Guest post by Kristy Swanson.
You may have noticed (or perhaps not) that I’ve been a bit Missing in Action lately. No newsletters sent out in the last few weeks, no new blog posts, very little in the way of Facebook updates, Tweets, or any other way of keeping in touch with you.
You see, a few weeks ago, I hit a wall—I’d been focused so hard on working, on being productive, on getting things DONE, that I realized I was missing everything else going on in life. Like summer, for example. And given that I live in Seattle, summer is pretty precious and you don’t want to miss it when it finally shows up.
So I decided to cut myself some slack, and just let myself BE for a bit. I loosened up the reins on the DOING part of things, and instead tuned in to myself and what I needed or wanted in any given moment.
And it’s been a really satisfying, grounding time. For example:
- I’ve allowed myself to wake up without using an alarm clock, letting my body naturally decide when it’s had enough sleeping. (Well, except for that feline alarm clock I have, who doesn’t exactly have a snooze function on her. But anyhooo…)
- I’ve paid attention to where my energy wants to go, and I follow it. Some days that means being physically active. Other days it means lounging around reading a good book.
- I eat when my body feels hungry, and eat whatever sounds good. I’ve made sure I’m catching the summer bounty: fresh heirloom tomatoes, corn, watermelon, fresh fish. White wine. Ice cream. Blackberries.
- I’ve made it a point to indulge in sensory experience, from stopping to smell roses (literally) to jumping into a cold lake and noticing the feeling on my skin as I float there, to eating a fresh peach and letting the juice run down my chin and over my hands.
- And yes, I’m even doing things related to work: meeting with new clients, reaching out to strategic partners and having tea, reading some of the books I’ve had stacking up that I’ve wanted to get to.
Taking the time to pay attention to my own energy, rhythm, and pace these past few weeks has been a really interesting learning experience. I’ve been spending so much time lately thinking about what it means to be gutsy, and in a way this experience feels like the polar opposite–I’ve been quiet, still, and a bit reclusive. And my first instinct is to think that to be gutsy, you have to go-go-go, keep movin’ and shakin’ and maxing out on all fronts.
Then I remember: No. That’s not what gutsy is. Gutsy is tuning in to your inner voice, and paying attention–and sometimes, that voice will be telling you to ease up and let go. And that maybe the gutsiest thing you can do is to be your own best advocate, in whatever form that may take. Tweet this tidbit!
And for me this time, that form was to stop trying so hard for a minute. Which felt weird, but good all at once.
While I’m a bit worried that I might slide down a slippery slope to find that I’m doing nothing but wasting time and being lazy, I’m also aware that left unfettered, my natural state is to be engaged somehow, even if it’s as simple as being fully present to the moment I’m in, or as full-throttle as grinding uphill on my bicycle. And I’m learning that my gut, my intuition, my energy, my inner whatever-you-want-to-call-it, is pretty spot on if I just pay attention.
As I start pointing myself back to a more work-focused use of my time, I’m trying to carry this mindfulness with me. Leo Babuta writes about creating the profound workday, and the idea really resonates with me. I’m searching for ways to do less crazy work and more of the right work, to do the things that matter and let go of the rest. To simplify what I give my focus and attention to, and then give my energy fully to those few things.
It’s the beginning of the school year, and though I’m no longer in school I feel that familiar pull of the season: getting back into a routine, ramping up the workload, and starting new projects. I love the feeling of getting back into the saddle again—but this time, I’m making the decision to do it more consciously. I’m going to work simply and with intention, and to continue to honor where my energy is in the moment, but to stop driving myself so hard at work when what I might really need is to stop and smell the roses.
Kristy Swanson is the Chief Catalyst and Velvet Hammer at Kristy Swanson Coaching. As a life and leadership coach, she is an ardent advocate for helping gutsy women do cool things. For more info, you can find her at kristyswan.com.
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