October was my month of rest. November was a complete catch up-where everything landed that I did not do in October. December was exams, Christmas and family. It was my hope that in January, I would have some intentional time to sit with my passion planner, journal and carefully create and organize my goals for 2016. The first month of the year was a blur of snow days and school trips and suddenly I looked up and it was February.
Last week was my first week to be with myself and get my mind wrapped around reality. The first step in creating a life of rest is taking stock of what is already in our lives.
Right now I have 28 sticky notes with various commitments that I know about today. For the record, this SHOCKED me. I thought I had only committed to about 3 things this year. I have said no so many times, I thought I had plenty of freedom to say yes. Because my life is connected to my husband and my kids are still very much reliant on me-their commitments directly impact or even become my commitments. So, things are happening exponentially. By the time everybody gets home this afternoon, I will probably have four more sticky notes up there.
Some of those commitments are scheduled-like a training that I will be attending. Those dates are on my calendar, but this commitment also included buying plane tickets, reserving a hotel and registering for the conference. There will also need to be time in that week for packing and many details that need to be worked out with my family in advance. So that one commitment has a lot of little things in it even though the training itself will only be for those three days.
Some of these commitments are ongoing-like grocery shopping. One of my jobs is keeping our kitchen full of everything we eat on a regular basis. We all eat the same things for breakfast, lunch and snacks. And I try to have a few prepared things we can eat for dinner when we are home.
5 of my guiding principles when it comes to commitments:
- This week IS next week: If I am too busy/too tired/too surprised by the unexpected this week to commit to this thing, I will be too busy/too tired/too surprised by the unexpected next week. Most of us live in a fantasy that next week will be different. As in, “I will be perfectly organized next week, no one will be sick next week, I will finally be finished with this project…so sure! I can do that next week.” The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Unless we are being intentional about making space for our next commitment, next week will be end up feeling exactly like this one.
- How do I want to be when I do this thing? My goal in being well-rested is to bring my whole self wherever I am. This means being thoughtful in preparation, being present with who I am with or in what I am learning. It means not being late or anxious because I am stuck in traffic. I don’t want to feel angry, resentful, or guilty because I have overcommitted myself.
- Just because I want to, doesn’t mean I can: In the past, I pretended that I had time and space for anything that was important to me. I thought with enough determination and grit, I could get it done. The problem is many things are very important to me and just because they are important doesn’t me I am capable of doing them. I am delighted to enter this year being intentional about these commitments instead of adding more.
- Owning my choices: The idea of capturing my commitments is empowering because I am connecting my reality to my ideals and taking responsibility for what I have and what I will commit to as opposed to feeling victimized by the next request or opportunity. It is also a HUGE reality check. This is my life, it’s time to own it, and accept it.
- A 50% Margin: In reviewing the past five years of our lives, my husband and I finally surrendered to the reality that we have a very high level of unknowns in our life. Every single month of the past five years had an unexpected expense of $500-$2,000. We kept thinking next month would be different….for five years. The same is true of our time. Every week MANY THINGS comes up that we could not have anticipated, planned or prepared for. Now, we anticipate the unknown. We know at least 50% of our time is committed to that which we do not know. It is like a time and energy fund that is just waiting for us to spend it. While it will always be annoying when our dog throws up just as we are walking out the door, it is not the thing that tips me over into crazy town. When the coat is left at school, when the computer is not working, when that text breaks someone’s heart, when someone has a fever, when the engine light comes on…It’s all our life, not an interruption to our life.
Get out your sticky note and in your bold writing put ONE commitment on each sticky note and find a place you can stick them so that you get a compete picture of what and where you have committed to at this time in your life.
Depending on your current circumstances, you can get a snap shot of your commitments for this week, this month or this year.
What are your guiding principles?
How did you decide you were going to commit to what you have already committed to?
What commitments are you ready to let go of?
What can you un-commit to today?
What things do you want to finish out this cycle, but not re-commit to next month/year?
Which of your commitments brings you the most energy, excitement, growth and contribution?
Which of your commitments drain you?
Which of your commitments is a challenging part of a bigger commitment?
Where can you create margin in your schedule?
Which of your commitments would you like to be more committed to?