Last week I was frozen.
Sitting in my office, looking over the various appointments I had scheduled for the week, I was aware of the magnitude of my dilemma. While a few of them lit me up, there were many others that felt like a drag.
Why did I agree to that? What would it serve?
The irony of these questions is that I’m smack in the middle of writing the second chapter of my first book – a chapter about time. To be specific, this chapter is a very useful tutorial on “next level” time management. (Sigh.)
They say that we always have room to grow. Last week, I could personally attest to the truth in that statement. Here’s how I knew –
I am a highly skilled, profoundly practiced badass at managing time.
Seriously. If you’ll permit me 30 seconds of bragging…
I have been able to accomplish more things in a year than many people do in five. In the past eighteen months I finished graduate school, started a business from scratch, designed and built three significant training programs, traveled the world, spent an entire month dancing and made more money than I have ever made before. I made commitments that required wild efficiency in order to execute, and I managed to deliver on each and every one of them. And yet… something was missing.
The problem was, my schedule is was so full that it was nearly impossible to tell what was missing!
As Annie Dillard famously says in her book The Writing Life, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
It appears that I have a habit of spending mine chasing the next big thing, and wondering how quickly I can reach the finish line. This isn’t to say that I’m not present with people in the moment. Most of the time, I am. Deeply so. But that level of presence, paired with that level of speed and that amount of doing means something else must get sacrificed.
For me, it’s often deep internal listening.
And also preparation. Though they may, in fact, be the same thing.
A few weeks ago I heard one of mentors parrot the expression, “if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.” I had heard it before, but this time it caught my attention in a different way. I found myself wondering, “how do I know if it’s a hell yes?” A few moments later, I laughed out loud. That is exactly the point. Ironic. Ridiculous, even.
In my haste to do all of the right things, I’d forgotten how to listen to the voice inside me that was built to let me know which things are right.
How many times have I blown by that voice this year?
I’m afraid to count.
Judging from my calendar this week alone, it may be in the tens of thousands. I have heard myself say yes out of interest, out of obligation, out of kindness, out of jealousy and out of fear of missing out. Meanwhile, each of those yes’s produced commitments that took up all of the precious moments in which I could have more thoroughly and gracefully prepared for the one or two things that really were on my “hell yes” list.
I know I am not alone in this.
Even the mentors who guide me are wrapped up in the endless pursuit of more. Even the gurus who designed the tools that have changed my life are still operating on the same egoic playing field.
This morning, I’m tired. And I want something different.
The alternative, frankly, is terrifying. Do nothing, and wait. And prepare. And listen. Get ready. Clarify who you really are. Make yourself visible. Be intriguing. And when that single perfect fly does finally follow the trail home and land in your web… pounce immediately and enlist your entire heart and soul in consuming it. Then bow to the God from which it came, express sincere gratitude, and request another.
This week, I want to play a game with life. I challenge you to join me… if you dare.
In your movement practice,
Pay exquisite attention to what is happening right now.
Do one thing at a time. And as you do it, allow your mind to fixate here: What do you want? How will it feel? Let your own body teach you where the doorway lies. Discover through movement what it means to really choose. And, when you have chosen, follow the thread all the way to its end.
Was it everything you hoped it would be? If not, try again, until you find the sweet spot between knowing and longing, and learn how to linger there.
Say no. And keep saying no. Spend a day doing nothing. Spend two days. Take the time it takes to hear the voice inside that has been drowning in the waves of your over commitment. The voice is like a homing device, built to point you toward the very essence of your life. Listen. Patiently. Expectantly.
All of your ideas of right and wrong were just a child’s training wheels, to be laid aside when you can finally live with veracity and with love.
Your shoulds and foreclosed choices are training those wheels. I dare you to cast them aside and see what happens next.
In the game with you,
PS – I realize that I may be shooting myself in the foot by write a blog of this kind. Here I am, coach and trainer, airing my “dirty laundry” as they say… But I love to write about my challenges as I am breaking through. I write so that my challenges may inspire you. If you find yourself feeling sorry for me in all of this, I offer you one more challenge:
where, how or when might these words also be true for you?
I share my practice – in life and in movement – as an invitation to join me on the unfolding path to freedom, as best I can see it today.