There are any number of things that can capture (and divert) our attention any given day. Having a mechanism in place to help us consciously choose what gets our attention makes a huge impact to how we spend our time. Rather than saying "yes" to projects, tasks, distractions, or requests by default, we can determine if the request aligns to our priorities, goals, intentions, and values. When we aren't clear on our values and priorities, we can work with a coach to find clarity. Our coach can also help us set intentions and meaningful learning goals for our life.
When these foundation pieces are clear, it becomes easier to say "no" when we need to say "no." Saying "no" to what's not aligned leaves us space so we canchoose to say "yes!" to what is aligned.
Because I've been cultivating more presence and awareness (mindfulness) in my life, I was able to also look at this situation from a more macro level to see a pattern that had been emerging. I was aware that I had been in this place before, and what contributed to me getting into these types of situations, and then what made it difficult to get out of them.
The "achiever" in me has a strong desire to show my value by getting involved and delivering results. Then, "responsibility" (for those of you familiar with StrengthsFinder) makes it really difficult for me to step away from the commitments I've made. There's an underlying fear that exists of disappointing people if I don't follow through on a commitment.
Aware of the pattern, I was able to make a more informed decision. I talked to my coach, who helped me evaluate each situation and then I carefully thought through which role, if any, I wanted to play in each project/committee. Once I made those decisions, I immediately started taking action to remedy the situation.
For some, these decisions can be difficult. Whether its volunteer work or projects at work, it is up to us to know when we have too much on our plate and then make the decision to do something about it. We may not be able to step away from all of our commitments (as was the case for me). But we can sure evaluate them to determine where we are spending too much time and how we can remedy that. Perhaps there are pieces we can delegate. Maybe we can shift what our involvement looks like. Perhaps we can share the work with others. We need to know what we have control to change and what we don't. When we are able to, we can decide to step away all together if the time is right.
I enjoy having a variety of experiences to strengthen my skills, push my comfort zone, and help me learn more about myself. But now, at this point in my journey, I'm also a fan of leaving some white space in my calendar so I can just "be" for awhile too. We all need time to reflect and time to turn to our inner guidance so we can hear the next step in our journey.
So my opportunity, once I create some space in my calendar, is to refocus on the work projects that weren't getting done, but also to leave some space for the sacred time that is so critical to me. I'll need to protect some time to just "be." One thing I've learned about myself is that when I don't allow enough time to think, reflect, meditate, journal, and just be still in silence, that is when I feel the most harried and disconnected, no matter how much or little is on my plate.
How full is your plate? Are you leaving space for your sacred time?