This is not another post about time management.
This is a post about actually making space in your life for all the versions or dimensions of you that truly fulfill you.
What do I mean? Well here’s the thing. Many of us have different aspects of our lives that make us who we are. No one thing defines us. Often people will ask, “So what do you do for a living?” And we’ll respond with our day job like, “Oh! I’m a scientist.” or “I work for a large firm.” or “I work for a local non-profit.” Automatically our society has assumed that our job or career is a label that sums up our being. I’m reminded of the scene in Eat, Pray, Love where friends are gathered together for dinner and they ask each other to say one word that is theirs that embodies them. Personally, I don’t know if I could pick just one word.
Yes, of course, being a scientist (as my profession), is a huge part of who I am, and I love that about myself. But it’s not the only part of me.
I am also a graduate student, a painter, a drawer, a volunteer, a wife, a dog mom, a homeowner, a singer, a dancer, old time music/movie buff, a yogi, a novice indoor plant gardener, (in no specific order)… the list goes on.
So how do we make space in our lives for being a complete person, doing everything that fulfills us, while not letting just one dimension of our lives define us and pull us away from the rest of it?
Personally, this is really hard or me. I have a lot of interests, and sometimes one of them takes more or most of my time than the other ones. This is where we have to acknowledge the thing or things that we are committed most to and always remember to come back to the others when we can, even if it’s for a short amount of time. This is so important to keeping ourselves refreshed and our spirits up.
Here are some things I have learned over the course of the last few years to help me be my true self and acknowledge every dimension of me that yearns to shine.
1. Plan my day to include time for some of my dimensions
- I keep a Happy Planner® (a mini one!) and I plan out my day be each hour. I schedule in time for walks with my hubby and dogs. Or I pencil in a class I’m interested in attending. It helps force me to take a break from working even when I come home for the day. I can see how much I’ve accomplished and that I really do have time for other pieces of me.
2. Eat the frog
- Do the thing you have to or should do first! That huge task that you’ve been putting off…I know–it’s not always fun, but the work’s gotta get done. So just eat that frog so you can stop wasting time thinking about it and cross it off your to-do list! This will make time for you to spend on other aspects of you.
3. Surround yourself with supportive people
- This is one of the most important items on my list! Tell others your plans or goals, and ask them to encourage you or remind you. For example, I told my husband I wished I painted more. So he encouraged me to take time to paint a little when I came home from work over the summer.
- When people in your life can be your cheerleaders, you’re more likely to follow through or even have company on your journey to work through the hard times and celebrate your wins!
4. Celebrate the “small” and the “hard” stuff
- If your goal was to incorporate a yoga class once a week, and you made it to the first class, celebrate! lf you started reading for pleasure again, celebrate! You get the picture.
- Whether it’s sharing a selfie on social media, writing yourself a note in your journal or planner, texting a friend, getting that peppermint white mocha, celebrating small steps or even things that were hard to pick up again, celebrating boosts the likelihood you’ll do them again, and you can be proud of that!
5. Acknowledge and start over
- Have you had that moment when you realized all you’ve been doing is work, work, work!? For a while it may feel exciting if you’re accomplishing something big, but after awhile, I find it leaves me drained. For me it can feel like I keep giving and giving, but I’m not really getting anything back to fill up my spirit. When this happens, acknowledge it out loud or in writing, and set your intentions to start over and try again.
- It’s never to late to start over! Haven’t been dancing in a year, who cares?! Get to that class anyway–no one’s stopping you but you! Feeling like you started something for you, but then forgot about that project? Pick it up again!
6. Integrate dimensions of you into your work
- Ever felt like you compartmentalize yourself so that who you are at work is very different from who you are outside of work? Yes, we all have to be professional in the workplace, but why do we have to be a different us than we are in a space where we are maybe more creative or lighthearted or relaxed?
- I’ve found that when I pair my creative mind to problem solving at work, I think up some of my best ideas. If one dimension of you can help you succeed at work, by all means, use that to your benefit!
My last piece of advice is this (some of you have heard me say this before)–
I recently heard Patrick Herson, the President of Fairview Medical Group, tell a story to show how important it is for us to take care of ourselves—our mental and physical health.
He talked about the idea of “putting your own O2 mask on before helping others.”
If you’re on a plane and the cabin loses pressure, your O2 mask should come out of the ceiling. We’re told to put on our mask before helping others. If you pass out, you cannot help your child or loved one or anyone else. If you get your mask on first, you then have minutes to help others even if they pass out. Enjoy this awesome video showing the science behind it.
The same idea applies for us at work. We work so hard to help each other and for our patients or clients or customers, etc. Sometimes we do double shifts and sometimes we stay late. Sometimes we work 7+ plus days in a row. We are amazing humans.
I encourage you to do as Patrick Herson does and “find your sanctuary” often or “put on your O2 mask” often. Your sanctuary is your safe place where you take time for you.
Some of my sanctuaries are my morning coffee at 5am when no one else is awake in my house, my daily walks with my dogs, and my time spent painting on the weekends. My husband and I have made a pact to take one vacation a year (even if it’s just to Duluth!).
Even when you’re tired or the day was long and you don’t feel like going to your sanctuary, just do it! You’ll feel a lot better than if you skip it.
If any of you lovelies have other ideas or thoughts, please comment or email me! 🙂