Let’s face it. We are leading some pretty busy lives. Have you ever just stopped and looked around to see what everyone else is doing? We live in a fast-paced society and we’ve become masters of multi-tasking. I was at a stoplight when I noticed that to my left was a drive-through line eight cars deep, to my right, a line through Starbucks that literally wrapped around the building and began to resemble a spiral. In the car next to me was a woman who was eating her breakfast, talking on her phone and then driving all at the same time!
I coach entrepreneurs and professional businesswomen and I’ve seen the emergence of a pattern: So many of us fall into the category of master-multi-task-managers. This can be beneficial if you are meeting deadlines and producing successful results. But the ugly truth is that in the long run, you will only accomplish a portion of what you are capable of if you maintain the fast-paced, chaotic, go-till-you-can’t-go-anymore pace. That’s right. The more you are doing, the busier you get, the less you will meet your potential.
Read that again! The more you are doing, the busier you get, the less likely you will meet your potential. Why? Because there is a secret ingredient to success that is quite often overlooked, cast aside, deemed unimportant, or goes completely unnoticed. I’m going to share it with you in just a moment, but I want to give you some perspective first.
Every entrepreneurial spirit has an intense need to grow and learn. I committed to a year-long coaching and mentorship program in 2013 that added even more to plate than was already there. I just returned from Phoenix after one of our four annual conferences. After meeting and networking with all kinds of amazing entrepreneurs, I noticed something very profound. I asked everyone I spoke with, to tell me how many hours they worked on their businesses. I didn’t ask them what they were doing, Instead, I wanted to know how much time they spent doing it. Those who were at the beginning of building their businesses were moving in high gear and filling their to-do lists to the max, multi-tasking every minute of the day. One woman proudly said, “I can do in one day what others do in three.” The more I interviewed, the more I discovered what was missing from my life. And what I learned was profound.
The women who are leading successful lives and building healthy, thriving businesses aren’t stressed out! They aren’t running around like crazy women mutli-tasking their way to success. Some of these successful women were energetic, others peaceful and calm, and still others full of life and light and laughter! And I thought, “That’s what I want!” We don’t have to give up our time, our freedom, or our joy as we strive to be successful! Would you like to learn what they do and the secret to why they are successful?
They do a little bit of NOTHING everyday. I have to admit, when I realized what was different I was excited and intrigued, but when I began to implement it, it was not so easy. Doing nothing felt bad. It made my heart race at first, and I certainly wasn’t peaceful and calm! Doing nothing brought up all kinds of thoughts for me… thoughts of looking lazy, entitled, selfish, or as if life might pass me by if I don’t grab onto every part of it! It brought up fear that I’d disappoint someone if I didn’t manage to get it all done that day. It brought up insecurities I didn’t even know I had. And most of all, it felt like if I let up or let down even for a minute, all those plates I had been spinning were going to come crashing down around me. Well, guess what. They did. But the world didn’t come to an end, and my world began to open up to other possibilities! I realized that without giving my spirit time to breathe now and then, it couldn’t support me in meeting my goals and making dreams come true! So take care of yourself and honor your spirit and give this a try!
Here are four MUST DO tips to help you build in time to create breathing room for your spirit to do its work alongside of you each day:
- Build in white space on your calendar. Literally schedule three 30 minute appointments on your calendar each day for you to enjoy without multi-tasking. I call them a date with your soul. During that 30 minutes, you can only do one thing and it must be focused on slowing down, relaxing your mind, breathing, and whatever you do, it has to be good for your soul. Take a walk. Take a power nap. Read a magazine. Prepare and slowly eat a healthy, nutritious lunch. Sit on the patio and enjoy some sunshine on your face. Have a high-tea using your best china! Be totally present to the one thing you are doing for relaxation and self care. If 3 times a day feels too overwhelming to you (that’s an eye-opener if so), start with just one 30 minute date with your soul. This time is critical to your success because without it, you have no time for your creative energy to rest and recharge!
- Create one new self-care ritual each week. Rituals are amazingly effective because they require us to be fully present while nurturing us in mind, body and spirit. Add one new self-care ritual this week and then practice it daily. Buy a luxurious bath and body scrub using aromatherapy that wakes up or relaxes your spirit! Create a morning ritual of gratitude. Light a candle and write in your journal each evening. Make a pitcher full of spa-water, adding in slices of lemons, oranges, and limes and enjoy it throughout your day. All of these rituals are sending positive messages to your spirit, and your spirit, in return will support you in creating your best life!
- Learn to say, ‘No.’ I can’t say it enough. Look at what is consuming your time and energy. Is it aligning with your deeper purpose? I remember a time when saying ‘no’ was the most difficult thing I ever had to do. It took a lot of energy for me to say no to someone (more energy than it took to do what I agreed to do in the first place)! But what I learned that saying ‘yes’ to something I didn’t want to do was saying ‘no’ to my own goals and dreams. I denied my spirit over and over by adding task after task, chore after chore, commitment after commitment, to my day to day living. Eliminate at least three things you are doing this week that are not serving your purpose, or feeding your spirit. Then, allow that time and space you just opened up to be void of anything else. Let it be breathing room on your calendar!
- Slow down the pace. I recently participated in a 21-day Detox with Purpose program. It was an amazing three weeks because it pushed all my buttons. One of the many benefits I gained from participating in mindful eating habits was how ‘time’ played the key role in what it was I ate. I didn’t have ‘time’ to go to the store every other day so I could keep fresh foods on hand. I didn’t have time to prepare my food. I didn’t have time to prepare a good dinner so I ended up ordering pizza or going out (not only is that bad for the waistline, it was horrible for our budget)! During those three weeks, I discovered how good I felt when I took the time to prepare my meals. I loved being in my kitchen and eating fresh savory foods again! When I began, I was grabbing food and mindlessly eating while doing three other tasks… I literally ate to satisfy my hunger. Now, I eat to nourish my mind, body and spirit because I’m giving myself permission to do so. I’m slowing down to be fully present in conversations. I’m slowing down to actually notice the world around me. Today, I challenge you to move slowly. Put yourself in slow motion and see what shows up. You might feel like you want to jump out of your skin. You may notice how impatient you’ll become. Your heart may race and you might even feel yourself hyperventilate. That’s okay… stick with it. It may feel very awkward at first, depending on how fast you’ve set the pace of your life. I promise, eventually, you’ll love it.
We are growing dangerously close to reaching the peak of our fast-paced lifestyles. We’ve created beliefs that tell us fast-paced living is associated with LIVING BIG and FINDING SUCCESS. It’s not. Simple lives, mindful activities, present choices are what living big and being successful are all about.
So make a date with your soul each day. Find time throughout the day to become centered and grounded. Create a ritual that celebrates YOU and practice it daily. Eliminate busy-work and long to-do lists by saying ‘no’ more often. Slow down and breathe in life each day… allow yourself time to fully feel the gratitude of this life you’re living. Those are the secret stepping stones to meeting your potential and succeeding in life!