This photo is of six of our seven grandchildren on a first ever family ski trip over the holiday break. Each one took to the snow as a grand adventure! They appreciated the beauty of the mountains, they loved the challenge of learning a new sport, they had fun watching their parents wipe out and enjoyed seeing their grandparents expressions of pure joy as we watched them together.
Life is short. Focus on what matters. Let go of what doesn’t.
This Christmas our family decided not to give presents but instead to share an experience that would be fun for all of us. My most precious commodities are moments such as these. I wanted our grandchildren to feel that as well. That matters to me. They are the reflection of what matters to me in my life:
- My purpose
- My time
- My health
- My outlook, and
- My relationships.
For today’s blog post I’m reflecting on those six days in the mountains as a key part of how I lead my life.
My purpose is my why. It drives my actions. It fuels my passion. It encompasses my work, my relationships, and my approach to living. It means living my life in an intentional way. It gives my life sharper focus. It keeps me going when life gets tough. It gives my life extra meaning and richness.
Taking a trip to Colorado this Christmas was an easy choice, because it fit squarely within my purpose. It supported my values of family and togetherness. It helped me reconnect with my loved ones. It helped me reconnect with my values of adventure, challenge, learning, and beauty.
If you’ve lost our way and are struggling with your why, ask yourself the following questions:
- Where am I trying to get to?
- What lights me up and gets me excited?
- What’s my reason for getting up in the morning?
- What do I want more of in my life?
- What do I want less of in my life?
The answers to these questions can be revealing. They can lead us back to the core of what really matters most to us.
Taking Back My Time
A study by Brendan Buchard found that the most successful, productive, high-performing people out there prioritize their own well-being above pretty much everything else in their lives. So why do some of us run around, constantly stressed, complaining we “don’t have time”?
We all have responsibilities and obligations. We all have the same number of hours in every day. But many of us make poor time choices on a daily basis. Instead of feeling in control of our calendars, we rush from one commitment to another, never really feeling like we’re truly present for any of them. We squeeze too much into our days, but we have less and less time to do the things we really want to do.
In economics, they call it “opportunity cost”: we need to recognize that each time we say yes to one thing, we are saying no to something else. Later in life we realize, we can’t get time back. Time is a finite resource; once spent, it’s gone. But we can be selective and intentional with the time we do have.
We can take control by saying yes to fewer things and creating more “white space” on our calendar. Contrary to popular belief, this “free time” isn’t wasted! The answers to our most burning life questions often come during this free time or in meditation, when our minds aren’t crowded with anything else.
Of course, reclaiming your time isn’t always simple. Many of my clients are working demanding jobs, running businesses, bringing up a family, caring for aging parents, looking after a loved one who has health challenges and more.
Finding time for ourselves in these scenarios can seem impossible. When we do find the time, we might feel guilty using it for self-care. We might be too worn out to do anything regenerative with our free time and get sucked into watching TV.
Bottom line though: it’s not about how much you pack into your days. It’s about the quality of your days, and whether or not you can smile at the end of them.
As I’ve aged, I’ve become more and more grateful for my physical health. Healthy habits have become more of a priority, even a source of joy for me! My early morning lap swimming is a source of energy, positivity and clarity for my day. With the support of my community of swimmers and the physical challenge of hard exercise, I do it because it matters and is a priority done with intention and joy.
We often neglect our health when we see exercise and eating well as less of a joy, more of a duty. To properly prioritize your health, I recommend thinking long-term. How do you want to feel about your physical body in 10 years? In 20? I’m so grateful that in my 70s, I was able to take a trip like this to Colorado and enjoy it when many of my peers can’t. I believe this is partly because I’ve prioritized my health over the years. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. We can be kinder on ourselves. Walking or biking to work, swimming, yoga or playing with grandchildren all “counts.” Don’t get stuck in a rut! All these activities can be mixed up based on your mood and interests. Bottom line though: our bodies are made to move, not sit hunched over laptops or in front of TVs all day. If you’re pain-free today, be grateful for that. Celebrate with some intentional movement. Embrace the abilities you have right now.
In keeping any New Year’s resolutions related to your physical health, I encourage you to start with a spirit of gratitude, respect, love and intention. The joy will come as you celebrate where you are and what you can do right now.
A Positive Outlook
When I was twenty-one years old, a lifetime before I began work as a life coach in DC, I moved to a city in South America with my brand new husband. It was an exciting adventure, but the first few months were spent in a hotel – a lonely and isolating experience. Surprisingly, I seemed unable to make friends. Although I told each new person I met that I was happy, it took a powerful question from a new acquaintance to make me open up. The woman who would later become one of my closest friends asked me: “If you could change anything right now, what would it be?” I realized then and there that the only thing I really wanted to change was my own bad mood! (Read the full story – & see some of our wedding photos! – in my previous blog post here.)
Staying positive isn’t about faking happiness or having a “Pollyanna” attitude. Some people equate optimism and positivity with ignorance, but did you know that positive people actually live longer? I now believe optimism is a form of courage. Read my previous post Rose-Colored Glasses? to learn my top 5 ways to cultivate positivity in your life.
Our current obsession with being busy leads many of us to feel we don’t have enough time for the people we love. Loved ones will no doubt be high on your list.
At the end of our lives, how we related to our friends, family, and loved ones is probably going to be pretty high on our lists of things we are grateful for – or our list of regrets. We need to make the time to foster these relationships, and to communicate with these people clearly and intentionally.
That’s why a technique called ‘mindful listening’ is the ultimate remedy. It encourages us to take a step back from our preconceived notions and focus fully on what the person is saying without judging them. Read my previous blog post, Revolutionize Your Conversations With Mindful Listening to learn how.
“Being listened to is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.” ― David Augsburger
A few years back, I ran a well-received challenge around listening, The DC Life Coach’s Holiday Challenge: 7 Ways to Listen where I asked readers to ask themselves: what are you thankful for – and what are you really craving more of?
Time with your children or grandchildren? Time in nature? Time to yourself, to just unplug and relax?
I believe that when we dig deeper, what we’re all craving is connection – to nature, to those we love, even to ourselves. This is rooted in living in the present moment, and practicing gratitude. We can then mindfully create the world we want to live in, one full of this type of connection.
Need an ally in this work? Living an authentic life means being clear on who we are: our values, intentions, objectives and commitments. It’s having the courage to be imperfect. Learning to be more authentic can lead to increased happiness and feelings of self-worth, but it can be difficult if you go it alone. I help my life coaching clients get clear on how they want to show up in life, and keep them accountable so they can execute on creating the life they’ve always wanted. If you’d like to work on living a more authentic life, I am accepting a short list of new clients now. We’ll chart the processes you need to tune into that still, small voice of your values and intuition, and approach authenticity with intention. Let’s explore how you can have what you want and live with more ease, freedom, joy and meaningful connection to those around you.
Contact me for a complimentary, no-obligations life coaching consultation. Or use the Appointment Scheduler and pick a time that works for you. I coach 90% of my clients over the phone, and my DC-based Life Coaching clients have the option of meeting with me in person. I look forward to hearing from you.