It’s February! How did that happen we ask ourselves? Weren’t we just looking at the first page of our fresh and new diary, thinking what a glorious feeling it was that the year had yet to unfold and what possibilities lay ahead?
Then suddenly, it’s February. I asked a colleague how her week was going the other day. She responded with, “I feel like I’m hanging on to the tail of a wild dog!” That made me smile as I recognised the feeling. And I know for a fact that I am not alone.
So why is this one of the most often cited reasons for people feeling, well, less than perfectly in control? This sense that life races ahead and unless we hang on tight, we get left behind. I have two Labradors. On our morning walk to the park, they are also like wild dogs. After a run, they are calm, well-behaved and willing to be gently led to the next activity. I want my life to look like that. Calm, obedient, good looking and satisfying!
We could list the many reasons why life today is this chaotic and demanding. Technology; expectations (our own and others), distractions and multiple roles to mention a few. We need to manage time better. Or do we? Perhaps managing priorities and even our energy is a better place to start?
How often do people say, “I have no time to exercise”? Of course, they do. It’s just that exercise is a lower priority than the other things in their life. And we all have that choice. If we ask ourselves the simple questions:
What do I want more of?
What do I want less of?
The answers will be revealing. The things that get in the way will be competing priorities. What counts is how much you want that missing aspect of your life. How much do you value it? Worth spending some time thinking about that.
Then there’s this question of exhaustion, or simply feeling too flat to be bothered. Try asking:
What gives me energy and what drains me?
When am I at my best?
With a bit of careful planning it is possible to organise our day so that we play to our strengths. If you do you best thinking in the early morning make sure you have a way to record your ideas. If your energy is low in the mid afternoon, perhaps plan to do mundane tasks that don’t require much thought. Or find a way of boosting it by slotting in exercise at a time that gives a flow on effect. Don’t leave the things you hate doing for the time you feel the least motivation to do anything! Take time out to work out how your natural energy flows.
We can’t make 24 hours any longer than it is. But what we can do is ensure that we get the maximum result from the time we spend on a task/project.
To do this we have to organise our mind rather than live to the clock. Margaret Moore writes of the six Rules of Order in her latest book “Organising your Mind, Organising your Life” and she stresses the need for developing the ability to focus and cut out distractions at appropriate times. On the flip side, we also need to cultivate the ability to switch tasks without getting flustered and annoyed. Very often our emotional state prevents us from being at our best and neuroscience shows that our thoughts can in fact calm the pre-frontal cortex – the part of our brain that produces emotions that can sweep us along in a positive, or sometimes negative way. Panic, anxiety, frustration all work against our working in a relaxed steady state. If we can start to recognise what patterns we fall into that make that dog run (the one we are trying to hold onto), we can then begin to retrain our brains and regain control.
Wellness Coaching is a rapidly growing field
Contrary to what people think, poor lifestyle habits do not stop at what we ingest, whether we move enough and what tine we go to bed. Instead we are working with people at a deeper level to help them be more better performers, have more peace of mind, improve the quality of their relationships etc. Together we set not only physical goals, but mental ones as well. Exercise, nutrition, managing thoughts and emotions become the tools to create change and much of our work focuses on helping people work out what they want and why they want it and then understanding why it is difficult to achieve.
This realisation is spreading through the health, fitness and wellness industries and very quickly into the corporate world where the main measure of success has always been financial return on investment. What is happening now is that companies are recognising that what goes into creating this success is a multitude of factors, many of them concerning the people who work in the organisation and their level of satisfaction or “wellness”.