FOUR ELEMENTS COACHING

Moving You From Surviving to
THRIVING

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Years ago, I saw this quote somewhere in my sister’s house:

“So Many Books, So Little Time.”

I had an immediate reaction to this statement. It filled me with sadness and anxiety. Always an avid reader, I’ve had a list of books I want to read since I was like 4 years old! I learned to read at an early age and standing in the stacks at the library, perusing book titles, was one of my favorite things to do. It still is.

I’m going to be very transparent with you. We all have our quirks, right? So I’m going to be honest about one of mine.

When I am feeling really anxious or like things are out of control, I begin to hoard books. I do this in a couple of ways: I go to the library and check out two or three; I look at my own library of books and grab a few off the shelf, stacking them on my nightstand; or I pick up my tablet and start shopping for e-books and download a few.

Some may see chaos. I see normal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used to get annoyed with myself when I did this. I would stare at the stack of books that would likely go unread and think, “Why did you do this, crazy girl? You have so many books to read already!”

I’m not sure I yet have the full answer to why this happens to me. But lately I have wondered if it’s a response to the feeling I had, and continue to have, when I see that statement.

“So many books, so little time.”

When I feel pressured or anxious about time, work or some other sort of issue that makes me feel like I have no control, the one thing I CAN control is my ability to read. I can also control what books TO read. I can almost always find TIME to read, even if it’s just for ten minutes before falling asleep. Ten minutes of reading time a day isn’t ideal, but it’s enough.

Recently, I finished an e-book I had borrowed from the library and removed it from my Kindle shelf. I looked at what remained in my library and thought about all the purchased e-books I hadn’t read yet. My TBR, if you will – To Be Read. I have this shelf on my Goodreads account too. There are 418 books on that shelf. If I listed my TBR for a lifetime, it would range in the tens of thousands, I am sure. Maybe even six digits.

So why don’t I feel anxious about that? I honestly don’t know. I just don’t. Every once in awhile, I get a little annoyed with myself for the number of books I’ve started and haven’t finished. I’ll return them to the library or ask myself where I am feeling out of control. But I quickly recognize there are also other reasons I have a stack of books on my nightstand. For example, I’m reading Under Surge, Under Siege, The Odyssey of Bay St. Louis and Katrina written by Ellis Anderson. (She’s a friend of mine, I’m delighted to say!) It’s a beautifully written book, but it’s about Hurricane Katrina, which is still a bit traumatic to me, so I read it in small doses. A few others on my shelf are good, but for some reason difficult to sail through quickly. Some are meant to read a bit, process and then read a bit more, like Emotional Yoga: How the Body Can Heal the Mind. I review the currently reading list now and again and make sure I still want to finish that book, or I give myself permission to let it go and never finish.

I couldn’t do that when I was younger, by the way. I used to feel it was my moral obligation to finish every book I started. These days, I just think they aren’t all going to be winners for me, in that moment. I may go back eventually or I may just give myself permission to take it off the currently reading shelf.

Picking up a stack of books and deciding whether to read them now or later is something I can control. It’s something I love to do. When everything is feeling off kilter, reading is an activity that is at the center of my being. It always has been and always will be. There are so many books and so much time for me to read the ones I want to read.

So here’s why I know now that I collect books when I am stressed:

  • Believing I will be able to read everything I want to read makes me feel like the chaotic feelings or events around me will eventually subside.
  • Finding a new book I’ve never heard of  brings me into the awareness and  possibility of a new story.
  • Re-reading a favorite book allows me to experience it in a new way.
  • Having a variety of books near me to read at any given moment is one thing that calms me when nothing else can.
  • Even ten minutes of reading a day makes me happy.
  • Reading brings me to my Center.

While picking up five books might seem like creating chaos to some people, to me it feels strangely calming and natural.  All these years later, after reading that horrifying quote, I know that there will always be books around me. Everywhere I need them to be.

I recently created a TBR Jar so I can choose randomly when I don’t know what I want to read. This jar only contains a few of the books on my lists or in my bookshelves that I hope to read.

After all, so many TBR jars, so many book titles to fill them.

My TBR Jar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But what it meant for me was getting my head in the game. Aligning my mind and my business goals with what I want to do, my vision, my why, my business philosophy. My values. Everything should be synced and pulling me forward.

My original hope of using these strategies to help clients was definitely realized. I use it when discussing team member roles, customer service, staying connected to mission, and creating a culture of empowered and respectful employees. These aren’t difficult lessons or strategies to implement – you can begin to put these ideas into practice while you are reading the book. And if you are working with a coach, it’s a way to marry the coaching and accountability piece with the tips and tactics you’re learning. I definitely introduce it to clients and invite them to bring the lessons into the coaching conversations.

When you’re self-employed, you’re responsible for all your bookkeeping, accounting and tax documentation. If you’re like me and it’s your least favorite thing to do, it often doesn’t get done.

I am NOT great at handling an email once. I’m working on it, but I will still open an email, read it, decide I need to take action on it and then leave it in my inbox for me to handle later. Later turns into tomorrow or someday and I end up with…too many emails, clogging up my inbox, that are dated and no longer relevant.

I do meditate – probably more frequently than a lot of people do. I just have this sense that I would be better off if I meditated every single day. And as much as I love meditation, it does feel difficult to keep up a daily practice. I try to remember how I created dedicated time for my morning pages ritual all those years ago. What makes me automatically get up, make the coffee, and begin journaling every single day of my life, but stops me from moving into a few moments of meditation right after? How can this be so difficult for me when it seems so simple?

Don’t beat yourself up over what self care looks like. Just make it look like whatever you can manage today. Even if that’s just taking a shower.

Morning pages are definitely a habit for me now. But they take a good bit of effort, when I really think about it. I have to get up early sometimes to catch a flight or to drive to a client appointment. On vacation, I may want to get up early and have breakfast in whatever city we find ourselves visiting. But for some reason, morning pages are the way I operate now and they can’t be skipped. So I adjust my waking time to make sure that it happens – three pages, with my coffee, in the same seat every day.

Those of you who follow me regularly know that a strategic plan is one of my 4 Elements for Success! I think it’s pretty difficult to move forward if you don’t have a plan or roadmap for what you will do to accomplish your goals. It’s helps to keep you focused on what’s most important and eliminates your tendency to follow every bright, shiny object that will max out your time or capacity.