How to Stop Living for the Weekends and Create The Life You Want.
All it takes is fifteen minutes a day.
Did you know that the time it takes to charge an electric car can range from 30 minutes to more than 12 hours? The charging time depends on the size of the battery and the speed of the charging point.
Have you ever considered how long it takes to charge your internal battery?
This depends on how regularly you make an effort to keep your battery full.
The more important question becomes: What is your charging point?
Are you plugging into the activities that refuel you from the inside out or drain your battery further?
What is the first thing you do when you wake up? If you are constantly plugging into your inbox to charge yourself, your battery will remain in the red.
As a professional coach and trainer, I hear a consistent story among my clients. Their anxiety levels have gone up; their days are a never-ending to-do list, and the objective is to get through the day.
There is no sense of joy and contentment. It is one long grind with a gap on a weekend to sleep a little later and check more emails.
When I dig a little deeper, it turns out no one has made any time for their self-care, hobbies or the activities that energise them. A typical morning routine consists of coffee and logging onto emails. That’s it.
The most common excuses are ‘I am too busy, or I don’t have time’. The truth is that busy is a decision.
I have a client who will drop everything she is doing to arrange a family member’s surprise birthday tea. She will go above and beyond, including a treasure hunt activity for the kids and personalised homemade cupcakes.
If you can create space for that amount of effort, time isn’t the issue. It’s placing other people’s priorities ahead of your own. There is no sense of guilt using your precious hours on other people because it feels justified.
The guilt over investing time in yourself can be overwhelming, and this is what prevents your much-needed recovery time.
The way to charge your battery most efficiently is to introduce daily acts of kindness that enable you to charge throughout the week consistently. You cannot enter the weekend with your energy tank in reserve, hoping two days will fill your tank and sustain you until next Friday.
Here are some thoughts on how to navigate your week so you can charge your battery within thirty minutes or less:
Consistency + calendar = progress.
Schedule time in your calendar for the activities that give you an instant boost. Hobbies could include baking, scrapbooking, reading, writing, meditating, journaling, riding, painting, learning a new skill or creating.
Consistency is the bridge between feeling like you don’t have enough time and making progress on what matters most. Start by scheduling fifteen minutes a day (more is always better, but fifteen is a good start).
Consistency compounds, so fifteen minutes a day of meditation or reading will build up into a powerful habit. Even five minutes of action is better than twenty-five minutes of thinking about taking action.
If you feel like you have no idea who you are anymore or what will create this charge, ask yourself these questions:
· What are the things that naturally energise you?
· What do you like to learn about?
· What would you do for free?
· What excites you?
· If you had a free afternoon, how would you spend it?
· What things come easily to you?
· What topic could you talk about for hours?
· In a bookstore, what topics do you naturally gravitate towards?
· What kinds of articles do you find yourself drawn to?
· When was the last time you felt energised?
· Whose life are you interested in or envious of?
Now that you have an idea of what will fill your internal energy tank, ask yourself:
· How can you add more of these things into your life?
· What depletes you?
· How can you remove one of these things from your life today?
When something energises you, add more of it to your life. When something depletes you, figure out how to do less of that thing. As often as possible, follow the energy inside you. That is where passion lives.
If you still feel stuck, replace the word passion for curiosity. Follow the bread crumbs of intrigue and spend a little time exploring the topic. If it pulls you further, go down that path.
If not, see where else it takes you. The point is you need to tap back into the activities that ignite you. If you are not triggering yourself, everyone else will.
Master the habit of showing up.
When the slot for this self-care time appears in your calendar, please show up to it. Beware of giving away your time because it feels like the wrong time or you are too busy. It is never going to feel like the right time.
Have a permission mindset to focus on your activity without guilt or distraction from what you ‘should be’ doing. Expect your inner critic to try and derail you, but you need to be one step ahead.
‘Mental chatter is fake news’ — Srikumar Rao
Tell yourself — there is nowhere I need to be right now and give yourself permission to enjoy it and be fully present.
Carving out pockets of time each day for your inspired outlet is more than pursuing a hobby or scratching a creative itch; it is about creating time in your day that you can make space for yourself away from work. Let your mind wander and put your focus on a non-work-related task.
Ironically, this is where you do your best thinking about work and you will find that the creative ideas and solutions flow.
Work + meaning = fulfilment.
Having a fully charged battery means that the work you do in between your creative outlet has to be rewarding too. You cannot expect to thrive if you are living for the moments in between your working hours.
Perhaps you have realised the work you are doing now isn’t giving you the fulfilment you are after.
Beth Kempton, the author of Wabi-Sabi, suggests you pose these questions to invite a different kind of career journey:
· What needs to be different by this time next year for me to thrive in my work?
· How would I like to describe myself a year from now?
· How would I like to describe my home a year from now?
· How would I like to describe my work-life a year from now?
· How would I like to describe my finances a year from now?
· What would I like to have created a year from now?
· How would I like to describe my headspace a year from now?
The next step in your planning is to decide on a tiny change you can make today to start shifting from where you are to where you want to be in a year from now.
The reward is in anticipation.
Once you have decided on your activity, schedule it into your calendar as a recurring weekly event. Maybe you need to make the subject line ‘Strategy session or meeting with EXCO’ so it doesn’t get booked up by anyone who has access to your online calendar.
Daily would be ideal but if this feels overwhelming, let’s start with weekly. Once you get over the guilt and anxiety of not working for that time, you will begin to enjoy it.
Even better, you will begin to look forward to it. Just knowing you get to spend time on something you love during your workweek will energise you.
Remember when you had your last leave time booked. It was as if nothing could get you down because you knew the recovery was on the way. It’s the same with having your refuel time. It is a dose of added resilience to get through anything life presents to you.
The only person who stands between you and making progress on what matters is yourself.
Don’t let guilt override your recovery time. Reframe this time as critical to your success. If you neglect this time for yourself, think how different your life will be once you permit yourself to have this regular recharge.
Think about what you could achieve when your energy is optimal.
It’s so possible, and it begins with fifteen minutes a day.
Here’s to recharging your battery,
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Lori Milner is an engaging coach, author, TEDx speaker and trainer. Lori is passionate about empowering women and equipping diverse teams with skills to fulfil their potential in their careers and personal lives. Beyond the Dress has worked with South Africa’s leading corporates and empowered hundreds of employees with valuable insight on bridging the gap between work and personal life.