What I should have done this summer:
I should have invested in…
- Updating my website (launched in 2014)
- Developing better branding and business marketing strategies
- Expanding upon my pre-existing wellness curriculum
- Creating new PowerPoints to support that new curriculum
- Networking on Linked-In & building my social media presence
- Building my subscriber list & coaching clientele
- Securing future speaking engagements
- Connecting with people on Facebook
But instead, this is where I invested most of my time and energy:
- Spending quality time with my husband (including a lovely vacation together)
- Spending quality time with my children (who thankfully still need me)
- Connecting with new family members (newborn great nieces & nephews)
- Meeting friends, old and new, for coffee, lunch dates, and even movies
- Enjoying the beautiful and consistently warm summer weather
- Sharing in delicious and nutritious family meals (BBQ’s included)
- Organizing and refreshing my home with some necessary decluttering
- Visiting my sister’s cottage and enjoying time with family in nature
- Picnicking, taking walks, and enjoying vanilla almond-milk lattes
- Continuing to learn by reading books and listening to podcasts
This summer I turned 50 and set the intention to engage with life and to connect with people; I wanted to prioritize having real-life experiences. So much of my life has been about completing tasks on a to-do list—first as a stay-at-home mom, and later as a career woman desperate to carve out a path of my own in service—that I felt like this was my must for the summer.
I believe that in order to achieve true, sustainable health and wellness we all need to prioritize a balanced lifestyle. I also believe that life is a great balancing act and so this balanced state is something that we can never truly master. Realistically speaking, we tend to move in and out of this state.
The reason why mindfulness is so critical these days is because so many of us lead such hectic, distracted, and imbalanced lives. Choosing conscious awareness allows us to become more mindful of how and where we invest our time and energy so that we can live more balanced, fulfilled, and thus happier lives—lives filled with more must than should. Allow me to explain.
As human beings we are conditioned towards judgment, especially judgment of self. And so we have a natural tendency to download our shoulds on a regular basis. And with those shoulds come the guilt as well as the blame that are embedded in our stories and become part of our daily lives.
A perfect example of this sits right at the center of one of my own stories. Finding balance within the roller coaster of my life with chronic pain feels like my life’s work and is a very big should for me: “I should have healed by now” is oftentimes the self-talk at the heart of that roller-coaster ride.
Shoulds are both exhausting and emotionally draining. They suck the life right out of you leaving you feeling unhappy and depleted.
This past week I learned that a woman I knew years ago (our children were good friends in elementary school) sadly passed away within a 10-month period of a brain tumor diagnosis. I have spent a great deal of time in deep introspection pondering this tragic circumstance.
One important realization that surfaced was the following: As much as I want to serve this world as author, speaker, and coach, I do want to serve my family first. As much as I seek work-life balance, or what is referred to today as work-life integration, family life for me will always be one huge step ahead of everything else.
I am so grateful that I took the time to be mom and wife again this summer. I did miss my ongoing workshops and wellness coaching, but in essence wellness coaching is an integral part of everyday life as wife and mom. And so, I was called upon to do some essential coaching this summer.
I do believe wholeheartedly that life is all about right timing and I trust that my opportunities to serve will unfold as they are meant to. But first and foremost I want to prioritize walking the wellness talk and living the wellness practices that I teach every single day within my home, so that what I teach is not like sand in my mouth.
So yes, this summer I chose to be mindful rather than judgmental. I noticed all of my shoulding and saw it for what it was—just a part of my stories and my overthinking mind. Given that, I chose to spend my summer doing what I felt I must do, and I know in my heart that I invested my time and energy wisely.
Yet as I write this, of course, I also feel some new shoulds arising. I still catch myself saying, “Perhaps I should have given my business more attention over the summer so that my fall/winter schedule would be more full.” Here I go again—it’s a never-ending cycle…and for each and every one of us!
The teachable moment here is clearly around the word should. We need to recognize when we’re shoulding ourselves. We need to transform our shoulds into must.
You have to ask yourself some very important questions: What must you do in your life right now? What must you give yourself permission to prioritize at this time? What core values must you honor and not neglect? What part of your soul must be fed?
What is YOUR biggest should? I challenge you to become mindful of the number of times you use the phrases should have, would have, could have, if only, and what if. Pay attention to how they make you think and feel and then decide whether or not you want to continue using them.
Assess your shoulds and clarify your core values today. Only once you’ve done this work will you be ready to explore YOUR must do’s!
PS- Don’t underestimate the power of words! (I’ll save that as a topic for a future blog.)