In the Fall of 2017, I went to social media and shared my story of falling flat on my face in a triathlon. Ok, not literally. I had what some would call a panic or anxiety attack in the water and had to get rescued out. It plain old sucked. Why? Because that doesn't happen to me. I say I am going to do it and I do it. It may not always be pretty, but it will get done. Well, this time, it did not. You can see the loooong drawn out drama of it here or keep reading for some of the after math...
I originally thought I would share my story and open myself up to my clients. Yes, we all have obstacles in life and it is OK. Through time, a roller coaster of emotions, some hiding, a lot of confusion and so much more, I realized that is not why this happened to me. It is not the you fall down you get back up again same old motivational story that I wanted it to be.
It is the stop. No stop. No really stop. NO... STOP. Take a look around at your life. How are you living? Listen to your words. Observe your actions. Do they line up with who you really are? Do they line up with your values? Do they line up with your purpose? Do they line up with you strive to be? What is your purpose?
Some will call it just a crappy race. Some will call it the universe's ways. Some will call it a coincidence that made you stop and think. Some will call it turning 40. I personally think God had his hands in forcing me to put the breaks on life for second. A loong second. In the end, it doesn't matter what you call it or why you think it happen. What matters is that you stop. You stop to listen.
The song that was playing as I walked up on shore...
Specifically, "I tried carrying the weight of the world, but I only have two hands." I remember looking up and just thinking, "Seriously!? Why!?" If I were totally honest, also insert a whole bunch of (as my kids would say), "beeeeeeeps!"
One mouth and two ears.
This is the phrase that finally made me realize what the last 5 months have been about. For the last five months, I put the breaks on a lot of things. I spent a lot of time completing opened projects. I spent a lot of time reading and listening to different books. But most of all, I spent a lot of time watching, listening, observing. Not other people. Me and how I respond to other people starting with my family then to friends then to clients then to strangers.
Am I listening?
Am I truly present?
Am I acting in a way that lines up with my morals, values and priorities?
What is truly important to me?
Am I prioritizing my "to do" list in a way that it lines up with what is truly important to me?
No, no, no and no.
How many times have you caught yourself plowing through a situation to just check it off your to do list?
How many days have you lived strictly being task oriented and robotic?
How many minutes have you spent scrolling through social media rather than speaking and being with the ones sitting right next to you?
How many minutes have you spent thinking about what you need to do in the next minute?
How many times have you left a conversation not having any clue what is going on in the other persons life you were just with?
One mouth. Two Ears.
Listening and truly listening comes from your whole being. Quiet your words. Open your ears. Quiet your body. Open your eyes.
I wonder how many other signs I missed. How many taps on the shoulder did I overlook and plow through because I wasn't listening? I was too busy with being task oriented. Checking things off the to do list.
Don't get me wrong. I still love a to do list and if you sit at my desk, you will see a Monday through Friday to do list. Things I need to do daily on each day, each week and each month. However, that list becomes easier to make and to do when you prioritize. You will also be surprised at when you stop trying to multi-task all the time, you actually get a lot more done AND you make a lot more room in your life for LIVING and all those things you wish you had time for. Your TRUE priorities become your priorities.
I am going to leave you with a little challenge list. Give it a try over the next week, month, year. (Hint... I am still a HUGE work in progress and it has been five months. But I am aware of the habits I need to change in order to put my energy, love and passion where it should be, where it needs to be and where I want it to be. Most important, I know this is a journey. My to do list will wiggle and adjust as life does, but my main life passions and loves will just continue to grow!)
1. Create complete electronic free time periods in your day.
Some ideas and recommendations include:
- not checking your email or social media until you have gotten out of bed, ate breakfast and worked out.
- from 3-4 when the kids get home from school or 6-8 when you have just got home from work.
2. Create complete electronic free zones in your environment.
- Leave the phone, I-pad, lap-top out of the bedroom.
- Leave your cell phone in the car while you work out.
- No devices on or at the dinner table (silence them so you are not tempted).
- When you are walking from point A-B, keep your head up and eyes off your screen. Stop and respond if you need to and then pick your head back up.
3. Limit your time on social media.
- Do not check social media until you have completed X, Y and Z tasks.
- Limit yourself to more than 15 minutes of time.
- If you are on for work or a specific purpose, make a rule for yourself - X amount of scrolling only after you have completed your tasks.
4. Limit your time more on social media.
- Take yourself off of groups that produce 80-100% negative feelings (keep higher your standards - 50%, 10%) or limit yourself to checking in 1-2 X per week with a time limit.
- No scrolling when in the car. Bring a book. Listen to a podcast. Talk with your child.
- No scrolling in the grocery story. Smile at the person next to you. Compliment someone. Just be.
5. One mouth. Two ears.
- Begin to listen more.
- Pay attention to how many times you cut someone off mid-sentence.
- Listen rather then waiting to provide your story, feedback, or opinion.
- Listen and then ask a question to listen some more.
- Allow silence and allow it to get uncomfortable.
Start small if you need to and gradually build. Start with one thing on the list at a time. The first month may be you just observing your habits. While you observe your own habits, go ahead and observe others and their habits. This is not a call to judgement. It is actually the opposite. It will either make you realize your own habits more or if it is someone you admire, it may encourage you to step in and adopt a new valuable habit. No judgement means not only on others, but also on yourself. This may be the hardest. But you can't grow if you are stuck in judgement. Observe. Recognize. Take another small step forward. The universe may even have more slaps in the face for us to come, but now we are preparing ourselves to listen. We can't plow through everything and do we want to?
Please, check in with us and let us know how it goes!