she can have that. She’s not capable of seeing that it’s possible to have a mixed up convoluted version of both. Life is convoluted! There is life in-between the pages of your plan!
It’s true that sometimes you have to follow a recipe. Having a plan is a good thing; I like plans, but I spent an awful lot of my life planning and organizing and waiting for things to happen that were in my plan so I could do the next thing only to have wasted that time and missed out because I was so locked into my plan, which eventually blew up because I was, okay I admit it, attached to my plan.
It sort of goes back to that old myth “Wait until you’re ready to have kids.” Is anyone ever really ready to have kids? You might think you are and then you have one and you’re like “Shit I was not ready for this!”
Last year I had a plan and almost nothing in my plan actually happened, at least not exactly. But here’s the interesting thing: all the things my plan represented happened, but not in the way in which I had actually planned them. Huh, go figure.
Which brings me back to my original question – if I were to live my life, with the understanding and acceptance that my life is going exactly as it should because I am following my true souls desire and trusting in that, and then of course planning (you have to plan a little) but being very clear about what my desire really is and then being open to what might come that isn’t in my master plan- but is my ultimate, true plan, then everything is going to be okay.
In my own life I have come to see the beauty in the chaos of plans unraveled. People often desire balance. We are often told to find it as if it’s something to look for. We like it when things happen the way we think they should. It makes us feel like we have balance and everything is under control. And sometimes that works- but really let’s get real, how often does it really happen that way?
Life is full of duality for which I don’t think you can find balance per se – balance means to equally distribute, and I don’t feel like my humanness equally distributes. It flows from one to the other and it holds each as possible and not possible and all possible. When I hold to tightly to one way another invariably gets jealous and puts a monkey wrench on my plan, thus causing me to feel completely out of control and unbalanced, and things start to fall apart. Once I finally allowed myself to live and breath and accepted that life is utterly unbalanced, I have no control, and only strive to know and to learn my true souls desire, have I found a steady wire to walk on.
As an entrepreneur with two young daughters and who holds family time as sacred time, runs a small tech-firm by day and, by night, works passionately building a second venture with a mission to empower others, I am constantly being asked, “How the heck do you balance it all?”
The truth is …. I don’t! And, before you click off this article thinking ‘well, thanks for nothing, lady’, just hear me out here! Nobody does. The word “balance” itself implies that some sort of destination has finally been met where the weight of one’s life has been distributed evenly in every regard: career, family, health, personal growth, relationships, self-care, etc. And, in this line of thinking, since you’ve already arrived, there is no need for improvement in any of these areas. But, it just doesn’t work that way! Even if all things are perfectly balanced for a moment (hooray!) – don’t blink because it just takes one of life’s infamous little curve balls to be thrown our way to completely knock everything out of whack.
So, instead, I personally work towards balancing my life. That little “ing” at the end of the word is oh so important. It implies that an action is taking place. And, balancing your life takes a lot of action. Daily action, even. It’s about developing a strong sense of awareness and checking in with yourself and your beloved ones on a regular basis to identify any areas that can use improvement. Are you getting enough quality times with the kids? Is your spouse feeling loved or neglected? Is your career or business running as smoothly as you would like? How are you feeling physically? Emotionally? Stressed? Are you feeling fulfilled at a soul level?
Keeping all of the balls in the air is no easy feat … especially if you are diving fully into the person you want to be. And, frankly, some days will be better than others. As humans we can only try our best. But, it is important to work consistently towards that sense of balance so that you can help others, take care of yourself, and make your impact in the world as stress-free and full of joy and love as possible.
When any one area of your life is significantly off-balance, it throws you off in every other aspect, taking you out of your “A” game and making you feel a little less awesome than you actually are.
Here are a few guidelines that will help you to maintain the harmony, peace, and balance in your life that we all yearn for!
Be your beautiful authentic self. You have to let go of any preconceived notions of what your life is “supposed” to look like. Definitely steer clear of comparing yourself to others. We all have different paths, circumstances, and dreams. What works for others might not work for you. Instead, focus on what you stand for. What is the impact YOU want to make in the world? Learn to be totally comfortable in your own authenticity. If there’s an area of your life that you are not completely satisfied with, then put in the work to change it! But, only do it because it aligns with your soul’s calling, not because it will make somebody else happy. You will never feel peace living the life somebody else has envisioned for you.
Accept with Gratitude. Life isn’t perfect. It gets messy sometimes – for all of us. So, we all need to learn how to dance in the storm. Your house is not always going to be spotless, you won’t be able to attend every single social event, you’re inevitably going to let your spouse or your kids down every once in awhile, and you may need to pass up on some seemingly awesome business opportunities. Being okay with that, accepting the imperfections, and seeing the beauty of your life with intense gratitude no matter what will give you that sense of balance even in chaotic times.
Prioritize. At this moment, what is most important to you? What or who lights you up? Are you spending a good amount of your time with the people that you love deeply and working on the projects you feel most passionate about? If not, where might you be a little off balance and need to pay more attention? Is there something sucking up a lot of your time that just doesn’t serve you or drive you closer to your vision? It may be time to cut back in some areas. (Yes, I’m talking to you Facebook and TV!) And, most importantly, are you carving out some time for yourself too? Remember: If you crash and burn from not taking care of yourself, you won’t be any good to anybody else either.
Plan. Schedule everything! And, don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to opportunities. Spontaneity sounds lovely, but reality is that if you have big dreams include balancing all aspects of your life, you must plan accordingly! I use technology to my advantage here with digital calendars that sync up to my apple products. Everything from date night to kids schedules to business meetings and workouts to when I am going to write (which is also planned in a separate editorial calendar) all get put on the schedule. I then have reminders pop up to keep me on task. Take some of the pressure off yourself by extensively planning your days. Take time to step back and look at your big picture. Then take a step back in and plan out all the details. Whatever works for you, just use it consistently.
Check your Slices. A fun activity is to do is a goal wheel where you draw a circle and divide it up into even sections, like a pie cut into slices. Each section represents an area of your life. Perhaps your “slices” would be named: family, career, fun, personal growth, spiritual, relationships, self-care, money, etc, or whatever resonates with you. How much energy are you putting into each area and how satisfied do you feel? It’s normal to have a slice or two that are totally dominating while others are just a few puny crumbs. Identify this and work to even things out.
Reevaluate from a Birdseye View. Make sure you pop your head out of the weeds and grab yourself an aerial view of your life on a regular basis so you can get a good honest look at where you’re at. Where are things going well and where do you need to revamp or recharge? If it’s not easy to get your head out of the muck to really evaluate things, than hire yourself a personal coach to help you hone in. A coach is one of the best investments you can ever make! But, if you just can’t afford it right now, at least get yourself a network of peers, friends, or family members who can help guide your way on. Multiple brains are better than one and sometimes it takes an outsider to really call us out on our sh*t.
Don’t worry about achieving perfect balance because that will never happen – life just isn’t designed that way. However, making a conscious mindful effort to regularly check-in and evaluate things will help you tremendously in the delicate act of balancing.
How do you find balance in your life? Please feel free to share and discuss in the comments below!
Are you guilty of being afraid to say "no"? Do you automatically say "yes" to requests for favors, social invitations, and obligations and then later regret doing so? Welcome to the club.
zen habits has listed out a comprehensive blog post on the art of saying no: why you are afraid of saying no, and seven possible answers to break out the N word in the most tactical manner possible.
Author Celestine Chua articulates why it is important for us to sometimes say "no" and how contrary to what you may believe in your head, declining something does not always lead to conflict or make you appear rude:
At the end of the day, it’s about how you say “no”, rather than the fact you’re saying no, that affects the outcome. After all, you have your own priorities and needs, just like everyone has his/her own needs. Saying no is about respecting and valuing your time and space. Say no is your prerogative.
My personal favorite from the seven ways to say no:
4. “Let me think about it first and I’ll get back to you.”
This is more like a “Maybe” than a straight out “No”. If you are interested but you don’t want to say ‘yes’ just yet, use this. Sometimes I’m pitched a great idea which meets my needs, but I want to hold off on committing as I want some time to think first. There are times when new considerations pop in and I want to be certain of the decision before committing myself. If the person is sincere about the request, he/she will be more than happy to wait a short while. Specify a date / time-range (say, in 1-2 weeks) where the person can expect a reply.
Saying "I’ll get back to you" has saved me on many occasions from getting sucked into an obligation I simply did not have the time or interest to do. "I’ll get back to you" gives me the space to carefully choose the answer that works best for me, and not the answer that is people-pleasing to my detriment.
Are you bad at saying "no" to others? What strategies have helped you?
A few months ago, I found myself sitting with a group of activists, all of us seeking to effect positive changes in our world. By way of introducing ourselves, we talked a about our interests and aspirations. When it came to me, I said that I love wealth. At which point, an uncomfortable silence settled over the group. The others shifted in their chairs. Wealth was not OK. I was in the wrong group.
What does "wealth" mean for you? Are you clear about your priorities, and what is important for you? Are you having to make adjustments to your spending in these times of uncertainty?
The three pillars of corporate governance are: accountability, transparency and probity or integrity. These values are considered vital for building and maintaining healthy relationships with employees, customers and stakeholders. Many times, I am sure you could point an accusing finger at organizations, institutions or corporations who are weak in any of these areas.
However, those qualities are equally of value to you as an individual. Not for the sake of appearing pious or self-righteous, but as a solid foundation in all relationships.
If you were to take money out of the wealth equation and look at your wealth in a broader way, you could see how rich you are, regardless of money in the bank, your income and how you spend it. Your human wealth is considerable, and increases with age.
Consider your wealth now in the light of:
1. What you have achieved in your life so far?
You may not have won great prizes or seen yourself in the hall of fame. But perhaps you are successfully raising a family. Just getting through the day sometimes is considerable. Which of your achievements have given you most pleasure and satisfaction?
2. What are your personal assets?
What are the qualities that make you special and unique? For example, your sense of humor, compassion, empathy, generosity, curiosity, courage.
3. Who are your people assets?
The family and friends you love, and who love you; colleagues at work who appreciate your being part of their team; your boss who values the contribution that you make; the neighbor who is there for you when you need assistance; the shop assistant who always has a kind word for you.
4. What are the talents and skills you have learned or developed so far?
Think about the basics of being able to read, write, use a computer, ride a bicycle, drive a car, cook, communicate, play sports. What about the skills you have learned in your work, or in your hobbies and leisure time interests? What unique talent do you love to use?
5. What have you gained through your life experience to date?
The sky is the limit here because all of your experiences will have given you something: a lesson to learn perhaps, new insights and awareness about yourself and your world, new understanding about your purpose in life.
6. What are your dreams and aspirations?
Knowing what you want and having the courage to go for it will draw forth from you greater strengths, qualities and more of your human wealth than had you stayed home and let your hopes fade into obscurity,
If accountability, transparency and probity or integrity are the pillars of corporate governance, the foundation is human value. Whether you are looking at an organization, or yourself as an individual, those qualities apply in building a rewarding and happy life. Corporate governance is a case of enlightened self-interest because it serves all parties.
Look at this way. Are you accountable for your wealth? Have you taken stock recently of your achievements, skills, talents, personal assets and life experiences? Are you accountable to your commitments, aspirations and dreams?
Are you transparent or clear to yourself about your priorities and values, and have you communicated them to those who are important for you?
Are you being true to yourself with integrity, at one with who you are, happy and at peace with yourself in the world? Do you truly value the special and unique human spirit that you are?
For all of your material wealth, which is considerable when seen in the light of how many of our fellow humans are living, you may miss something of the simple wealth of human community.
Money is innocent. The emotions around it are complex. How we manage ourselves is where wealth comes in, not just in financial terms, but in how we relate to our core human value. That is where we each of us count.
For a lighter look at money, Monty Python offers this view:
For more information about corporate governance read: Thin on Top: Why Corporate Governance Matters and How to Measure and Improve Board Performance by Bob Garratt.
Which of your talents do you most appreciate? How do you best nurture and enrich yourself? How does wealth feature in your life? I would love to hear from you.
Please feel free to leave a comment below, or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Re-tweet or pass to friends who may enjoy this post.
When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of coffee.
A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “yes”.
The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.
“Now,” said the professor as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things- your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions-and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.
The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else- the small stuff. “If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.
“Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Ride your bike with friends or just feel the breeze, play another 18.
There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first –the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled and said, “I’m glad you asked. The coffee just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”
"Age wrinkles the body. Quitting wrinkles the soul." – Douglas MacArthur
Yep, it’s true. I would rather have a wrinkled face than a wrinkled soul. The older I get the more I realize how quitting is not (or should not be) an option for me. HOWEVER, in pondering this thought-provoking quote I am now wondering, can putting off and pushing things to the side for a later time equate to quitting? If so then I have been a quitter in a big way.
Sure, I know that life sometimes gets in the way of the best intentions and goals. And yes, I am aware that other pressing projects sometimes take priority over "want to dos", but I am NOT willing to let myself off the hook that easily. I have things that I want to do, things that are important, things that are meant to be priorities for me. So, what the hell is truly getting in the way?
No, I’m not going to accept (as an answer) that life got in the way or that other projects forced me to squeeze out my own priorities. That is bull and I know it. The bottom line, I have been scared. Yes, you heard me right, scared. Scared that what I wish to accomplish will be rejected or never take off. Ummm, hello, Pam…if I don’t do, if I don’t try then I have rejected my own intentions and goals, then I have never allowed them to take off. Basically, I have quit.
Dear readers and friends, I assure you that I have not lost my mind. What you have just witnessed is an "aha moment" in action. Here before you, I am announcing that I am NOT going to gain another wrinkle on my soul. Nope! No way! With the New Year fast approaching along with my 42nd year on this planet, I am stating firmly and with conviction that the things I have pushed aside (i.e. a new empowerment ecourse to name but one thing on the horizon) WILL see the light of day. They will, you just wait and see!!
It is my hope that you will join me in eliminating, reducing, and avoiding any wrinkles on your soul. Together, let’s hold each other accountable in getting the things that are important to us done. Who’s with me?