Ask yourself the right questions and listen to your true inner voice if you want to gain balance in real life.
Six months ago, life brought a difficult challenge to my door. A serious health issue had put my family in the spot. As you can imagine the daily routine was hectic between hospitals, medical meetings with doctors while the demanding business projects kept unfolding as usual.
Had to deal with way too many balls in the air and I was feeling like a crazy joggler in a business suit. Then it hit me… I had to prioritize and clear my life from all the unnecessary clatter of obligations. That was the point where writing down the right questions helped me to clarify what needed to be done immediately and what could wait.
Ask the right questions and you will end up with the right answers. And opportunities. And people. And sometimes this can change your life!
How to recharge my energy?
For me, the number one step is a good night’s sleep and some kind of complete solitude from anything and anyone. In order to accomplish this, I let myself accept that in difficult times I need help.
No one is born to be a superhero. Making our mental and physical health a priority helps us to stay in good shape on so many levels. It is solely our responsibility to protect our brain and body from unnecessary causes of exhaustion.
How to ask for help?
If you really want to practice on how to let go of controlling everything and ask for help, you should better start with the little things.
For me, it was a leap of faith. Being in charge of almost everything both in my personal and business life, it was unimaginable to ask even for a helping hand just for getting the groceries back home. I gather all my nerve to spill out the four magic words: Can you help me? I did and to my surprise, many people offered to support me.
From groceries moved gradually to many other daily time-consuming tasks like paying the bills, taking the dog out, watering the plants, or at the end hiring a dedicated personal assistant for my business correspondence. The life-changing moment was when finally I gave up my nonsense notion that I could be the perfect nurse and hired professional nurses.
Learning to rely on other people wasn’t easy but accepting that we have certain limitations of what we can actually do during a day, was not a picnic for me. I was raised to believe that we women must prove that we can do everything without asking for help.
I still remember the first night I returned to my home and had a satisfying 8 hours sleep after weeks of sleep deprivation changed the way my mind was wired. Since that day, I never let myself reach the point of exhaustion before reaching out for help.
Are you sure that this is good for you?
You know what they say about habits: old habits die hard. And when we are tired and at the end of our rope we tend to return in what is familiar. My old habit that keeps killing me is ice cream. When things are bad, ice cream is the answer that pampers my restless mind & body.
Fortunately, the new habit of asking for help had shifted the pillars of attention to a more sensitive self-care approach. It had turned me into a compass of mindfulness throughout all aspects of life. Being actively conscious was a side effect of taking care of myself, not a goal, and definitely not aiming to gain a new kind of control.
So, being actively conscious regarding my eating habits for keeping my energy high was centered around one question: Are you sure that this is good for you? Do you remember the last time you ate that how sick made your stomach?
Slowly my eating habits changed effortlessly from what I used to eat to what I really needed. After two weeks, my energy levels rose and my body felt lighter. Ice cream became a stranger and soft drinks like coca-cola stopped appearing inside my refrigerator.
Now I know from personal experience that having nutritious meals that also provide a joyful experience of flavors, it helps my body to function properly. When we let our body to express naturally then we demonstrate how much we respect our body’s needs more than anything.
Nowadays, I never eat food that makes me feel tired or makes me sick. I never eat red meat or some fruits & vegetables that I can not digest. You see, sometimes healthy food is not healthy for everyone. Learn to respect your personal needs.
Do you want to be with this person?
How and with whom we spend our time are crucial to our personal development process. So the choices we make are the ones to blame if we are surrounded by energy vampires.
It comes to a point where you know that choosing wisely your closest friends is more important than making big money. Because money can easily be restored but the time spend in meaningless relationships can never be returned.
The people around me are familiar with my inability to do small talk. Why? Because I am not afraid to say that I dislike small talk as much I dislike meaningless social interactions with strangers. I have only a few and truly close friends.
The gift of time is not for waste. When I care for someone, I do care with all my heart. Saving my energy for my closest people, makes me feel richer and always ready to provide the best for them and for myself. So, spending time in meaningless events or meetings, just to fulfill my calendar, is not my cup of tea.
Why you are not moving? Are you dead?
One of my best friends lost both his legs in a car accident but he moves ten times more than me. One night we were watching a film and suddenly he said that the movie was boring and we could go for a walk instead to stretch our legs. An awkward silence sat in the room as the rest of us were exchanging these weird glances of OMG. Then he turned and said out loud: “Why you are not moving? Are you dead?”
And we did go for a long walk that turned out to be an amazing experience for all of us. We decided to schedule more long walks for our next gatherings. And we still meet and walk for 2 hours twice a week.
This question shook my head and turned me upside down. The feeling of calm after each walk transformed me into a daily walker. This soft exercise is the secret behind the blooming energy in my late forties. During winter months I spend 1–2 hours every single day walking by the seaside or in the city streets. Fortunately, it’s a happy coincidence that my residence is near the Saronic Gulf.
In summer, early morning swimming is a daily habit that keeps me in good shape. Although I have been an XL lady almost all my life, my physical condition has been excellent thanks to the daily exercise.
Do you really want to do this?
A major part of adulthood is absorbed by the harsh professional obligations and decisions that demand your full attention. When you start your career it is difficult to put some boundaries.
With time you learn to distinguish which decisions are worth taking and which are better to leave behind. Pay attention and stay sharp by asking yourself this question: Do you really want to do this?
Take it day by day, week by week, month by month… And if your answer is yes then keep walking in that direction but if your answer is no then change your direction. We are not trees, we can change our path or our mind or our life or even our personality.
In my case, I put quality over quantity. I prefer to have fewer projects that pay better than having more clients that pay less. Therefore my work is only a part of my life and not my entire life.
Believe me that I had a generous share of big changes in my life. I have turned my life upside down three times so far. Have changed business paths, moved to a new country 3 times, turned down “big” offerings for a dream plan, lost everything and built a new life from scratch, took a year off to travel and so many others that would need a lifetime to share.
Do you have a backup plan?
We make plans and life tends to go its own way. Usually not close to our original plan. Don’t complain, you are not a child anymore. Be ready for the unexpected.
For all these issues that tend to occur in the worst timing, I have backup plans that can support the members of my family in a time of need. Health issues, physical disasters, financial crises or even unemployment are part of life. Knowing that these unpleasant situations may come at any time, we must plan ahead and make room for the unexpected.
After all, life is what it is. Just happens. We control nearly nothing. Do you have a backup plan ? If you don’t plan ahead then difficult times can turn out to disasters.
Do you know what brings you joy?
Find what brings you joy and let it became part of your life. For me, books, music, painting, true friends, cats, swimming and traveling work like remedies for my soul.
To be honest the most valuable asset I use to dig pure joy out of the darkest corners is one simple word. The word “No”. It has helped me to save energy for better things and for a much better life. Learn to say NO to the things or to the people you don’t want in your life. And life will reward you with the best presents.
A brave NO is a disguised YES to a better life. – Areti Vassou