How are you?
No, I mean it. How are you?
How long has it been since you stopped long enough to really consider how you are? I know this question has become an easy to toss out as a polite formality; a check mark so we can get on with where we’re headed, a pass to dive straight into the agenda for the meeting at hand, a permission slip to continue running toward our to-do list without even waiting for a response.
But, I’m genuinely asking: How are you, friend?
How is your life feeling to you?
If I asked you to go through different areas of your life and rank them from 1 to 10, 1 being depleted and in need of some serious re-evaluation, 10 being completely expanded and thriving, I wonder what those areas would look like. I actually want to invite you to take five minutes and really do this exercise for yourself: Take a piece of paper or open a word doc of some kind where you can list out areas of your life. The areas could be as expansive as you’d like, but some categories to start could look like: interpersonal relationships, physical health, career, finances, mental health, recreation, time-management, and work-place relationships. Next to each category give yourself a score from 1 to 10. Personally, I don’t really believe that 10’s exist for me as I believe there are always ways that I could grow, but to each their own!
If you’re feeling taxed and tired in your life, I totally understand that taking an inventory like the one above can feel like the very last thing that you’re interested in taking on. I get it. Brendon Burchard, an incredible author and coach, created something called The High Performance Planner where he has a spot for you to do a similar exercise. The year he released it, I was so pumped to put it on my Christmas list, but by the time I received it, my life had grown so heavy that I didn’t want to put my numbers down in ink. It wasn’t that I was afraid of anyone seeing the scores that I would give, it was that putting them in writing felt like I would really have to own how much I was hurting. I’d been in a toxic long-term relationship, hunkered down for years in a low-paying job that I’d promised would only be temporary, and I was ultimately hiding from just how much pain I was in. I wish I could tell you that I pulled that planner out and did what I’m asking you to do and everything shifted for me, but I didn’t. I wasn’t ready to. So if that’s the place you’re in, I get that, too. But I want to encourage you from a healed and happier place, that getting specific around these concepts does and will help you really check in on your life and your heart. Bringing awareness to the state of how things are really does empower you to choose how you’d like for them to go.
If you did the exercise (or you’re planning to and you have a hunch) that several of your scores are going to be lower than you’d like, I would encourage you to pick one area of focus for the next thirty days. If you’re not sure which one to pick, I would choose the one that is weighing on you the most, the one that is zapping or uppercutting your energy regularly because if you can move the needle forward in that area, you’ll have all the more energy to address some other things that you’d like to improve.
If you feel like you’re scared to know the numbers because you’re not sure how to bring them up or to change them, let me support you with a few ideas.
If your score in the health category is low, what’s one habit you’d like to cultivate over the next thirty days that perhaps you’ve been putting off? Focusing on one thing at a time that you can measure and step toward is a great place to start. If you’re feeling like you’d like to increase your general activity, a great investment here is a smart watch or an app for your phone that can help you track steps or health metrics. Being able to see physical numbers and track some tangible goals (like a specific amount of steps per day) helps keep you accountable and also helps you see how you’re improving or staying consistent.
Let’s say that your interpersonal relationships score is low. Maybe that’s because you’re focusing a lot on your work and you feel that you don’t have enough energy to be present with the people you love. Take a look at your calendar and intentionally plan some time in the next week or two to be present and do something nice or special for that/those relationship(s). As Emily Williams likes to say, “If it’s not scheduled, it’s not real.” It might feel a little silly to put something not work/productivity related on a calendar, but setting that time aside and elevating it to a place of priority will help empower you to guard that time and frame it with deep intentionality.
Perhaps your score is feeling low in the area of finances. Maybe it’s time to bring in the support of a specialist or grab a book to help educate yourself around a concept that you’re feeling incompetent around. There might also be a friend who you admire that you feel like is further along or more competent in that area, ask to take them to lunch or set up a time to chat and just be honest about where you are and pick their brain about how they’ve progressed in what you’re looking to grow in or change.
Maybe your mental health score is feeling pretty dismal and you don’t feel comfortable talking to a therapist about what’s going on. There are actually ALL kinds of therapies that don’t require talking. Take a look at EMDR, music therapy, art therapy, dance/movement therapy, or light therapy. There are plenty of other options for support in the mental health field that you can open yourself up to if you’re willing to do a little research on what’s available to you.
If it feels intimidating to let other people into the conversation with you, whether that’s a close friend or someone you’re considering hiring, I think that we can all probably relate. In the past, I also felt discouraged about being honest that I didn’t know the exact way forward or that I needed some insight or tools to navigate a concept that felt foregin to me, I guess for me I felt embarrassed. There was a belief that I’d created as a little girl (I was the oldest child and by nature very independent) that it was my job to take care of myself and that asking for help or support directly meant that I wasn’t carrying my weight. I realized at some point that if I didn’t start asking or looking to learn from people who had what I wanted or knew what I didn’t, that I would always be right where I was, and quite frankly I didn’t want to stay there. I also started to really think about the times that I asked for support and how the other person leaning in with me actually usually enjoyed lending their own wisdom in the mix because they wanted to be helpful and allow me to grow and succeed in the ways that I was longing to. I mean how good does it feel when we are using our natural gifts or resources to serve or support the people we encounter in our life? Helping someone jump a car in the parking lot, making a meal for a new mother, opening the door for a stranger who has their hands full; every time we’re leaning in to help another rise we get a little endorphin boost. So, really if you think about it, asking for help is a gift to the person or specialist that you’re engaging with.
Speaking of gifts, bringing awareness to how you really are, isn’t only a gift to your heart and your mind, it’s a gift to the people in your life who you are regularly interacting with, and ultimately to the world. As we improve and grow into expanded, fully-expressed people, we leave a ripple of positive influence that gradually brings the world up with us.
So, how are you? How will you be as you intentionally craft the life you’re living from the inside out? How good are you willing for your life to get?
With delicious anticipation…