Do you find yourself starting 10 different projects at once, and have plans for 10 more? Maybe you joined the local Toastmasters group, and are also a member of the Small Business Networking group, and then you volunteered for that extra project at work, AND there’s that triathlon you signed up for.. Many of my clients find themselves dealing with complete and utter overwhelm, just treading water and trying to stay afloat in the sea of projects, and never actually making any progress towards the deckchair on the beach of their dreams.
I used to struggle with this too, when I was first starting as a coach. I had my day job to pay the bills, and I was in the middle of completing my fitness instructor certification after hours. At the same time I was teaching German, was researching something I want to invent, as well as keeping about a million other things in my head that I wanted to do. So imagine my surprise when my business growth stalled! How strange, there weren’t any more clients coming my way…
Of course it’s not strange at all. It’s pretty obvious for anyone on the outside: I had my fingers in too many pies! Imagine a little girl surrounded by pies, using a different finger to try each one because she didn’t know which one to choose. By the time she tries them all, she is full, and surrounded by a pile of half-eaten pies. That was me, and I’m pretty sure that’s you sometimes too.
So what to do? Time to step back, take a deep breath, and… Prioritise! It’s not rocket science, you probably already know you need to do this, but how to know which pies to ditch, which to put in the fridge for later, and which to stuff your face with right now?
This is where your values come in. Your values are the things that are most important in your life right now. You know, things like family, friends, fun… or maybe charity, fame or adventure. The easiest way to figure out which things you value, is by taking a look at your current projects. So for me, the business pie was all about helping others and gaining freedom, the certificate was about education and security (it’s good to have something to fall back on) and the inventing pie was about fame. What do the pies in your life represent?
Whatever it is that you value in your life, you need to eliminate any project you’ve started that will take you away from that. So if training for the marathon is taking time away from your kids, and family is massively important to you, then the marathon’s gotta go. It’s tough, but there’s other ways to live healthily (another value) that can give you the best of both worlds. (By the way, if you need help with this, get in touch with me here, I’m also a health coach!)
Sometimes one value will come ahead of the other for a short time. So if your marathon is next month, you won’t mind missing out on a couple of get-togethers with friends in the lead up to race day. In my case I decided it was OK to let my business stall for a while, until I got my certificate out of the way. Not because I rank education any higher than helping others (they’re pretty even), but because I only had a couple of months left on the course, so I was comfortable putting my business pie in the fridge until the certificate was complete.
What about the those pies that just need to get thrown away? How do you spot those? Easy: how do they make you feel? If some fairy came along and turned your pie into a pumpkin and you no longer had to eat it, would you be relieved?
Or would you get really pissed off at the fairy for taking away one of the highlights of your week? Why couldn’t she have eliminated the need for the day job! (The day job has got to be a Vitamin D & Fish Oil pie, you eat it because it’s good for you, and nothing else!)
Living out of line with your values makes you unhappy and stressed. So does having more pies than you can possibly eat and not making any visible progress towards your dream life. So take a step back today and analyse your life – does your fridge need a clean-out?