The Stress Overhaul - An Update!

14 November, 2018

Are you busy for the sake of being busy?  How purposeful and deliberate are you about how you spend your precious time?  Do you wish sometimes life was calmer, simpler, more magical?  Come along with me on my stress overhaul journey and learn how to do what I've been doing.

Last month, I wrote a blog about how I’d received some health tests back and although it’s nothing serious and is reversible, it really wasn’t where I wanted to be at this time and it forced me to take a hard look at what was in my life that was causing me unnecessary stress, and commit to and develop a plan to do a complete stress overhaul in my life.  

So, the last five weeks have been interesting, and I thought I’d bring you along on my journey too.

I know that right now, probably half of you are wishing that I was more perfect than this in order to fully look up to me as a successful coach.  And the other half of you are simply glad that I’m not perfect and have the intention to learn from my journey.  I spent many years at the beginning of my coaching career back believing I had to be the model of a perfect life for my clients, and 12 years on, I no longer adhere to that belief - at all.  In fact I believe the opposite is true: the more I show up as an authentic human being in my career, the better it goes and the more it helps others, which after all is the real purpose of my work.  I’ve come to believe that the difference between a congruous coach and an incongruous one, is not whether they ‘have everything sorted’ - because this is an illusion and doesn’t exist -  but in their ability to manage the normal challenges of life by using all of the skills and resources they’ve developed and have access to as a result of their profession, on themselves.  An incongruous coach is one who inevitably experiences life's challenges but doesn’t apply their skills and resources to their own life.  I certainly know who I’d rather be learning from.

There’s always more evolution ahead of us.

Anyway, that said, let’s get into the nitty gritty.

As a result of those blood tests and writing that blog in October, here were the goals I set myself for my personal stress overhaul project:
  1. Get clear on ALL of my stressors, both internal and external, by doing a detailed inventory
  2. Change things in my life to eliminate as many of these as I possibly can
  3. Eliminate the tendency to be living with constant a sense of pressure & urgency
  4. To be productive with ease (not with pressure & urgency)
  5. To assess the tendency to try to ‘be all things to all people’ and make much more deliberate choices about how I spend my time
  6. To train my nervous system to develop different internal responses to the external stressors that remain
  7. Eat and exercise for health, happiness and overall wellbeing (not for weight loss)
  8. Get more spiritual - be in the present moment much more often; practice mindfulness; focus on gratitude and setting intentions; revisit my knowledge and learn more about the law of attraction and use it deliberately; establish a regular meditation practice
  9. Assess my business goals so they are realistic, manageable and fun to achieve
The underlying intent of ALL of this is that I want to live my life more deliberately and on purpose.  Time is our most expendable AND our most precious commodity, and what I choose to spend time on needs to be important to me and reflect my fundamental values in life.  I also want to BE FULLY PRESENT in my existence.  I want to look back on my memories and know that I was FULLY THERE when they were happening, not just ‘there while thinking about my to-do list’ kind of there.  In other words I don’t want to be busy for the sake of being busy.  I want my life to be simple, and effective.  I want my feet to touch the ground, every day.  I want life to be on my terms. I want to be occupied by only the most important things.  And that those things bring me deep connection, purpose and joy.

Whew - so, not at all ambitious!

So five weeks on, how am I really doing?

I’ve made A LOT of changes and have had a lot of shifts.  And there are a lot of things going very, very well.  And there are things that are still a challenge.  Here are the highlights:
  • I've implemented new organisational strategies to manage my household and my business.  The key one being shifting from making endless to-do lists to actually scheduling time to complete specific tasks. If it doesn’t get scheduled, it doesn’t get done.  I’m also much more realistic about what’s achievable in a day or a week.  This includes scheduling time for food preparation and meetings with my husband where we can plan and prioritise things together.  This has made such a difference to the smooth running of our house and has meant that we’re able to keep on top of things again.  It’s also allowed me to actually progress some personal projects that I’ve been on my to-do lists for years!
  • I’ve changed gyms so I can do the kind of exercise that suits my body best and include much more yoga - both hot power vinyassa-yoga (intense) and yin (restorative).  I’ve also changed my work schedule so I can exercise four mornings during the week, and one time over the weekend.
  • I’ve engaged in physical healing and personal coaching sessions to move past those specific issues, as listed above.
  • I’ve developed a daily practice of setting my intentions in the morning before I start my day, and writing down my gratitudes at night before I go to sleep.
  • I’ve re-set my business values and goals and planned out all of my activities and tasks for the rest of the year.  This has resulted in me getting rid of about two-thirds of the stuff I thought I ‘had to’ do!  I’m now only focussed on what meets my values and my passions.  This has been a HUGE shift.  As a result of this re-prioritising I’ve actually finished writing a book, which is something I’ve wanted to do for like, forever.  Along with my beautiful client coaching work, I have now completed everything I need to for the year apart from one upcoming workshop which I’m very excited about.  I’ve shifted self-imposed deadlines on other projects, which has taken a significant amount of pressure off me, and given me the time I need to do them properly.
  • I’ve changed my behaviour around technology and my phone usage.  I’ve always been good at switching off my phone at night, but now I wait until I’ve done my intentions for the day before I switch on my phone or computer in the morning.  I’m also only doing emails as particular times during the day and prioritising other projects first.  Look out for an upcoming article that I’ll post on my Facebook page about what happened when I tried to keep my phone off for the whole day - it was very interesting!
  • I’ve made brutal decisions about what I say ‘yes’ to.  If my energy is flailing or it doesn’t fit in with what’s most important for that time, then I’ve said ‘no’.  This has meant not attending events with good friends that I’d normally attend, not socialising with people that I’d normally be expected to see because I need a day nesting at home for example.  These decisions aren’t easy, and i’m lucky to have understanding and supportive friends!  They are deliberate and purposeful decisions though, which is what I’m aiming for.
  • I’m not meditating every single day, but I am doing something most days.  I’m also half way through the Headspace founder Andy Puddicombe’s audiobook The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness which I thoroughly recommend, and I’m hopeful this will help me establish something more consistent.
  • I’ve called out a family member’s unacceptable behaviour in a different way, which has changed the conversation around it and may actually - hopefully - change the behaviour.  If it doesn’t then at least more people in the family are aware of it and supportive of my need for boundaries, which will make things easier for me going forward.
In summary, in my short five weeks’ commitment to this I’ve learned that although it’s not possible to eliminate stress from a life entirely, it is entirely possible - with a clear commitment to prioritise your wellbeing in this way - to make some serious headway in living a life with more purpose and ease.  I’ve had moments of my body going into a stress response which I haven’t been able to avoid at the time, yet even that has helped me make even more commitments to myself and set even more boundaries. I can honestly tell you that I’m overall significantly less stressed, and I’m experiencing much more contentment, wellbeing, satisfaction, fulfilment and the ‘magic atmosphere’ of being focused in the present moment.  I've also achieved SO MUCH MORE than I was achieving! 

I’m still committed to this journey and I need to ‘reset’ myself often - so I will be bringing you more updates!  Head on over to my Facebook page at Charlotte Hinksman to follow more from me.

With love, Charlotte.

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