How to cleanse your calendar & life: part two [the hard part]
In part one of this mini-series on how to cleanse your calendar, I invited you to create a resentment list — a list of tasks, commitments, items on your calendar, relationships, or parts of your daily routine that make you feel bitter, heavy, and angry at yourself (or others).
Those items are weighing you down. They’ve got to go. You know this. You’re ready to act.
The hard part?
Actually… taking action.
It is not always easy to change your life — especially when you are a big-hearted, generous, caring person — because every change you make inevitably impacts other people, too. (And sometimes? They’re not stoked about it.)
It takes some thoughtfulness and artistry to make changes, big or small, without disappointing people who rely on you or behaving disrespectfully (“flaking out”).
If you want to figure out how to cleanse your calendar, gracefully, while minimizing the negative impact on other people…
Here is my advice:
– Give notice. Once you have identified what needs to go / get removed / stop happening in your life, give other people (friends, clients, lovers) as much advance notice as you possibly can before making a change that might impact them. The more advance notice you can give people about changes on the horizon, the better. This is common courtesy.
If you run your own business or work as a freelancer, for example, you might say:
“I’m making some changes to the way I do business. These changes will go into effect three months from today. I wanted to give you plenty of advance notice so that we can both roll into this new chapter gracefully. Here’s the new plan…”
– Keep it simple. When you reach out to people to explain that certain things are going to change, communicate simply and clearly. Resist the temptation to provide “the whole back story” or “all the details” on why you are changing your lifestyle / schedule, especially if you have a tendency to ramble when you feel excited and emotional. Don’t suck up people’s time. Keep it direct and matter of fact. (If they are curious or want more info, they will ask!)
Try something like this:
“I am making [describe changes] because I’ve realized that I need to start prioritizing my health in a serious, committed way. To do that, I need to re-structure a few other parts of my life. That’s why this is happening. Thank you for understanding.”
– Be helpful. Whenever possible, offer useful resources to people why rely on you (especially clients and customers) so that you are not leaving them stranded, high and dry, or scrambling to fill your shoes.
“I want to make sure that you are secure and cared for throughout this transition. If you find that you need [describe need], I highly recommend the following people / resources…”
Communicating to others? Not always easy.
Convincing yourself to stay on track? Even tougher.
Even after you’ve made a big effort to cleanse your calender, it can be surprisingly easy to backslide into old habits — like overcommiting, overextending yourself, or saying “yes” to things for the wrong reasons. (#FOMO, anyone?)
My best advice is to be ridiculous about your goals.
“Being ridiculous” means going above and beyond to ensure that you DO NOT FORGET what is important to you.
Get a tattoo. Wear a talisman. Paint a reminder in five foot tall letters on your bedroom wall. Pay a life coach (or a broke college student) to text and remind you, daily. Whatever it takes.
When there’s something you want, badly, you’ve got to do more than just “write it down” or “think about it.”
You’ve got to make that goal part of your environment… part of your surroundings… so epic and obvious and IN YOUR FACE that you can’t… not… do it.
“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” –Socrates
Socrates had it right.
Being “busy” may provide a temporary hit of fulfillment, but when your life is choked up with commitments that don’t feel meaningful or energizing, that’s a pretty barren existence.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to evolve into the person you want to be when you are so busy and burdened that you can barely breathe.
Clear the space you crave.
It might require some uncomfortable work in the short term — but long term?
This is a choice you will never regret.