Why Solitude is Important

Have you ever just craved some quiet alone time?

Little girl with a book

I have had two clients last week who brought up the issue of needing some more space and time to themselves. The hectic pace of their lives and the sheer volume of interactions with people in their own home were becoming an irritation instead of a joy. This brought up the discussion of the effect on not getting quiet time as an adult. This I understand. I was the kid who climbed up into a tree to read- so no one would bother or interrupt me. My mom understood this need for quiet time- because she pretended not to notice where I was- even with all three of the family dogs sat patiently under the tree waiting for me. Now I understand the term introvert and how well that fits me.  According to Susan Cain one our of every two or three people out of the population are considered introverts.  Cain has a TED talk and a book-Quiet- on The Power of Introverts. Yet how many quiet spaces are there in your work environment? Most of our work spaces are designed for interaction and extroverts. In a busy household with different schedules and tasks that need doing- where is the quiet conversation? If solitude is part of what matters to you- then finding the time to be quiet is important to your ability to cope with the rest of the day.

What are the benefits of solitude? Solitude allows you to unwind and rest your brain. The absence of stimulation allows your brain to slow down and stop processing information. Solitude gives you time and space to consider your own needs and choices- rather than just going along with the group. It is easier to focus and concentrate on a specific issue or project with no outside distractions. You think more deeply about a topic when you are alone. I consider solitude the antidote to too much outside stimulation. I avoid big box stores partly because of the noise, lights and general level of activity there. Am I a hermit? No. I like social settings with friends where you can talk and interact. I am not as comfortable in a loud, crowded environment where you have to talk over loud music. Solitude for me is a choice that allows be to replenish and recharge my brain, my energy and my emotional levels.  If a quiet space fits your needs- then make choices that give you that space to recharge.

  • Schedule time alone
  • Walk outside at lunch for a change of environment
  • Swimming- or exercise outside can provide solitude
  • Get up early
  • Meditate
  • Pause before you start on weekend projects- enjoy your morning coffee outside

I have found the simple solution for me is to drink one cup of tea alone in my office without doing anything else. Just sitting and doing only one thing is enough to provide a calm  start to my day. This week – be aware of where you can find moments of solitude and enjoy them for what that quiet moment gives back to you.

If you have trouble finding a calm space- contact me for more ideas.

A responsible brain gets to rest

What being a perfectionist and very responsible person has done for my productivity.

I like to get things done- and feel like I am moving forward with projects and goals- who Doesn’t?

What I have been experimenting with is using an online tool called Todolist- I was afraid it would make things too complicated- instead- I am not searching for pieces of paper where I captured my thoughts last night on what needs to happen this week or today. Like anything else it only works well if you set up things in sequence- for any program- here are my best practice tips

  • Break down every project into individual steps
  • List out every step as an action to be taken
  • Give yourself enough time for each step
  • Not all projects have to go on your schedule- some just sit there until you are ready  to start
  • Only schedule things that you actually have time to do each day-
  • this one is the toughest one for me to learn- I get excited about working on something and want to get it all done right now.

A good reality check for me is to write down how much time I will allot to each task or project

Remember to allow time to exercise, get outside and take brain breaks. This keeps me feeling good about life and not chained to the to do list. So far I am liking my new tool and enjoying the satisfaction of having my stuff all together in one place. That reduces the stress of feeling like you might miss something or forget something,

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That for me is the key – ending each day feeling good about what I got done. I like the feeling of having things sorted and set up for another day. That makes it easy for me to let go of work and move into play. This is really important when you work from home- having a mental process that closes your office door for the day and lets you be refreshed and recharged while still in your home.

Find out what works for you- how do you switch gears? What makes it easy for you to close your work brain down for the day?

Personal Accountability

One of the greatest myths around is that we are entitled to a meaningful, happy life filled with a successful career, supportive relationships and financial security. There is a great disappointment when we expect all of this to just happen to us. Is there any chance of living a fully integrated satisfying life in this age of chaos, uncertainty and ongoing change?
Yes, if you are willing to be 100% accountable for your actions, responses and outcomes.
No, if you blame outcomes on outside events, other people and wait for the good things to just happen to you.
No, if you keep blaming yourself for poor outcomes without making any change in your behavior or attitude.
There is a simple formula to explain accountability. Outcomes are a result of your actions and your attitudes.
Are you willing to change and take action to change your outcomes?
Start by practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is simply being fully present in your life from moment to moment. It sounds easy, not so easy with a busy life and hectic schedule. I challenge you this week to slow down and pay attention to how you feel, what your choices are and how your actions effect your outcomes. Start small in making changes that fit your desires. Think big for getting what you want out of life.

Ideas -listen, learn and grow

If you want your life to change- consider ideas plus inspiration. That concept comes from Jim Rohn. He was a motivation speaker who used stories to create ideas and inspire other people to take action. So where do good ideas come from? First you have to listen. Listen to yourself, listen to others and be open to new information. Good ideas are everywhere if you are looking and listening. Slow down to give yourself time to think. My favorite time of day is early morning before any activity – just sitting with a cup of tea and thinking about what is planned for the day. Set your goal to learn one thing every day. Challenge your brain every day. Absorb what you learn and than apply it to your unique situation. What you focus on grows. I want to keep my brain active and growing- what about you?

Step outside of your comfort zone

Once in a while it is a good thing to be uncomfortable. I am the first to admit I like to plan ahead and do not like surprises. I am the type of person who orders the same sandwich at the local deli and likes to know the expected outcomes before I start a project.
So why do I suggest that stepping out into the great unknown is good for you? First- there is no learning if you stay within your comfortable areas of expertise. Nothing new can be learned if you do the same things over and over again. How do you know you have a fear of heights unless you get to a cliff trail and look down. How do you know if you could be a leader unless you are willing to step up into that role. When you stretch your self into new territory you will learn something about yourself that will give you new confidence. There is a surge of confidence when you attempt something difficult and new. Especially if you consider failure just a method of learning. So consider where you could step out of your comfort zone and learn something new this year. Let it be OK to be the most uncoordinated dancer in a class or the person who asks the most questions in a group discussion.

Just Hang On

Have you ever had a week or a series of weeks where your schedule was so packed full that you had to keep moving between events without thinking or pausing to wonder how it got this way?
I am in the second week of such a schedule with 4 days left of jam packed commitments. I have stopped long enough to figure out who did this to me? Me. Why did I think it was a good idea to have only one day off a week for two weeks in a row and then schedule that day with activities that had to be done. How did this happen? You might understand, another clinic was shorthanded so I offered to pick up a few extra days. Who hasn’t offered to fill in when needed to help out another person who needed to be off? So how do you survive a schedule that gives little or no time for rest or recovery? How do you get through it? I had time to prepare. I cooked ahead and froze healthy meals. I still make time for exercise even if it is a 15 minute walk. I hold myself to shutting down by brain and computer by a set time at night. I find I need some decompression time before going to sleep, so my brain can wind down from a busy schedule. The good things that come from a busy schedule:
• I get absolutely clear on what is important or critical to get done
• It becomes easy to say no to anything extra
• I have asked for help more often
• I hold my sleep time as essential
• I resolve to not allow this packed schedule to happen again
What have you done to hang on when your schedule gets crazy? Do you recognize when you have too much going? How much time to you have to just to nothing? If you have something scheduled for every minute of the day- it might be time to step back and readjust. Just hang on- is a good motto for survival weeks. I prefer to have a daily motto reflects a healthy balance of work, fun and play. What can you do to hold your schedule to reflect what you need in life?
Try blocking out times for you. Amazing things happen when you hold open space for your own life to unfold.

How do you spend your time?

Here are a few ideas to help you manage your “stuff” and find a sense of satisfaction from taking actions that move you in a direction of your choice instead of being stuck in overwhelm.

What is your Highest Value Activity?
What are the things that you do better than anyone else? Make a list of all the things you really enjoy doing and where you are really good at getting results. Consider the activities or areas that other people ask you for help in. Focus in on the things that you get the most satisfaction from doing.
I know that you have heard that common saying that 20% of your time produces 80% of your results. The key is stopping long enough to really define and understand what actions contribute to your best results, professional development and personal satisfaction.
Determine the key things that you do that contribute the most to your desired outcomes.
When you spent more time in this area you would see an increase in results. When you focus in on one thing each day- you are less likely to get stuck in overwhelm at the end of the day. So many small things add up that they can grab your attention and you are busy all day- yet end the day feeling like you did not accomplish anything. If that sounds familiar: try asking yourself these two questions everyday: What one thing do I need to accomplish today? What is the best use of my time right now?

Pay Attention

I work with some people, who have memory loss. What I have learned is that activity has to have a function to make sense to my clients. Doing something without a reason or not being able to connect that activity to what they want to do is a flop. So walking outside is enjoyable, tossing a ball is a natural reaction, while lifting leg weights does not have a strong connection to daily needs. What if I took that lesson into my own life? How much time do I spend doing things that make sense and bring purpose to my life? How much of my time is busy time, filling up the space with activity without understanding what it does for me? Do I stop to ask – how does this activity fit into my life’s purpose? A curious exercise would be to start paying attention to the value of how I spend my time. I challenge you to do the same. If you placed a higher value on your time: what things would you do more of and what things would you stop doing? Try making a list- it is amazing the difference when you take ideas out of your head and put them in front of you on paper. Then pay attention to where your time goes and how you spend it. Why am I more careful with my money and so careless with my time?

Are you Sleeping?

How much sleep do you need? I know that 8 hours works the best for me. Besides the time asleep, there is the quality of sleep. When I have settled the day and have put aside my mental projects for the night, I sleep through the night and wake up refreshed.  If I have too many unfinished projects or small undone things hanging around in my brain, they tend to float up at 2 am and start making a lot of noise in my head. This means I start losing my sleep time because my brain is keeping my body from what it needs for full power energy. So here are a few ideas for getting rid of pesky middle of the night brain drains.

My strategies for getting a good night sleep.

Plan on going to sleep 8 hours before the alarm goes off.

Stop doing any project or mental brainstorming two hours before bedtime.

I think of my projects as steps. Every day I only need to complete one or more step of a project, so my brain can relax about the things that are scheduled for another time.

Leave yourself notes or a text for something you need to see the next day

Spend a few minutes at the end of each day recognizing what I have accomplished for the day

Create a routine before going to sleep that your body recognizes as the slowing down and getting ready to end the day.

I like to do a few stretches, set out projects for the next day and practice gratitude for all the things in the day that I am grateful for

This year I have found a meditation tape that I am listening to as I lay in bed. It is only 10 minutes long. What I love is hearing the sound of someone telling me it is time to put the day to rest. My favorite phrase is,” Where ever you are, whatever you are doing, remember there is nothing you need to do and no place you need to go right now. Just that concept gives my body and brain the signal to let the day go and settle into a restful calm place of relaxation.

So what are your strategies that support a full night’s sleep?

Do you need a structure that helps you get full rest?  That is a lot of what I do as a coach, help people identify actions that will support what they know they need to do for health and full energy.

Gwen is a life coach that helps people find balance in health, work and play

Contact her at gpspiral@gmail.com for information about the next healthy habits for busy people class

Trust Yourself First

Trust yourself first

Did you know that fully 85% of you happiness will be determined by your relationships with other people? This information comes from Brian Tracy who is an expert in motivation and self development programs.

How well that you get along with others and how long they get along with you will determine your level of happiness in life. Your social relationships at work and home   both require quality time of giving people full attention to thrive and grow your relationships.

Trust is the number one important principle of any relationship.

To build trust, you must keep your word. You must do what you say you will do. Your actions need to be reliable and dependable for yourself and for the people around you.

This seems like a simple concept- just do what you say you will do every time.

What I find is that I have to start with trusting myself and my own intuition. Paying attention to matching my actions with my intuition is important for me to trust myself.

What does it take to build trust with myself?

First I need to take time and think before I act or make decisions. Only in a quiet space can I listen to my inner feelings. When I am under pressure I tend to agree to take on a task or responsibility that I really do not want or need to do. Then I am stuck keeping my word and being unhappy about it.

The second thing I have learned is to say “no” or” let me think about it”- before agreeing to take on a responsibility.  Keeping agreements is part of building trust.

So what if we made an agreement with ourselves first. My agreement is that I will give myself thinking time and space before agreeing to take on any commitment for other people.

This one agreement has done more for keeping me out of overwhelm than anything else I have done.

What agreements do you need for yourself? How will they help you manage life more easily?

Build trust with yourself first and see how that affects your relationships with others.

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