I hear it all too often from business owners:
“I am SO overwhelmed by everything I need to do in my business!”
I have to say, I totally get it.
You’re serving clients, marketing your business, and you want to have a life. You cross one thing off the list and two more pop up in its place. No wonder you feel drained! And I know you don’t want that.
I have a little insight that will have a big impact:
“You CAN’T have it all.” (Even though I often hear people proclaim the opposite).
The key is to be mindful about WHAT do you really want to devote your life force and your attention to.
In my experience, people get overwhelmed because they’re trying to pack too much “stuff” into their lives that ultimately isn’t that important.
Here are 4 powerful things I’ve done that have helped me shift from feeling overworked and unfocused into a life of meaning and fulfillment and more spaciousness.
I know you have a lot on your plate, so let’s get to it!
Step 1. Identify your Heart Longings
When you take the time to give your heart your undivided attention and really listen to it, it will start talking to you.
Ask yourself this crucial question:
What are the things that my heart truly longs for?
Let the answers come freely and write them down. If you get stuck, take a deep breath and start again. You’ll know when you have the answer. These are the things that your heart wants more than anything else in the world. Your heart sings to think of them.
I call them deepest heart-longings. And they leave clues to help you find them:
1. They stick with you. These “fire in the belly” desires are always chattering in the background as you move from task to task, whispering in your ear as you answer emails or think about your next client.
2. They hang out in the negative space. When I work with my clients, I often hear them express their deepest heart longings without even realizing it. I’ve learned to listen for it. Heart longings often come expressed in the form of a repetitive complaint. If you complain that you never have time for what you want, you may have already identified a heart-longing that you have not made enough room for in your life for yet.
3. They’re risky. Your deepest heart longing may be what scares you most. Getting what we want involves an element of risk and risk leaves us vulnerable. As a result, we sometimes opt to stay in our safety zones while what we want to do lingers a few steps out of reach.
An interesting phenomenon occurs when you use your heart as your gauge instead of your head. Things simplify. A lot. What doesn’t serve you anymore will fall away like a shower of autumn leaves around your feet.
Don’t fight this process. Living your life’s purpose is worth the risk. When you align your life with your heart, your circumstances will naturally organize to support you.
“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
~ The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
2. Discover The Priorities That Matter Most Vs. “Nice-To-Haves”
I have a story about a client of mine..we’ll call him Jeff. I had been coaching Jeff for months.
He often talked about all the things he wanted to do but never seemed to have the right amount of time and space for. I noticed a pattern, so I called Jeff out on it pretty quickly. Here’s what I said:
“The truth is, you have time for everything you care about”
When you say “I don’t have time for this,” you’re really saying is, “I’m choosing not to have time for this because I’m making it a lower priority in my life.”
As Jeff and I worked on identifying his real priorities, we quickly saw positive shifts in his life.
He took the time to become aware of his heart longings and began to consciously make time for them.
We distinguished between the areas of his life that were “nice to haves” and what truly mattered.
And soon after, he started getting what he REALLY wanted.
3. Are You Overcommitted To People Pleasing? If so stop!
Now it’s time to edit the activities in your life that may feel important, but are just taking time away from your own goals.
Take a look at the last week of your life and ask this question:
“Where did you say YES when you really wanted to say NO?”
Making too many peoples’ priorities your own is a surefire way to overwhelm.
Ask your heart the following questions:
Am I keeping commitments out of “obligation” or because I really want to do them? Am I willing to say “no” to someone else in order to say “yes” to myself?
How much of my time and energy is currently dedicated to activities that don’t directly relate to what matters most to me right now? What can I let go of?
Be honest when you answer these questions.
I’d love to hear the answers you’re coming up with in the comments below.
4. Create Daily Rituals
One way to have what matters to you most in your life every day is to create daily rituals (or daily routines).
For example, if you want to have meditation in your life, the easiest way to do that is to build it into a routine. You can create a routine such as “First thing in the morning, I have a glass of water, then I meditate 20 minutes”
People often say they want to implement healthy habits into their daily lives, such as healthy eating. The ones who are successful at it have learned to routinize what nourishes them.
It’s those little changes that we repeat over and over that dictate the quality of our lives.
At first, because I did not create a routine, the elements of self-care that were important to me just didn’t happen.
I made a simple change by adding a daily morning ritual. I have a checklist. Same time each day.
It makes things like taking care of my health or my inner world so much easier.
I noticed my level of happiness and ability to be present and enjoy my wife and my team have grown from this single decision to get in touch with what truly matters, and create time to make it happen.
The ripple effect was that people around me were positively affected by the increase of my own personal happiness and satisfaction.
So now I’m spreading happiness everytime I stick to my daily “self-care” routine!
Here’s a recommended reading for more about creating these simple routines: Zen to Done (ZTD) The Ultimate Productivity System, By Leo Babauta.
Now it’s your turn:
If you’ve decided you want to spend more time with your family, how do you organize that priority into your schedule?
If getting in shape is something you really want, when and how will you make it happen?
Creating a routine, dedicating chunks of time to focus on your top priority, and trimming the fat from your life is what gives space for heart longings to become reality.
You can live with greater flow and ease. Living a life led by the heart requires giving up the idea that you can “have it all”. You can have what truly matters. Start with these simple changes and the rest will follow.