How to protect your time for more energy, vitality and joy - Part 1
In this blog post series, I’m going to share with you how to set limits around your time, and reconnect to what’s important, so you have more energy and inspiration to create and do the things that bring you energy, vitality and joy.
For a few years now, I've tried to work in rhythm to my changing energy needs. I’m getting better at listening, interpreting what these are, and allowing myself to respond (note “better” not perfect). I’ve been navigating this with more intention lately, and sharing what works for me with clients and friends who are struggling to make time for what’s important.
One way I’ve done this for a while is tweaking how I work in the transition between each season.
This has more or less coincided with the school holidays, which are practical bookends and boundaries across the year. My “mother role” makes it easy and “acceptable”, to see fewer clients, and take a break from teaching classes at this time.
It’s trickier though to set boundaries around your time day-to-day, week-to week, month to month, year to year based on your energy needs, wants, and your desires. What you identify as your roles and responsibilities, and what you’re allowed to do or not can get in the way of going with what feels more right.
Listening and responding to what your body, energy system and inner voice says you need is key. This is a practice of connecting to your intuition. Choices made from here, based on clear intention will feel stronger and more motivating (I’ll share this with you in the next blog post).
For the moment though, start with just entertaining the idea that you can choose how you spend your time. When you protect your time and treat it as something valuable, you’re also saying that you’re important and valuable too.
And remember, when you’re trying something new, small changes, practiced often, are the perfect way to ingrain a new habit into your neurology and psyche.
Just begin, be experimental, tweak things a little, and check-in with yourself regularly to see what’s working for you.
Begin here …
1. Give yourself permission!
I can’t admit to arriving at this wisdom around setting limits all on my own. Some of my biggest time-use shifts came when a wiser person than me told me I could.
For example, my therapist merely suggested one session “Maybe you need to take a day off a week [to do those things you’re itching to do]?”and my mind was blown. After months of griping how I didn’t seem to have time to paint, listen to blogs, do my online courses I think she’d just had enough, I wasn’t taking her hints, and needed to be literally told I could.
While this seems so simple and obvious to me now, it was as if I’d been snapped out of a fuge,. I’d held a belief I had to be available and bend to suit other’s needs. Her gentle suggestion made me see the truth that “of course I can do that, I’m an adult, I don’t need to ask for permission”.
2. Saying “no” is healthy.
Especially if you’re someone who always say “yes” ! Do any of these feel familiar?
“It feels selfish to do things just for me”,
“I’m more comfortable giving than receiving”,
“Even if I’m busy, I can find time for others”,
“I feel guilty if I say ‘no’”,
“I let others have their way, because it’s not worth the hassle or fight”
“I don’t know what I want, so I let others decide”
There isn’t a week that goes by that boundary work doesn’t come up in session with clients. Resistance to saying “no” “not really” “not now” “not ever” can be STRONG. In my experience, temperament + family/cultural conditioning + life experiences create the program for – ‘a good husband/wife/partner, mother/father/grandparent, child/friend, student/employee/therapist, etc’ …
So saying “no, that doesn’t work for me, I’m going to use my time in this way”, “I’m off now, don’t disturb me for an hour” , “no, I don’t feel comfortable doing that, I’d like to do something else” … can feel uncomfortable and wrong because doing that goes hard against what you’ve believed is right all your life. If it feels like a big deal for you, try these 2 things to build your “no” and practice them EVERYDAY.
Start with finding your ‘no’ to small less risky things (Note- if it’s your habit, it’ll all feel risky, just start super small).
For example, “Can you make me a coffee?” - “No, I can’t”, “Do you want pepper on your meal?” – “No, thankyou, but I’d like some salt”, “Do you want chicken for dinner” - “No, I’d really prefer fish. We can do Chicken tomorrow.”, “Can you work tomorrow” – “No, thanks for asking though. I’m free next week?”.
You get the picture. You see how your language gets more refined? Use your own words but resist apologising for saying no. Stay with the discomfort, it’ll get easier the more you do it. You’re learning a new skill so it’ll feel clunky. The old saying “fake it ‘til you make it” is true in this case. Sometimes you need to do or act first, then the self-belief and new perspective comes afterwards. For now, just DO.
Practice pushing. Literally.
Stand facing a wall, palms on the wall, elbows a little bent, one foot slightly forward of the other. Pressing your hands into the wall, not at 100%, but enough so you feel some muscle activation. Now keep pushing, and start to lengthen your upper spine, breathing more into your chest. At the same time, feel energy moving down your spine, into your hips, legs and feet. Keep pushing for several breaths, then step back and notice how that feels in your body.
A lot of people notice a sense of brightness, energy and power. That it feels good. Now, you don’t have to literally push people when you’re asserting yourself, but if you practice it this way, you’ll be able to connect to the feeling of it in your body when you need it. You’ll soon be able to tap into it just by thinking about it!
That’s it for now. I think that’s heaps for starters. So in the next blog post, I’ll share some ways to tune into what you really want and need. This means going a little deeper inside, and tapping into your intuition. Understanding the ‘why’ behind protecting your time will give you the motivation and direction to take action and set limits. Let me know you go!