Sometimes writing comes easily for me and other times it does not.
It has been difficult to write throughout the month of April. I attempted numerous times to sit down and compose my thoughts and each time I gave up after starring at a blank computer screen for 15 minutes. I was frustrated at the inability to write. So, I decided that I had “writer’s block”.
Google tells me that writer’s block is “the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.” That sounded accurate. So, I self-diagnosed myself with “writer’s block” and packed up the laptop each night with a blank document.
But was this really the problem? Not completely. It was part of the problem but not all of it.
When I dug deeper, I realized that my “writer’s block” was not my illness but rather, was a symptom of a broader issue in my life, which was that life was getting a bit too full, a bit too busy, which didn’t leave time for creative thought.
The pace of life had picked up substantially since January and I was only really noticing it now. The business has taken off which is fantastic but so have the additional events and time commitments that fall outside of my regular work hours on a Tuesday or Thursday. I spend most evenings working on business-related items, which I absolutely love doing as I am a doer, a researcher and a learner at heart! However, this, coupled with the responsibilities of being a wife and mother, and wanting to maintain all other aspects of my life (going to the gym, making home-cooked meals, maintaining relationships with friends and family) meant that I started to feel the first twitches of “burnout”.
One night when I was finished washing the dishes, I looked at the intricately stacked pile that had accumulated in the dry rack and I made this simple realization, which I shared on social media that evening.
“These dishes represent a metaphor for the current stage of my life – full, and not always neatly stacked or organized, but, bursting with colour, different shapes and sizes, designs and textures. Amidst the chaos there is joy! However, sometimes the dishes can get piled too high and they risk falling back into the dirty water. This is the time to re-evaluate why or how the rack got so full and make a plan to change.”
I believe that one of the first steps in trying to make change in your life is taking stock of your current situation and defining the problem areas that are hindering you from taking meaningful steps forward towards your goal.
Stepping back, I defined my problem area as being lack of “free time” in the evenings and on weekends to do things that I like to do and want to do (i.e. such as meal prep, time with friends, time with my church family, investing in my faith). What was the root cause? Taking on too many “extras” that fell outside of my regular work hours.
What are your “extras”? What is hindering you from achieving your goal(s)?
My job as a dietitian involves helping people to make changes in their lives around nutrition. When I meet with my clients, I ask them to identify their nutrition goals, but most importantly, I pose questions around what is currently going on in their lives, their daily schedule and pin-pointing any potential problem areas or barriers that are hindering them from making these goals become reality. The most challenging part of making change is making ROOM for change. Deciding what to let go of in favour of investing in the health of one’s body.
I have many clients who are working moms and dads and want to eat healthier but with their current schedules are unable to carve out the time required towards making this change. Typically, when asked if there is something that can be let go of in favour of making room to work on their nutrition goals, the answer is "No. I need to do everything that I am currently doing."
I get it. Life is full.
But does it have to be overflowing?
Taking care of yourself is vitally important so that you can take care of others in your life. And by others, this doesn’t just include kids or partners, this includes your work or colleagues. Whoever is an important “other” in your world.
So how can you make change happen?
Here are three simple steps you can take to make room for change to happen.
- Realize and acknowledge what’s not working. Find the root source of what's hindering you from investing the time that is required to achieve your goal(s).
- Take an inventory of what you are currently doing and order the roles/tasks from most important/enjoyable to least important/enjoyable. Cross off at least one role or task that is at the bottom of the list.
- Find that key motivating factor that will invigorate you to make room for change. This will vary for everyone. When you figure it out, put a visual reminder of this somewhere in your house or on your phone or whenever you find yourself looking often to keep it in the forefront of your mind.
How did I make my change happen?
I created some new boundaries around “extra” work engagements each month and bid farewell to a contract and volunteer job that had lost their appeal. I also relaxed my expectations about weekday household cleanliness.
It's a work in progress, but these small changes have made a big difference.
So, my question to you is, what does the metaphorical stack of dishes look like in your house right now?
Take it one bite at a time,