Spring is nearly upon us. It's time to get started on some spring cleaning. No need to rush to the laundry room for the bucket and mop! This spring cleaning, while it may get a little messy, has nothing to do with wiping down baseboards or dusting cobwebs. This spring cleaning will focus on a much more important area - your life!
Whenever an individual begins working with a personal coach, he or she usually has some specific purpose in mind - something they wish to achieve or obtain. Usually though, a personal coach will ask the individual to do some groundwork first. Otherwise, it would be like putting the star at the top of the Christmas tree before it's firmly secured in its stand.
One of my favorite exercises for a new client is to begin a list of "tolerations." Toleration, much like it sounds, is something you are putting up with. It may be a little thing, like that loose drawer pull in the kitchen. Or it may be a big thing, like the fact that you can't stand working night shift any more. Although the importance of both those items is very different, they are similar in that they both drain you of energy. They are energy vampires! While the loose drawer pull may seem like a small thing, every time you open that drawer, it drains a little energy from you. You may be thinking, "I really should have taken care of that already." Or, "I can't believe that handle fell off again today, just when I'm running behind!" Either way, you just lost energy that could have been used for something far more fun or important than that drawer.
So, my first challenge to you is, start putting your tolerations down on paper. This is not something to keep in your head. That would definitely be an energy drain. Write it down. Keep it with you so you can add to it throughout the day. You may find things in your car or at your jobsite that you might not remember while at home. Just write it down. You may not see any way that the situation could change, but write it down. It may be something so small you know you could easily handle it quickly (but you just haven't). Write it down! You can keep this with you as an ongoing project.
Next, pick 10 tolerations to handle this week. They don't have to be big ones. You may just have to sew the button back on those pants or get a screwdriver out to tighten that drawer pull. Notice how good it feels to get that done. Notice how you get a little bit of energy back with each item you can cross off that list. Enjoy it! If you're having difficulty motivating yourself to get started, find a friend who will also do this. You can check in on each other to see how things are going. You can share the challenges as well as your successes. Next week, pick another 10 items to handle. And just keep doing that until you get to the things that you don't know how to handle. Then just leave them on the list.
Perhaps, by writing them on your list, your subconscious mind starts working out the solution. Or maybe writing them on your list is a form of prayer. What I do know is, many times, once an individual writes down a big toleration for which they have no solution, something changes. That really annoying neighbor gets a new job in another town. Or that dayshift position opens up (when your neighbor's wife moves with him). Or, perhaps, you find out your employer will now be offering tuition reimbursement so you can finally finish your Bachelor's degree. Whatever it is, the solution may not be immediate, but just the act of recognizing the situation and acknowledging that it is an energy drain for you will decrease some of its power in your life.
And, yes, you will continue to add to the list as time goes on. But, as we continue to work together toward a more intentional life, you will find that the number of items on your list diminishes significantly. And that takes us to the next step in our spring cleaning . . .
Just Say "No"
Although we love to use the phrase, we just can't really "make time." We have to decide how we are going to use the time we are allotted. So, while we are on this spring cleaning adventure, I would like to challenge you to just say "no" whenever you are asked to do anything. This doesn't mean you have to be rude or short with someone when they are asking for your help. It also doesn't mean that you won't help them. What it does mean is that you don't have to say "Yes" to everything anyone asks you to do right when they ask. It gives you permission to stop and think about it before making that commitment. A great way to do this is to say, "That sounds very interesting. I'll need to go home and look at my calendar to be sure I could give it the attention it deserves." You are acknowledging that what the individual asked of you is important, but you are also letting them know you have other commitments as well. A good rule of thumb is to take 24 hours before making any decision of this kind.
To summarize, this spring, despite losing an hour to daylight savings time, we are going to find some extra time and energy by taking on only projects that are truly important to us and by getting rid of a bunch of those things in our lives that are stealing our power. Once you get rid of some of this stuff that you don't need, be on the lookout for some new and exciting opportunities. Just remember to check your calendar first!
Karen Laing is a nurse, health educator and personal coach. She enjoys sharing her passion for working toward optimal health whenever given the opportunity. Contact her at Karen_Laing@bshsi.org.