In previous years I’ve made New Year Resolutions and never, ever stuck to them. This year, I decided to not waste my time even giving them any thought. Instead I’ve decided to declutter my life a little for 2018.
The reasons for decluttering or a spring clean of my life are many but include:
(a) wanting to reduce stress and reducing self-inflicted pressure of doing too much or wanting to do something worthwhile or memorable
(b) wanting to reclaim time for myself and my family especially at weekends where time (and sleep) is precious.
I have historically taken on too many things and wanted to please as many people as possible and left little time for myself.
Ultimately, I feel happy when I’m doing things that:
– make me feel proud
– help others
– create some kind of memorable outcome or legacy – basically I’d like to be remembered for making a positive difference for others no matter how small.
An obvious example was my involvement as a parkrun volunteer where I’d spent hundreds of hours of my own personal time creating events and then volunteering at them. The rewards of this personally other than feeling some worth were often negligible although I knew I was creating or contributing towards something I was very proud of at the time. I stopped volunteering at parkrun in any capacity when it became something I felt was a chore and gave little pleasure for me even though my involvement had had a positive impact on the lives of 10s, 100s or maybe 1000s each week.
For almost 2 years, I’ve been delivering 1 hour coaching sessions to Lordshillers on a Saturday morning from 7:30am. I’ve really enjoyed my investment in time in both preparing for and delivering the sessions and seeing the 3-12 regular participants rewarded with PBs, less injuries etc etc. These have been my rewards but these have been at a personal cost in terms of the time involved, the self-inflicted pressure to delivery quality sessions each week that were suitably different, enticing and interesting to keep participants coming week after week.
At times, this lead to a degree of anxiety, insomnia and other negative impacts such as regularly self-questioning whether the sessions were offering any value. Was the session suitably different? Suitably challenging? Could I have done something better? Did participants feel that getting up early before a parkrun was worth it?
Although the sessions were at a time when they had a negligible actual impact on my family, the impact of a 6:30am alarm week in, week out hasn’t been so negligible especially as my alarm is set for that time from Monday to Friday too. As well as the early start, coaching is mentally tiring and, in some cases, physically challenging too.
Towards the end of last year (and having spent a week of the festive season recovering from flu, having no energy and being unable to get out of bed), I started to feel the personal rewards of delivering these free-to-attend sessions was no longer justifying the time invested or the impact of delivering them. Although it may not have felt like it at the time (largely due to the positive interaction with the group which had a positive impact on my confidence and mental health), the sessions had started to feel like a chore.
However, being a kind-hearted individual, it was a very difficult decision to make as I simply didn’t want to let the group of regulars (all of whom are friends) down by stopping the sessions. But, for my own sake, and because the sessions had started for feel like a chore instead of a pleasure, that’s the decision I had to make.
That decision was made a little easier when I came across an article, http://www.health.com/stress/how-to-stop-feeling-like-shit, and some of the habits described within it sounded a little too familiar. Although aimed more at women (as made clear in the referenced book), it’s worth a read regardless of gender.
Without my involvement in parkrun, the Lordshill committee and race directing, all of which have taken a significant amount of my own time during periods of time in the last 5 or more years, I’m left with two sustainable and thoroughly enjoyable voluntary commitments to Lordshillers both of which I’m very passionate about:
(a) the Lordshill Mile Series
(b) the Tuesday evening S&C sessions
I can’t see a time when I won’t be involved in these as they are two things I’m really rather proud of and neither feel like, or have ever felt like, a chore. Seeing so many Lordshillers enjoying both events, getting positive feedback from participants as well as the personal satisfaction of delivering these ‘events’ means that I will continue to deliver them indefinitely.
Here’s my advice about prioritising you over others:
(a) try to make life as simple as you can
(b) don’t feel as if you have to please others to be happy yourself
(c) value your own time at least as much as those around you
(d) assess whether you invest time in tasks or pursuits that feel like a chore
(e) try to make a small difference to the life of others but not at any detriment to your own goals, family, health etc
(f) don’t inflict pressure on yourself to do something if it has any form of negative impact on you