Last fall marked the beginning of a major transformation in my life, one that ultimately had a much larger impact than I initially anticipated. It all began because I had become SO BUSY (with a capital B!) that I could barely see straight most of the time. I was careening from work obligations, to kids activities, to personal commitments everyday with barely a breath in between, and I felt as if I was on a hamster wheel and could not get off. My days were a blur of activities and when I fell into bed, completely exhausted every night, I knew I had checked many things off of my to do list, and yet…
I had this gnawing sense that I was missing something, and if I continued down this path I would look back with regret.
At this time my two oldest kids had already left home for college and my youngest daughter was twelve years old. I was keenly aware that I had very little time left to spend with her at home, and yet I was just squeezing in moments with her in between all of the activities and commitments. Even in those moments, I did not feel completely present with her. I was distracted by my phone or the next activity that we needed to rush off to or whatever was next on my never-ending to do list.
I was physically present, but not REALLY there.
I knew something had to change, that I needed to open up some SPACE in my life and find some BALANCE, but I had so many commitments and obligations, I really wasn’t sure how I was going to do it.
I am a firm believer that if you are brave enough to ask a question and be open to receiving the answer it will come in some form or another. So I asked, “How can I find time for the things that REALLY matter to me and be more present with the people I love?”
Just a few days later, as I was searching for something completely unrelated on the internet, an ad popped up on the side of my screen for a book called “The Desire Map, A Guide to Creating Goals With Soul”, by Danielle LaPorte.
Since I have always been a goal setter and am a strong believer in the power of writing down goals, I was intrigued, so I clicked on the link….and that was the beginning of a huge change in how I live my life.
This book described the practice of goal setting in a way I had never considered. Rather than focusing on WHAT goal you want to achieve, the focus is on WHY you want to achieve the goal and how you hope to feel when you get there. So rather than start with the WHAT (i.e.: a new house, a better job, to lose weight, time with family), you start with identifying how you want to FEEL in your life (i.e.: joyful, present, connected with family, less stressed). THIS WAS A BIG LIGHTBULB MOMENT FOR ME!
I realized I had been doing it all wrong for all of these years! I had become an expert at setting goals and then navigating my way from point A to point B to achieve that goal, but I never considered if getting to point B was actually going to give me what I was REALLY looking for.
So I sat down and contemplated what truly mattered to me. I asked myself what my soul craved and the answers came flowing out. I wanted to feel deeply connected with my family and friends, I wanted to feel physically vibrant and healthy, I wanted to feel creative and fulfilled in my work, I wanted to feel less stress and more joy.
This was a very different set of goals than I had ever had before. These were not tangible “THINGS” that I could easily create a road map to achieve. I had to find a new way to get to where I REALLY wanted to go, so I started by asking myself a simple question every time I added something to my calendar or to do list…”Will this activity bring me closer to feeling the way I want to feel in my life?” Very quickly, I was able to identify the things I was spending my time on that were moving me closer to what I wanted and also the things that were not.
Now obviously there were things that were not subject to change, and there were hours of my day that were filled with required obligations, but there were also many things on my to do list that I was choosing to do, so that’s where I started.
I BEGAN SAYING “NO”…A LOT.
In my case, this meant saying no to volunteering to help with the school gala or saying no to starting yet another project on our ranch. It also meant letting go of a business that I had poured a lot of time and energy into but was ultimately not the creative outlet I had hoped for. Many of these decisions would have been hard for me in my previous state of mind, but once I had identified what I was REALLY looking for in my life, it became obvious what was working and what was not.
What ended up happening was that I suddenly had SPACE in my calendar and my to do list was getting shorter. Before long I found myself with enough space to add in the things that mattered to me. Undistracted time with my daughter…a regular yoga practice…some online photography courses…and date nights with my husband. Over several months there was an incredible shift in how my calendar looked and I noticed that there was far more that I was truly excited about each day.
In the last year, this daily practice transformed how I live and how I feel in almost every area of my life. I still take care of the “have to’s”, but that list has gotten much shorter and I don’t mind it nearly as much because now…
I make sure that there is always some space in my day for the things that I love.
Like writing, and photography…like decorating and flower arranging…like yoga and hiking…like spending time with friends or spending time reading a book…like laughing with my kids and holding hands with my husband…
I have stepped off the hamster wheel and magically time seems to have slowed down a bit.
In the last year I have had many conversations with my friends about that feeling of racing through each day and how quickly the years are passing. How they can’t believe they are another year older or that their kids are going to off to college or getting married. I have shared with a few of them the transformation I have experienced by this simple practice and the newfound joy it has brought me.
Today I wanted to share this with all of you in the hopes that if you are feeling like life is moving too fast, you might be inspired to step off that hamster wheel and slow down time just a bit. Whatever obstacles seem to be in your way, there is always a way to create some space for the things that feed your soul and bring joy to your life.