As we move into the end of the first week of January, many of you are probably working on some New Year’s goals and/or intentions. For those of you who have set intentions or goals, I’m curious if you made space for them - in your calendar and in your life - before committing to them?
And for those of you who aren’t working on any goals or intentions, I wonder what might be different for you if you were able to make space for them?
How often have you undertaken a goal and just tried to fit it in or (squeeze it in) to your already overflowing schedule? I’ve experienced it…and I’m sure you have too. It works for a while and then when life happens (it always does) or life just catches up with you (it always will), what’s the first thing to go?
You guessed it. The goal or intention.
I’ve seen it time and time again. Clients have great intentions and set some inspiring SMART goals. You get a keen start on them and even make some progress. And then by the 6-week or 12-week marks (if you’ve even made it that far) you just can’t seem to find the time or energy for them. You’re feeling frustrated that you aren’t seeing progress and stressed about not able to fit your good intentions and habits in.
You blame yourself or the circumstances and kick the goal to curb.
You’re not alone.
There are a number of reasons that new habits don’t stick and goals don’t come to fruition. I’ll save most of them for another blog. Today I am focusing on why creating space for vitality is essential for setting and achieving wellness goals.
Before we get to why it’s essential for achieving success with your goals, let’s start with what vitality actually is and what it means to create space for it.
What is Vitality?
Vitality is defined as the state of being strong and active - having energy, zip and sparkle, a zest for life. I wrote more about what it is and how to create and sustain it here.
To help you better understand it, think of it like fitness times a hundred.
While physical fitness encompasses mostly the physical body, vitality encompasses the whole person - body, mind and spirit. It includes physical, mental and emotional wellbeing AND sense of meaning and purpose.
One of the first definitions of fitness that really resonated with me came from my first year Uni Physical Education prof. He defined it as the ability to carry out your everyday tasks, participate in fun and recreational pursuits and still have enough capacity to be able to attend to emergencies as they arise.
Vitality is about managing your physical, mental and emotional energy to do the things you need to do and still be able to bring your best energy to the people, the work and the passion projects that bring you meaning and purpose.
So basically, vitality is a whole person, holistic, type of energy and sparkle. ✨
What Does Creating Space Really Mean?
Creating space is about placing limits or boundaries around the things most important to you. And that starts with protecting your time, energy and commitments or priorities. It's also about building in breathing room.
When you create boundaries or constraints around your time, energy and commitments, it creates a protective container around WHO you want to be and HOW you want to show up in the world.
Creating space allows enough time and energy to take care of your commitments and goals and still gives you breathing space to rest, recover, and recharge so you can show up as the best version of yourself and respond to the unexpected.
So how do you create space with your time, energy and commitments?
How to Create Space with Your Time:
We all have the same number of hours and minutes in a day, yet some people seem to be able to do so much more than others. Imagining that those people are much like you and I and aren’t able to afford personal assistants, chefs, housekeepers and shoppers, how do they do it?
They maximize the time they DO have and claim their time before someone else does.
Maximizing time starts with saying ‘no’ to the things that don’t move your goals forward.
Ask yourself, ‘what are the things that are taking up time in your day that don't move your goals forward?
My guess is, and what my clients tell me, is that distractions and interruptions are the biggest time wasters of their day.
In Stephen Covey’s urgent/important matrix, (you can download my version here) he states that ideally you want to be spending the majority of your time on the non-urgent/important tasks - the high impact tasks that help you move towards achieving your most important goals. These are things that should be scheduled in advance and take up most of your calendar.
If you’re spending most of your time in the non-important/urgent quadrant (things like interruptions, some email/messages), you may need to learn to say ‘no’ to others and/or delegate more.
If you’re spending a significant amount of time in the non-urgent/non-important quadrant (things like mindless scrolling, Netflix binges), you may need to learn to say no to yourself more! Now don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for some of these distractions. It’s just important to put constraints on them.
Claim your time:
Claiming your time starts with creating boundaries and protecting them…fiercely and kindly. If you don’t know ahead of time what your boundaries are around your time, others will determine them for you. This means it’s important to schedule your commitments - your most important tasks and people.
For instance, if you don’t schedule ‘family time’ on your schedule on Saturdays and you have a deadline coming up on a project, it’s easy to let it spill over into your Saturday if it’s not spoken for. It’s also much easier to say no to a request for your time from someone outside of your family if you have it scheduled on your calendar.
Energy management starts with knowing your unique energy rhythms. Our energy naturally fluctuates throughout the day. Knowing when you’re at your best energy (and when you’re not) and what drains it or recharges it is essential for optimizing productivity and wellbeing. Knowing the things that impact your energy helps you coordinate your activities with the appropriate energy zone.
Shirzad Chamine puts a spin on the urgent/important matrix and divides tasks into high/low impact and battery charging/draining. Ideally you want to spend about 80% of your time in the high impact/battery charging quadrant.
So the questions to ask yourself are:
What are your high impact activities/habits to help you achieve your most important goals?
How can you make those activities battery charging?
Knowing WHO and WHAT your most important priorities or commitments are is the first step to managing priorities. We touched on priority management using Stephen Covey’s urgent/important matrix above (you can download my version here). In the book ‘Power of Focus’, Jack Canfield, et al encourage you to delay/schedule the important/non-urgent tasks, do the important/urgent tasks, delegate the urgent/non-important tasks and dump the non-important/non-urgent tasks to separate fake-urgent tasks from highly-important ones and regain time control.
The better you get at managing your priorities and spending more time in the non-urgent/important and high-impact/battery charging quadrant the more traction you will get on your goals and the more breathing space you’ll free up.
When your priorities are aligned with your values they serve as anchors to secure your boundaries around your time and energy. Your commitments and priorities will also serve to empower you to protect those boundaries.
Why Creating Space for Vitality is Essential for Achieving Your Wellness Goals
When you align your time, energy and priorities with your purpose - and your goals are connected with your purpose - it creates a protected space to take action towards your goals, consistently. And it’s the consistent, daily action that helps us accomplish our wildest dreams.
Perhaps the most important anchor for creating space for vitality is purpose. Purpose is that calling or greater sense of meaning or connection in life. Some people refer to it as a burning ‘yes’. When you have that burning ‘yes’ or clear picture of your greater purpose and you align your time, energy and priorities with it, it serves as an anchor to secure your boundaries to create space for vitality. And when you’re grounded in that purpose, you are empowered to protect those boundaries and kindly say 'no' to the things that are outside of that space.
It may not come easily at first. That comes with practice and remembering the bigger purpose of that space.
Confidence will follow.
Want some help and support to protect your time, energy and priorities? Join us for the How to Say No mini course.
📆 January 9-13 📆 . Learn More + Sign Up Here.
Want more in-depth help though strategies and group coaching to manage your time, energy and priorities so you can Create Space for Vitality?
📆 January 23 - February 19 📆