I’m not a productivity expert, I can’t tell you how to block your time or choose which project to do first. In fact I often struggle with these types of decisions. But even if each day is not perfect, I’m ok if I feel that in general I know what I want and why.
What do I mean by that? When I’m my best self, I spend my time doing things that matter to me or make me feel inspired and energized. I focus on things that I value, like writing, walking in nature, teaching what I know, and connecting with people I love. And having a clear understanding of why these things matter keeps me making them priorities. Of course I still have to do the laundry and go to the store, pay bills and deal with returning packages, but if my life is also filled with time spent doing what I value, I feel I am following my path.
But sometimes I get tripped up, I stumble. Sometimes I don’t even realize this is happening until the problem has been going on for a while.
Writing about times you’ve stumbled helps get you on back on course
In the past, I’ve gotten off course, but didn’t notice until later. Like the time I was asked to be on a board of a non-profit. I loved the mission of the organization and jumped to say yes, but after the first year I felt uninspired with my role and exhausted by the amount of work. When my two-year term ended, I declined to continue. It was a relief to say no.
Yes, I loved the mission, but I had jumped in without figuring out up front what was really involved. The majority of the tasks were things I’m good at but don’t light me up and give me energy. It’s so easy to fall into doing things we are good at instead of what really lights us up, but that leaves you with less energy for what you truly love—and can lead to resentment.
But writing and reflecting about what happened can provide clues to why you stepped off your path. For me, writing reminded me that I want to please people and saying NO is hard. Reflecting on the experience taught me to pause before saying yes and check in — Is this opportunity something I want to do or just something I would be good at? Will it create energy and engagement or will I feel exhausted or resentful? Am I doing this because I really want to or am I afraid to hurt someone’s feelings or disappoint people? Are my boundaries secure, am I being true to what matters to me?
When you can, choosing what lights you up — what really matters to you — over what drains you makes sense.
But what if you’re not sure what makes you feel alive or what matters to you?
Believe me, this is totally possible. I started my work life as a corporate attorney and it took me a decade to realize that being really good at something does not always fill your soul or make you feel meaning. I stumbled around for a while until I reconnected with the fact that I am a creative at my core and what I value is helping others find their why, caring and connecting, nature and art.
What really matters to you? What lights you up? How can you connect with that? It could be work or volunteering, creating a program or exploring a new hobby. And it may change. Things that were once my dream aren’t now, and that’s okay.
What I know for sure, after helping hundreds of workshop participants and clients, is that writing and reflecting on your stories is an amazing way to explore your life, your joys, your values, your strengths and gain clarity on what you want — and how to get it.
Noticing and writing about the times you felt totally alive, energized, happy, engaged, or in awe is an amazing avenue for self-knowledge. By getting curious and reflecting on patterns, you recognize what you need more of and what you should include in your finest life. And wouldn’t adding a little bit of those activities into each and every day be fantastic?
And writing down times you struggled, getting curious about how you got through — what you did right — and even how you would have handled it if you had been calm and mindful, is powerful.
Similarly noticing when you did stumble and how you successfully managed that can help you going forward. Having a plan of how to get back up and on your path after stumbling can help you push forward and persist instead of giving up on your dreams.
Want to try this out with me?
I’d love to guide you through the process of using your stories to move toward a life you love even more. Download my free guide, 3 Steps to Having a Meaningful Life You Love to start designing your best life—a life with more energy, engagement, and clarity.