Like many, I’m in the habit of using Google Calendar to schedule a lot of my comings and goings. I used to only use it for appointments. Recently, though, I’ve started jotting down reminders like going to the gym, practicing the organ, or doing grocery shopping for the week ahead. It’s especially helpful for mundane tasks that I’m tempted to avoid, like scheduling a doctor’s check-up. While most of what I do in life is not on the calendar (nor do I wish it to be), it helps keep me on track and reminds me of where I have chosen to put my focus.
Do I always stick to my decisions? If not, am I still on track? This evening’s calendar reads: “7:00 practice organ, 8:00 zumba, 9:00 blog,” yet it’s 7:00 and I’m writing my blog. So how do I know when I can, in good conscience, blow off the gym or whatever projects I have going on? How do I know when improvising my evening is practicing self-care, or even when it is more productive than what I had planned, rather than a form of laziness?
At the Coaches’ Training Institute (CTI), where I’m training to become a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, I’ve been exploring such concepts as balance and fulfillment. While most of us long for balance and fulfillment in our lives, the many options which confront us often become obstacles if we try to say yes to all of them.
When we say yes to anything in our lives, we necessarily say no to something else. One simple tool that can help clarify our choices is making a list of things in our lives to which we say yes and no. This morning, I woke up at 5:45, an hour earlier than usual. I took advantage of the time to write such a list over a cup of coffee:
Q.: By hiring an accountant, what would I be saying yes and no to?
YES: Having more time for myself and with my husband.
NO: Spending three weekends doing our taxes.
Q.: By seeing a doctor for a check-up, what would I be saying yes and no to?
NO: Deprivation, procrastination.
Becoming clear on the values attached to various options enables us to choose consciously how to move forward. Normally, I would automatically rule out hiring an accountant on grounds of expense. However, applying this tool makes it clear to me that important values are involved. The time I will spend with my husband and by myself is of much greater value than the fee charged by the accountant.
So tonight, I ‘m saying yes to reflection, writing, relaxation, watching the sunset over the park, enjoying being in our peaceful home with the cat curled up next to me. I don’t really need that zumba class (after all, I walked to and from work), but I do need to keep up the momentum with my writing. Therefore, I’m saying no to zumba and practicing the organ.
It’s a good feeling to honor what we need on a given day, even if it’s different from what’s on the calendar. Even better, when we do it in order to honor a value, we can do it free of guilt.
How do you honor your values when life gets busy? Where are you saying yes? Where are you saying no?
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