If your life has been anything like mine recently, you may be surrounded by bags, boxes, suitcases, and other remnants of the holiday season. If you are like me, you may have discovered over the holidays what really matters, and what doesn’t. No matter how simple we attempt to make our lives, there are moments when we find ourselves filled to the brim. The end of the year, this week between the major holidays and New Year’s, is a time when we may want to sift through our lives, releasing, letting go, and emptying out some spaces in our lives. What are some of the habits, patterns, and old choices that you are considering letting go? We have the capacity to create both space and time in our lives to live more fully and according to what really matters. Here are 7 simple steps for creating space and time for a more fulfilling life.
Establish a set of priorities. Not everything we can do in life is worthy of our time and energy. If you find yourself feeling equally stressed about every task, chore, activity, relationship or plan, you may have lost your sense of perspective. Don’t worry, you can get it back. Make a list of twelve things you would like to do in the next year. For example, you may focus on big projects (finish writing a book, get the deck rebuilt, clean out the garage or basement, plan a trip overseas). Other projects may entail establishing a new habit, pattern of behavior, or style of living (have a regular exercise or yoga practice, be less judgmental, eat a more balanced diet, drive less and walk more). Consider small changes that you have put off. They take up a lot of energy every time you face them or walk past them. Clean out the kitchen drawer, and set it up so it’s functional and not a junk spot. Get the office reorganized. Set up an online bookkeeping system (and back it up with a paper file once it’s set up online, not the other way around). Face it, the computer is here to stay.
Take care of yourself. Honestly assess yourself. What needs to be taken care of to make you healthier, happier, and more productive? Start with the 5-6 goals you have that would make you feel happy, successful, and fulfilled. Then add 5-6 other goals that would benefit your life and the lives of those around you. Think of this as a series of concentric circles with you in the middle. Begin taking better care of yourself, and then you will have more time, space, and energy to be supportive of others. This might include finding a new doctor and setting up appointments for health needs (get an eye exam, teeth cleaned, annual check up, acupuncture and chiropractic wellness checkups). It might be getting more rest, or playing more.
Do your yearly financial check up. Since our health and happiness are linked to our attitudes and habits around money and finances, it’s important to do an honest assessment of our finances, our needs, our resources, our budget, and our plans. Rather than wasting time worrying about finances, put positive effort into facing the facts of your financial life, and make some plans for a healthier year ahead. What habits are costing you time and money? What are you spending too much for? For example, I carry car insurance, and rarely think about how much control I have over the costs. This year, before it was time to renew my car insurance, I shopped around and found a much better deal with an agent I like. A little time and a willingness to make a change, saves me over $70 a month. Also, face the music! Sometimes when we are overwhelmed, we practice the pretend game, “if I don’t think about it or look at it, it will go away.” Dangerous game to play with bills and money. Create a ritual for organizing your finances and for paying bills. Set aside a specific time and place, and bring your finances into alignment with the other important parts of your life.
Consider getting help. Money is energy, and is here to serve us. We work for that energy, and we need to honor the exchange of our energy for the goods and services we require. Get some advice from your friends or associates who seem to be good at handling money. One of my friends is a former banker, and her attitude about money is so refreshing. Another friend is a fellow photographer, and she has taught me a lot about valuing my work and the business end of my art. When I need an idea of how to do a better job of organizing my finances, I seek their counsel. If you work at home or run your own business, do yourself a favor and get a reputable, available tax person and bookkeeper. My yearly visit to get my taxes done, and my regular visits with my bookkeeper (about 4 times a year), help me establish myself as a professional by honoring the work of other professionals who can relieve me of the time I waste on tasks I do not need to do myself. A great deal of our angst around money seems to be around thinking we have to do everything ourselves. That is neither necessary nor smart. With your finances, and perhaps other areas of your life (typing, research, major house cleaning), think about hiring someone to help you. Before you say you cannot afford it, think about the time (time is money) and energy (energy can equate to money) you waste on work that distracts you from what you really want to do. Also, you give someone else the money (energy) to keep the abundance flowing.
Consider and reconsider how you are spending your time, energy, and resources. Draw a circle, and on a separate paper, make a list of all the activities you do daily, weekly, monthly. Be brutally honest with this. Next, divide the circle into pie-shaped slices noting the percentage of time you spend doing each activity. Remember activities like sleeping, driving, eating, preparing meals, doing chores. Once you have your pie chart for each day, do another pie chart for the week; another one for the month. Go back and fit the weekly and monthly into the equation, and see if you are over-programed. Notice what is missing. Is there time for rest, exercise, entertainment, sleep? Getting an accurate idea of how you are spending your time and energy gives you the chance to face the real issues that are keeping your life from being more fulfilling. Sometimes we overwork; other times we over play. What does your life look like right now? What would you like to change, add, or release from your experience?
Evaluate Choices. Consider what areas of your life are currently not sustainable. If you spend 12 hours driving to a job that pays you for 4 hours, you may not be working very efficiently. The cost of gas alone (let alone wear and tear on you, your car, and your ecological footprint), may indicate that you cannot afford the job. If you find yourself rationalizing, “but I have to…..because I need the money,” you may just be kidding yourself. You are not earning enough money to pay for the cost of the commute. If you are a parent of a young child, you may need more rest. What areas of your life could be changed so you could have some rest? If you want to have more time to read or write, consider waking a half an hour earlier or watching an hour’s less television.
Change things up. Routine can be very good for us sometimes, but if we get trapped by a habit, routine, belief, or pattern of behavior, it may cost us in any number of ways–physically, emotionally, financially, mentally, and spiritually. Use your prayer and meditation practices to gain insight into what really needs to be reevaluated in order to live a life more in keeping with your true nature and needs. Make some new choices, and plan on how to operationalize those plans. To avoid panic, give yourself a few months to make the changes. Set a plan into action, bit by bit. “This week I am going to begin a local job search,” or “this week I am going to begin working from home three days a week.” Setting the intention, based on your true desire and needs, enables space, time, and resources to open for us. As long as we hold onto something, someone, or a belief, we are tied to it, and our energy is not freed to accept something that is healthier or more conducive to our happiness. Write the plan out. Giving an idea language…putting it in words (saying or writing it), releases the idea to be acted upon. It is not just up to you to make things happen, but it is up to you to know what you want to happen, and then be willing to get out of the way, and let it begin happening.
Create new rituals for making choices, and for making our choices part of our new lifestyle. When you are deciding what you want, make intentional choices. Unless you want to cast your fate to the winds, to be the result of someone else’s choices, spend some time becoming clear about your own needs, desires, and intentions. This time of the year is a good time to do some mental and physical housecleaning. What in your life needs to be released? What choices are you willing to make to change life for the better? Create a regular ritual of cleaning out the house, and getting yourself set mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually for more intentional changes, choices, and actions.
The seven steps for creating more time and space in your life may enable you to take some steps toward living more in tune with your own needs, desires, and calling. Allow yourself to live the life that adds to your health, happiness, productivity, and relationships. We cannot be of any good to anyone else if we are worn out and not living according to our highest good. Consider setting an excellent model for your children and grandchildren, by being more responsive to healthy choices.