Can you believe it’s already February?! Where did January go? Poof!
Life here is FULL. How about you? Personally, I’m in the middle of a website redesign, dusting off and fine-tuning my business focus, and we just spent 10 days in North Carolina with family. You’d think I’d be rejuvenated after “time away,” but let’s just say vacationing with 18 month old twins is different than previous travels. It was a delight to focus 100% on family and frolic in the snow, but it took me all last week to re-orient myself and play “catch up” after being gone. The good news, it became the inspiration for this week’s article.
It happens to all of us, right? We set goals for the New Year, commit to a new set of daily habits (exercise, nutrition, meditation, writing weekly articles for business, etc.) or make a decision to be kinder toward our loved ones and then life happens. We get distracted. We get overwhelmed. We react. We get out of rhythm. Other things consume our attention.
Sometimes it’s a beautiful distraction like the birth of a child or grandchild, a vacation or visit from family, a fun holiday or attending an inspiring training or conference.
Sometimes it’s an unpleasant distraction like a nasty cold, argument with a spouse, water leak, losing a client, or something quite serious like illness, divorce, death of a loved one or pet or a layoff :(.
Whether the distraction is big or little, positive or draining, it can throw us off balance. So, what can you do to get back into our optimal flow? How can you find balance again?
In a way, it’s simple.
You begin again.
Those two little words bring us to a fresh starting point. Fresh inspiration. Fresh direction. New eyes. And you “begin again.”
Years ago, I participated in a yearlong Leadership course through The Coaches Training Institute. One of the group challenges was getting everyone through a “wall” made of rope knotted into different sized shapes. We couldn’t touch the rope at all, use the same opening more than twice or talk. Easier said than done. When someone touched the rope in some way, we’d simply hear, “Begin again.” Needless to say, we heard “begin again” over and over and over again. Ultimately, the entire group fell into sync with one another, and we seamlessly completed the task. Whoooo hooooo!
The same “begin again” instructions were used in countless other group challenges, etching these two simple words in my mind for those times when I’m out of sync with life.
Sometimes “beginning again” is all that’s needed. Maybe you’ve gotten out of your routine of working out. You notice it has been a week or two or three, and you just “begin again” by recommitting, putting those workouts in your schedule and getting started.
Last week wasn’t one of those weeks for me. But, let me share with you the 7 keys I used to “begin again” after being gone for 10 days. Use this protocol if you’re feeling out of balance and want to refind your flow.
7 Keys for Beginning Again
1. Handle the urgent to-do’s. If you’ve really unplugged for a week or more, you likely have a few pressing items to address. Jump on these first.
2. Clear the deck (or desk!) In a perfect world, our desks are always tidy, with a place for everything and everything in its place. Unfortunately, most of us get visited by “homemade tornados” periodically. If you’re like me, organizing your work space is a must for maximizing productivity and creativity. Sort mail, paperwork and piles. Throw out what is now irrelevant. Find a place for everything and put everything in its place. (NOTE: At least once a year I like to really purge and organize my office so “clearing the deck” can be done in 1-2 hours max, not 1-2 days or weeks). Remember our outer world reflects our inner world. Order makes a difference. Do you need to “clear your deck?”
3. Reprioritize. What are the top 5-7 things you want to focus on next? For each of my top key areas of focus, I also like to bullet out the top action items for each priority. A simple way to do this is dividing a sheet of paper into 8-10 segments using a pen. When I’ve got a lot going on, visually seeing all the tasks organized by project helps me prioritize. Getting tasks out of my head, and on paper allows new creativity and inspiration to flow. I also like to review my top goals and vision to be sure I’m remembering to include them in my focus.
4. Create a new Tolerations list. If you’re one of my clients, participated in my Success and Inner Peace Bootcamp or own the “Secrets to Profound Peace and Soaring Success” audio program, you know what tolerations are. If you’re new to this concept, a “toleration” is something you’ve been putting up with, putting off or not dealing with — that drains your energy. It could be as simple as a button missing off your favorite shirt, a cluttered desk, or thank you cards you’ve been meaning to send. When that “something” isn’t handled, just thinking about it zaps your already depleted energy. Read more about “tolerations” here.
I like to keep a running list of “tolerations,” update it periodically and review the master list weekly. Many “tolerations” aren’t urgent, but writing them down frees mind and energy until it can be addressed. It’s one of my key “beginning again” rituals.
5. Boost your self-care. Now that we’ve organized your outer world, let’s address your inner world. That begins with your physical body. Get your blood flowing. Exercise. Stretch. Take a bubble bath. Get a massage. Nurture the miraculous vessel called your body.
I get how challenging it is to take 1-2 hours out of your busy day to take care of you. It can feel selfish, and unproductive. As a mother of twins, I know how much I can accomplish in blocks of uninterrupted time and I’ve certainly sacrificed self-care time for other priorities. But, I hate the feeling of being off balance after a short while… and when I surrender to what my body needs, I’m rewarded with blissful energy, productivity and flow. Self-care is worth the investment.
Truth be told, last week it took one walk, a ride on the exercise bike, one walk, a jacuzzi and 2 yoga sessions for me to physically feel back in full alignment with my body. Of course, I had to space these activities around coaching clients, business commitments, toddlers and my husband’s travels. Sometimes, just one visit to the yoga studio does the trick, and sometimes you need to go “until.”
How will you commit to boosting your self care this week?
6. Express yourself. You know I’m a big advocate of “feeling your feelings” as a path back to inner peace. Sharing openly with a loved one, friend or coach about what’s going on in your inner world is cathartic because when we speak our truth, we feel into it and can gain new perspectives. My husband had to travel for business a couple days after we were back, and it wasn’t until last night when we could “talk.” If you don’t have a partner or friend to support you in this way, consider hiring a personal coach. Who do you turn to when you need to clear your inner world?
7. Reconnect with your Inner Self. The key to living a life in flow is being connected with your inner self. When you’re out of sync, access to your inner guidance and intuition is stifled and it’s more difficult to hear and respond to. What allows you to reconnect with your Inner Self? Meditation. Yoga. A quiet walk. Time in nature. Journaling. Or just relaxing into stillness?
You’ll know you’re connected with your Inner Self when inner peace is high, the urgency of life is calmed, your present to your inner guidance and it feels natural to simply respond to it.
If you’re just a little out of balance, a simple “begin again” may be all you need. Maybe it’ll take several hours, days or weeks to find your flow using one or more of the keys above.
Regardless, use that “out of balance” feeling as a trigger to reset… and “begin again” as many times as needed throughout the year.