Balance in a Hectic Life

1 Oct

We are back from summer holiday, back to school and heading right into the holiday season.  I couldn’t believe it when I walked into a store over Labor Day weekend to see Halloween decorations hitting the shelves.  It did make me think about the cycles our clients go through during the year.  August is always a bit quieter around FIT as clients squeeze the last drops of summer out before the fall schedule begins.  Then there’s much excitement in September as the kids start back at school and life gets back into its ‘normal’ rhythm- until end of quarter PTA meetings, carpools, a sick child, and the like disrupt it.  I once heard a professional clown give an inspirational talk about the rigors of adulthood.  Her central theme was that life is a lot like juggling and there are certain tricks that we can all learn to help us keep all our balls in the air.

Intellectually we all know that we need to take care of ourselves and have heard the statement ‘you can’t take care of anybody else until you take care of yourself.’  Still, there are an alarming number of us who continue to promise that we’ll take care of ourselves once ‘things’ settle down and we’ll just do our best in the meantime.  Like most endeavors, the ‘taking care’ probably sounds like a lot more work than it actually is… when most people hear about Serena doing an ironman (or two as the case may be), the response is, and rightly so, something awestruck like, “Wow, I could never do that!”  But, the fact is Serena had never done a triathlon prior to 3 years ago, hadn’t swam competitively, and was only a recreational runner.  I’m certainly not saying that any one could do the same, but I am pointing out that with commitment, anything is possible.

First step?  Prioritize.  All of us have lots of things that we ‘should’ or feel we need to do, so what’s the easiest way to get started?  For some, the best starting point will be the thing that will have the greatest impact. For others, the first step will be the thing that seems least disruptive to their current routine.  This may sound silly but my first step was to get rid of my instant espresso machine that required little more than a push of a button first thing in the morning and switch to a french press with freshly ground delicious coffee.  Seriously, that was my first step toward taking care of myself when I made the commitment – what it translated to was that first thing in the morning I was taking 4 minutes to do something for myself, and that small act in and of itself made a big difference in my mindset during the early morning chaos that is our life.  For those old enough to remember, I refer to this as my “Calgon, take me away,” moment of the day.

If I could recommend the one thing that I felt would have the greatest impact on the large majority of clients, as well as friends, it would be sleep.  What would it mean to go to bed 1 hour earlier?  30 mins?  Next would be the quality of food choices, followed closely by physical activity.  Having said that, leading up to and in between the Big 3, there are the little steps, like making and enjoying a cup of freshly pressed coffee.

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