As a coach, I try not to give advice, but spend most of my client sessions asking questions and reflecting back what my clients say. The end goal is that my clients are finding their own solutions and taking action based on their choice(s), not my advice. Yes, I sometimes teach my clients various things, but what they do with that learning is completely up to them.
I have mostly been taking the same approach with my blog posts as well--writing about a coach-like topic and then leaving you, the reader, with lots of questions to think about.
Are those posts and questions valuable?
I hope so.
This week, instead of just philosophising and asking questions, I am going to actually give you something concrete to do.
Last week, I talked about how I used to wear my exhaustion like it was a badge of honor and that I didn’t feel good about myself unless I was busy and always doing, achieving, or succeeding. I encouraged you to think about your own exhaustion and if you were also wearing it like a badge of honor. I left you with these questions:
- Are you always exhausted?
- If so, for whom and for what purpose?
- If you didn’t work so hard, would you/could you feel enough just as you are?
- Can you “matter” on a smaller scale without being so exhausted?
- Can you do important and life-changing work without being so tired all the time?
Today, I am going to give you my unsolicited advice on what to do if you are exhausted. Even if you aren’t exhausted, this is still good advice (not that I am biased or anything.)
Okay, I know that I just gave you more questions to think about, but they are really the same questions asked in a different way. Please take some time to think about them. Sometimes the easiest way to find an answer is to sit with the problem for awhile (instead of plowing ahead or trying to avoid it.)
Make a list of all the things in your life that matter to you. If the list is really long, try to condense it around certain themes. I recently did this with a client and we had a list containing things like: Connecting with Others, Personal Health and Exercise, Creativity, Rest and Relaxation, and Keeping House.
Once you have your list of priorities, rank them from first to last. Leave out the “shoulds” and the guilt. It’s okay to put your own needs before your partner’s or your children’s. It’s okay if work isn’t your first priority. (One thing about work, though. Some people work because it brings them a sense of purpose, some work for financial security, and most work because of a combination. Think about why you work each day before you rank it, or separate it into two priorities.)
I try not to “should” people, but rest or sleep SHOULD be one of your priorities and it SHOULD be near the top.
3) ASSESS YOUR ALIGNMENT
Take a look at last week’s calendar, or if you don’t keep a detailed calendar, create a list of some of major things you did. How did you spend your time?
Now, look at your list of priorities. How do your priorities match up with how you spent your time?
If exercise is a top priority, but you didn’t exercise at all last week, I would say you are pretty out of alignment. If your priority is to stay connected with the people you care about, but you didn’t see them, email them, or call them, then I would say you are out of alignment.
See where I am going with this?
4) START SAYING YES TO YOURSELF, BY SAYING NO TO OTHERS
Take a look at next week’s calendar. Is it already full? Is what you have planned in alignment with your priorities? If not, start thinking about what you can exchange for your priorities.
Yes, this will be hard. Yes, you might have to disappoint some people. Yes, you might have to say no to someone. Yes, you might have to cancel a meeting. Yes, you might have to finally say to your boss, “I am sorry, but I can’t keep working 12 hour days. Can we work together to find a solution?”
If you have nothing planned yet, you have a great opportunity to make your priorities a real priority. Put them in your calendar and make it sacred time. Don’t let anything interfere (unless it’s a true, and I mean real emergency).
If you need help saying no, I wrote about that awhile back. You can read that one here.
5) KEEP IT UP
This isn’t just a one day thing, or a one week thing. This is a life-long thing. If we are constantly living out of alignment of our priorities, we are going to end up feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and unfulfilled. Don’t let that happen. You only have one life to live (at least that’s what I believe). Why not make the most if it?