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Ordinary People Taking Action
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It’s January 6, 2020, and I have already read countless articles about the new year and new decade. They’ve covered just about every topic imaginable: from how to get fit in the new year to how to become a better leader, from how to be a better version of yourself to how to create the best resolutions. The list continues.
Let me be clear, I have zero issues with these articles. Many of them are well written, offering excellent tips. However, every year, I find myself asking the same question of myself and others – why do we wait for the new year to make these resolutions? Many will say that the beginning of the calendar year naturally invites us to stop, reflect and decide how we want to show up in the days that lie ahead. Yet come March, we all know what most of us will be thinking about – anything other than our new year, new us, resolutions.
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I have wanted to move to a new home for a very long time, and while that’s not what this story is about, the context is important. It’s important because I have spent a lot of time looking at houses, and in doing so, I have noticed something: every house has a living space in which all seating is positioned to make the television more easily viewable. My own home is not an exception. This arrangement is so common that it’s always easy to identify which houses are staged and which are currently lived in. Televisions aren’t a focal point in a staged home.
On a related note, I recently read that habits are formed because of things that we do repeatedly, and often, our environment shapes these habits. It’s no wonder people come home, fall onto the sofa and settle into an hours-long daze of television watching. After all, you have a comfortable place to sit that is positioned right in front of the television. We’ve created the perfect environment for what some might argue is a not very productive habit.
A side story, completely unrelated to this (I will tie everything together soon, I promise) is that three years ago, I mentioned to my family that I really wanted a lemon tree. They were skeptical. In the state of Washington, there isn’t continuous year-round sunlight and warm weather. How would I manage to grow lemons? I told them I was committed to the task, and so, for Mother’s Day that year, I was the proud receiver of a lemon tree.
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Don't Juggle; Make Choices.
A question coaches are asked a lot is, “How can I juggle work and life?” In my experience, when I am asked this question, my client is feeling like they are taking on too much in one area of their lives. I’d like to start by sharing some stories that I think readers may relate to, especially as the holidays approach.
John is an executive at a large company, who tells me he spends a minimum of 14 hours working, at least three hours driving, 4 hours sleeping and the rest taking care of his living needs. Part of his 14-hour workday is spent texting/emailing, starting before 5am most mornings and ending close to midnight most evenings. His phone rings constantly, often during dinner with his family. He almost always answers. His wife and family rarely see him, and even when he’s physically present, he’s frequently mentally distracted.
Jessica has created a habit where she ends her day in the office at 4:30pm so that she can be home for the kids in the evening. She and her husband tag team to get the kids to various sports and commitments in the evenings, all while juggling the dogs, dinner prep and other household/family needs. After the kids are in bed, typically between 9:30 – 10pm, Jessica will log back onto her computer and “catch up” on the work she missed by leaving the office at 4:30. She typically works until well past midnight, sometimes later. She sees her husband daily yet doesn’t feel that they have any truly meaningful interactions.
Emily is just returning to work after giving birth to her second baby boy. Her oldest is about to turn 3 years old, so she is juggling the demands of two young children at home and reentering a director-level job at a larger company. She has been late for every morning meeting this week, realizing it’s hard to get out of the house on time and still meet the needs of her kids. She uses the mother’s room every three hours while at the office and has been leaving every day at 6pm. Once home, she is too exhausted to log onto her work email, and yet her work is just getting started at home. Nights mean getting up every 4-5 hours to feed the newborn baby, leaving her sleep deprived the following day.
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"It’s been forever since I’ve seen you.” Colleen clicks send on her phone, feeling like a weight has been lifted. Finally, she’d reconnect with Kristi. It had been way too long.
Kristi picks up her phone and smiles. It’s so nice to hear from old friends. There’s just no way right now with her work schedule, though. “I know, I know,” she texts back. “We need to get together. Things have just been so busy. We will get together soon. Promise.”
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“I’ve lost sight of who I am.” It’s the only way Karen can explain what led her to schedule this coaching session. The warning signs have been piling up. She hasn’t exercised in over a year. Her doctor tells her she's neglecting her physical health. Exhaustion, weight gain, and something about her adrenal glands. Why are adrenal glands important? Her mind is too preoccupied to remember.