Tyler’s days had become a marathon of meeting expectations, mile after metaphorical mile.
A 35-year-old financial advisor who’d recently left a large firm and hung up his own shingle, Tyler woke each morning to the expectation to find clients and serve them well. As the married father of two young daughters–one of whom had autism–there were the expectations to provide for his family and “give quality time” to each of the three people he loved more than anyone else in the world.
And beyond these expectations, there were the demands that Tyler placed upon himself. Stay healthy through a good diet and lots of exercise. Nurture a few friendships through regular coffees, lunches, or phone calls. Celebrate successes, and don’t be afraid to let yourself have a little fun.
More than anything, Tyler wanted to feel “balanced’ and “whole,” living a life of his choosing that still served others well, rather than constantly reacting and running based on what everyone else was expecting but neglecting his own needs.
It’s Up to You
“No one will give you ‘permission’ to live in the manner that’s optimal for you,” said Emily, a 28-year-old barista at the cafe in the office complex where Tyler leased a small office. Tyler nodded as Emily handed him a cappuccino on a saucer. “It’s up to you to get clear about what ‘optimal’ looks like, start ‘practicing’ its related habits, and begin to develop new muscle memory until it’s truly become your life.”
“It seems like you’re doing that with your music, when you’re not here working,” Tyler said. “You’re going out and getting gigs, and not waiting for some talent scout to ‘discover’ you.”
“That’s right,” Emily said, smiling. “And I hope that you and your wife get a babysitter sometime soon and come see me play. You’ve been promising that for a while.”
“Message received, loud and clear,” Tyler said, and texted a reminder to himself to schedule that date night.
Stress, difficulties with work, health, finances, jobs, relationships–one or more of those dynamics will always be around to one degree or another. Tyler knew this. The perfect conditions will never arise, because there is no “perfection.” There is only the less exciting reality of iteration, or making quick adjustments based on what you’re learning. And getting a little better each day. Tyler knew all of this as well, but realized he wasn’t doing much about it without an extra “push” from someone like Emily.
“I start most early mornings with journaling, meditation, and a few minutes of yoga, followed by some song writing and a technology-free walk,” Emily said as she handed Tyler his receipt to sign. “All before work begins. These are the things I want to start each day with, because I enjoy them and recognize the cumulative joy, focus, and energy I derive from them.”
Emily added that it would be easy to sacrifice these small but important early morning behaviors at what she termed “the altar of urgency.”
“Because,” she said, “there’s always something ‘urgent’ to do. There’s always more you could produce, always problems you can devote all your waking hours toward solving.”
“It’s just a matter of the life you want, and the life you choose. And how closely those two align.”
Next Steps to Consider
In my professional work, I help individuals and organizations enhance personal and business relationships and results through:
What do I mean by “mindful?”
Mindfulness is my core organizing and unifying practice for every moment and dimension of life–including self-care, family, friends, community, and professional work. In a nutshell, mindfulness is the practice of becoming more fully aware of and attentive to, without judgement, what’s taking place within and around you. Some of the most common mindfulness exercises include pausing before reacting or responding, sitting meditation, breath meditation, mindful eating, mindful walking, reciting mantras, visualization, and doing a body scan–but there are many more.
Mindfulness can be your game-changer. There’s more research (such as this Forbes article) on the benefits of mindfulness than you or I can ever hope to read, but here’s the highlights of why mindfulness is worth doing:
- Reduced stress
- Increased focus and concentration
- Increased productivity
- Healthier relationships
- Increased happiness and inner peace
I bring extensive cross-industry experience, education, and credentials to these services I offer. To inquire about my background and services, sign up for a free exploratory coaching session, or subscribe to free monthly content, please contact me here. You can also visit my LinkedIn profile and check out this post on my career journey.
Thanks and take good care,