At the end of each month, I take some time to reflect on the month gone by: did I achieve my goals for the month? Why or why not? What worked? What didn’t? What do I want to continue and what do I want to let go? I’ve found that it works best if I start these reflections a few days before the end of the month. This allows my mind to “simmer” on these questions for a bit such that – once the new month starts – I am ready to set my goals and intentions right away.
My goal for January 2021 was a “nutrition reset.” I tend to let my discipline with my nutrition loosen towards the end of the year. It typically starts with Halloween and then for the Winter Holiday months of November and December, I loosen up my regimen and allow myself to fully enjoy my favorite treats of the season. For me, relaxing a bit and enjoying seasonal treats is a big part of why I love the Holidays. I am a fitness nerd, though and I know that “cheat days” are never free. Making the choice to freely enjoy the cookies and candy of the season and and mostly likely will impact my weight. Weight is much more driven by what you eat than how much you exercise and I’ve seen that fact play itself out in my life time and time again. I’ve found that January is a great time to clean up my diet, reset things and get myself back on a nutrition routine that supports my health. I like to say “it’s easier to lose one pound than ten” and so when I stepped on the scale on January 1st and saw that I was only a pound or so over my goal weight, I knew that a nutrition reset would be a relatively easy goal for me to ease into the new year with an early win. It’s common to say “diets don’t work” and while that is true as a lifestyle rule, I have found that some form of “dieting” is useful for a nutrition “reset” to (re)establish eating habits that support your health and goals. Taking a month to really watch my diet and get things back in order is a good way for me to hit the reset button on my nutrition. And so that’s what I did in January: a 31 day health reset. By the end of the month I was down 4lbs and back under my goal weight. If you’d like to know what I did in January to lose a few pounds, comment on this post and I’ll blog about it next time. This post is about hitting that reset button and regaining a sense of balance in my life.
Each month, I do a reflection on what’s working in my life and what isn’t – what I want to stop doing and what I want to continue. Fundamentally, I take stock of my life to decide where I want to focus for the next 30 days or so. This month, the answer was clear: I want a greater sense of balance in my life. One side effect of working from home is that working time tends to bleed out of its normal “9-to-5” boundaries and into the early mornings, evenings and weekends. While I know this is a common issue for self-employed people, this experience was new for me in 2020. The commute to and from the office always provided a nice separation between work and personal life for me. Sure, I occasionally worked long hours in the office or brought the occasional task home but I did what I could to be present for my family & friends at home and for my colleagues in the office. Those walls of separation started to erode when I began working from home almost a year ago now. So, my goal for February is to focus on regaining that sense of balance. My goal for January was a health reset and I like to think of my goal for February as a “balance reset.”
Finding “balance” is much harder to define than setting a weight or workout goal for the month. What does it even mean to try and achieve a balance “reset?” For me, it means not feeling pulled or pushed too far in any one direction across the various areas of my life. I know when my life feels balanced: my stress levels are controlled and I feel grounded and capable of taking on the challenges that come my way. When my life feels out of balance, I find myself feeling anxious and stressed, unsure of myself and my choices.
The Practice of Balance
Imagine yourself standing on one foot. Or, even better, pause your reading here for a few moments and actually take a moment to stand on one foot. If you turn your attention inward and pay attention to your body as you attempt to stabilize on one foot, you will find that the outward appearance of “balance” actually involves a TON of tiny micro-adjustments required to maintain stability. Balance in life is like that (you can put your foot down now). It starts with setting your intention – like deciding to stand on one foot – and then paying attention to when and how you find yourself swaying too far in this direction or that. I find that regular journaling helps me make those little micro-adjustments in my daily life. For February, I created a simple journal prompt to help me check in and see if I feel balanced. The prompt is a simple list of this vs that questions:
1. Did I feel connected today or isolated?
2. Did I feel energized or drained during the day?
3. Was my work mostly tactical today or strategic?
4. Was today a high intensity day or a recovery day?
My goal for February is to use this journal prompt at the end of each day. I find that the mere practice of simply checking-in is often enough for me to make the micro-adjustments needed to maintain a sense of balance in my life.
Do you ever notice a need to reset and re-center?
How do you maintain balance in your life?
Until next time: keep shining, you never know who may be noticing your light!