It’s starting to feel like fall… a season that I am both excited for and the teensiest bit apprehensive about. The morning walks I take with my mom have turned cooler, to where I now need a jacket, and I’m writing inside from my favorite chair instead of on the front porch. My friends’ kids are headed back to school, and fall kick-off meetings are scheduled for all of our clients. I’m excited for apple picking, and cozy sweaters, and pumpkin everything (well, almost everything – I never quite got into the pumpkin spice latte craze).
As I look ahead to the fall, what makes me apprehensive is the busy, high-speed nature of the season. Between the start of the school year, 2020 arriving in 4 months, and the holidays just around the corner, it feels like it’s a sprint to the finish line. Coming off the summer season, and a personal focus on embracing every moment, it’s hard to imagine that all up-ended by the hectic pace of fall. Which is why, more than most any other time of the year, this is a great season to re-evaluate priorities and plan for the fall by building your life around what matters most.
“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Planning for the fall, and in this case your schedule, your kids’ extracurricular activities, your work travel, your family time, your holiday hosting, and everything else, can feel overwhelming to fit it all in. And before we know it, things that don’t matter as much to us seem to take over our lives. I have a regular strategy that I use in building my life around what matters most, and while it doesn’t make it a piece of cake – especially as someone trying to juggle it all – it does help me stay aligned. And to me, alignment and harmony are more important, and more feasible, than balance. (Check out the “It’s not about balance, it’s about harmony” blog post for more on that.)
As for putting the building blocks together of what matters most:
- Start with identifying what matters most. Write a list. Dictate a voice memo to yourself. Have a conversation with a close friend or loved one. One way or another, get what’s important to you out of your head and into some other format. Start with a brain dump of all the things that matter the most to you. It might be quality family time. Or supporting your kids as they pursue a new passion. Or taking your health more seriously and exercising and eating better. Or hitting it out of the park with that work project.
- Make your list more manageable. That full list of what matters most is going to be inspiring, and possibly a little daunting. You might be wondering how you can possibly do it all. As most of us have learned time and time again, you can’t actually do it all, at least not all of the time. So you have to prioritize. Take that list of what’s important to you and rank it… if you could only focus on 1 thing for this next season, what would it be? If you’re an over-achiever, maybe that’s 1 thing per category (self, family, work). I consider myself an over-achiever, but I still need to pick just 1 or 2 top things in order to best guarantee my success.
- Know your non-negotiables. Once you have your top priorities, then come up with non-negotiables that are associated with them… but make these non-negotiables flexible enough that it gives you room to succeed. For example, if quality time with the family is most important, maybe your non-negotiable is 2 sit-down family dinners with EVERYONE per week. This might mean skipping a little league practice, or making sure you’re home from work on time, or saying no to a friend who really wants you to go to that concert or networking activity, but 2 times per week gives you flexibility to figure out what works best in a given week. If your priority is exercising more, maybe your non-negotiable is 30 minutes of physical activity each day… but this gives you room for flexibility. If you can’t make it to the gym, perhaps you go on a walk outside, or if you’re traveling you use the stationary bike in the hotel gym, or if you’re home with the kids you do an all-family dance party. Set yourself up for success!
- Lastly, share with other people what matters most to you, and what your non-negotiables are. We often are shy or passive about what we want, especially as women who are always taking care of others, but it’s a key to success to be able to share with others. The people in our lives who care about us will also care about what is important to us, and they’ll be excited and supportive of the benefits that come from accomplishing those goals. One of my dearest friends started asking me to take walks with her, instead of meeting up for a glass of wine, because she was prioritizing physical activity each day and knowing what her priority was made it an easy yes for me (even on those days when I did want a glass of wine instead). Mornings are my time for creative work, which my team knows, and as a result they help me to not schedule meetings before 10am so I can prioritize that creative space. And when it’s been a hard week and things didn’t go as planned, it’s often those closest to us that help us get things back on track.
So what is most important to you as we head in to this fall season? What are you prioritizing? Send me a note through firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook, or Instagram and let me know what’s on your list… I’d love to check in with you later this month, 1-on-1, and see how it’s going for you and be an extra voice of encouragement to keep it up!With Optimism,
Elizabeth & the Davine Team