Busy being busy needs counterbalance

“How was your weekend?” I asked as Beth walked in for our coaching session.

“I got a lot done and had a great weekend,” she answered.

“It sounds productive,” I said. “Tell me about it.”

She ran through her list of accomplishments. “I cleaned the house, did the laundry, cooked three meals, helped with homework, ran errands and changed all of the beds.”

“Wow ... all in two days?” I asked. “That sounds like a week’s worth of work! Did you get to relax?”

“I wish. I had too much to do,” Beth said.

“Sounds like you have some beliefs that may be driving your behavior,” I said, and she nodded.

Beth and I had talked previously about this dynamic.

“What beliefs are underlying your need to be productive and not take time to relax?” I asked

“How about the belief that ‘my worth is measured by how productive I am,’ ” Beth said.

“Where did this belief come from?” I asked.

“When I grew up, taking time for yourself was considered lazy,” Beth said. “Life was to be spent doing, and just being was a sign of laziness. My mom watched television, but only if she was ironing or folding clothes. I can’t recall her sitting and relaxing.”

“Do you ever sit and relax?” I asked.

“I feel guilty and unproductive when I do,” Beth said. “My mind immediately makes a To Do list and I start to feel anxious.”

“What belief may be driving your behavior here?” I asked.

“Every moment should be used for something productive.”

“How do you feel about that statement?” I asked.

“A large part of me thinks it’s true,” Beth said. “When I see someone eating alone, I wonder, ‘Why don’t they meet with someone, read the newspaper or do something more important than just eating?’ “

“It sounds like some activities qualify as worthwhile and others don’t,” I suggested.

“Yes, but I’m not sure how I deem what’s worthy and what’s not,” Beth said.

“Is watching the sunset worthy?” I asked.

“It depends on if you are also mowing the lawn or balancing your checkbook,” Beth smiled. “I’m not THAT bad, but it’s easy for me to feel like I’m not doing enough.”

“What is ‘doing enough?’ ” I asked.

“Doing enough means I am at full capacity. For example, if I’m making dinner, then I’m also returning a phone call,” Beth said.

“So if you are killing two birds with one stone, then it’s worthy.” I said.

Beth nodded.

“When was the last time you did only one thing, and how did it feel?” I asked.

She thought for a minute. “I can’t think of a time,” she confessed.

“What if you planned three activities this week where you only did one thing at a time,” I suggested, “then write down how you felt doing just one thing?”

“It will make me crazy,” Beth said. “But I’ll try it because I’m curious to see if I can.”

“I’ll be interested to hear how this goes,” I said.

Coaching challenge: If you multi-task, slow down and try doing only one activity at a time. Then describe how it felt to be fully engaged in that activity.

When beliefs pop up about how you should be spending your time, write them down and see if they are true for you. By noticing and possibly updating your beliefs, you can change the behaviors that make up your world.

*

Sheri Fisher is a Life Coach who lives in Grand Junction. The situations and characters in her column are fictional to maintain client confidentiality. For information, go to: http://www.coachwithsheri.com.


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