Got Competing Priorities?
This past week I had one of the busiest weeks I’ve had in my business and it felt amazing. I also found myself very physically depleted to the point where Friday I took a 3.5 hour nap.
Luxurious, I know.
But here’s the thing. I’m trying to grow my business. To grow a business it takes time, effort and focus. Last week’s busy was NOTHING compared to my schedule from when I was in my corporate career.
I bring this up because If I can’t handle my business at it’s current level of busy, how will I be able to handle it if it grows?
When I asked myself this question, I immediately felt fearful.
I remember having this same feeling when I went to college. I knew I was way more “stretched” in High School in terms of time commitment and activities but my life was also very different. I was in a dorm (not my old bedroom). I wasn’t eating the food I grew up on. I wasn’t dancing 6 days a week. I discovered alcohol and cigarettes. I pulled all-nighters more often to cram for exams and finals.
My body was definitely experiencing more of life. My brain was experiencing a lot as well. There was a significant amount of new stimulus and lots more to remember for myself (vs. being at home with my very attentive and amazing family).
After being overwhelmed with exhaustion from my output last week I felt an urgent need to get my priorities in order so I knew where my energy was being spent. I wrote out a list of every activity I was currently investing time in, from writing these blog articles to studying the materials of my teachers and from specific book titles I want to read to cooking and doing laundry.
I cut the list so that each item had its own slip of paper.
Then I got really quiet.
One by one I picked up each small slip of paper and I said the words out loud.
I paid attention to what happened in my body when I read the words. Did I feel light? Or was I overcome with heaviness? (If you want to try this just say "yes" a few times and see what that feels like and then say "no" a few times and feel the difference. Go back and forth until you can really feel it. I suggest you end on yes.)
If I felt light, I placed the slip in one side of my desk; if I felt heavy, the slip went on a different side.
When I was done this first level of sorting I moved to the second. I took the “light” pile and I grouped things together. There were three final categories: opportunities, learning and tasks. Opportunities were ways to earn money or things I want to invest in. In learning, I got clear on which lessons and teachers are most important to me right now.
Finally the “tasks” are things that make my life work but it was important to include them because 1. they take time and 2. you can “farm” out just about anything in our modern and super convenience-oriented world and I wanted to be sure where I stood on the basics; cooking, laundry, cleaning, walking the dog, etc.
Here’s the thing about focusing your energy - it works a whole lot better if what you're focused on feeds you energy back. Heavy things take energy away, light things feed you.
Heavy doesn’t mean no. Heavy means not right now. Most of them were easy to put aside, some were very difficult. These slips became tasks of what to cancel, alter or communicate.
After this exercise I feel refreshed. I feel focused and I feel ready for whatever is next in my business and in my life.
I also know that there will come a time when that focus will need to adapt to the changing situation and I’ll do this exercise again.
It’s a great formula to get you out of overwhelm and dispersed, unfocused energetic patterns and make sure you’re using the best parts of yourself on the things that matter most.
I hope you find it useful.