When In Doubt, Simplify

energy high performance planning presence purpose Jan 08, 2019

Life can get complicated quickly and completely catch us off guard, no matter how well we think we have things planned out. We get laid off at work with no warning, a relationship ends, a health crisis pops up, a loved one passes away. In moments like these, we struggle with two things. One, we wrestle with making sense of the event. And two, we struggle to know what to do next.

I want to focus on the second issue here. I do think it’s valuable to look at the events as they happen, process our emotions, and not sweep things under the rug. But we have much more control over how we are going to respond to life’s events, regardless of whether we ever fully understand their origins.

As we enter a new year, there’s a  feeling of excitement as we look forward to a clean slate and start making plans for all the things we want to accomplish. As I was wrapping up 2018 and completing  my plans for the first quarter of 2019, I had two things happen to me within the span of 12 hours that changed my outlook on the year, and literally, my physical capabilities.

I was driving alone early in the morning and a deer ran out in front of me. I reacted by swerving to miss the deer, ran off the road, wiped out a sign and slammed the right side of the car into a low retaining wall. I was able to walk away w/out a scratch, but the car was totaled as both airbags on the passenger side had deployed, the rear window shattered, and the entire left side was damaged. This incident was complicated by the fact that it wasn’t my car.

About 12 hours later, I was taking a friend to the airport and was answering their questions about the accident. My words started to not make sense, I started sweating profusely, and my vision started refracting. I pulled over in front of the airport terminal as my passenger called 911, thinking I was having a stroke. Before EMS arrived, I went into a grand mal seizure, now called a tonic-clonic seizure where my body went rigid and I lost consciousness. We think it lasted no more than 2 minutes, but the next thing I was aware of was being in the back of an ambulance, speeding down the interstate. I had never had a seizure before, but we don’t know if the two incidents are related. I spent a little over 24 hours in the hospital and made it home for New Year’s Eve, for which I was in bed by 8pm. No midnight toast or kisses for me!

New Year’s Day was spent thinking about how the year was going to be different than I’d hoped. One result of the seizure is I can’t drive for six months. Another impact is the meds they started me on add to my fatigue.

I had big plans for the year, wanting to focus on fully launching my high performance coaching practice, helping people work with their fatigue, and continuing to teach productivity online.

I started going through my goals and plans, realizing I could still work towards them, but it was going to take me longer than I initially expected. I was unsure what I should work on first, what I should postpone or cancel, and what new things I might need to spend my time on instead.

It was overwhelming.

So I decided to simplify, to go back to first principles and focus on the tasks and projects which were going to help me through my current struggles and allow me to work towards my goals. I may not be able to do everything I had originally planned, but I would work on the most important things, the essential items in order to get the job done.

I’ve been pretty healthy, but I put the projects and goals related to my health and energy even higher on the list, making sure that if anything got done, I was going to be as healthy as I could be.

The extra fatigue from my new meds brought into sharp focus my desire to help others use their energy efficiently and effectively. It’s a perfect opportunity to practice what I teach on managing energy, generating more energy, and focusing on what matters most.

I still have a long list of goals and projects I hope to get to during 2019. But if I don’t, I’ll be okay. I am grateful I was able to walk away from a car accident, and am focusing on my health so I can have the energy to serve others. I was able to simplify my essentials to my health, my relationships, and my contributions to others. Anything that doesn’t serve those first principles will have to wait, if I get to them at all.

If there’s an area of your life where you’re struggling with knowing what to do, please, take out your journal and write out what your first principles are, those things that absolutely must be true in your life for you to feel congruent, present, and excited about life.

Then, simplify. Take out anything that doesn’t serve those higher principles or goals. Give yourself permission to let go of projects and goals that no longer serve you, that no longer contribute to the best version of yourself. If you have to renegotiate with someone, then please do that.

Clear your calendar and add back the blocks of time that keep you energized and focused, and then add the blocks to work on those projects and goals associated with your first principles.

If you’ve been carrying along the same goal for years now to write a book, learn a language, complete a triathlon, or whatever, give yourself permission to let it go if that’s what best serves you at this stage in your life. I do encourage you to dream big and go after inspiring goals, but only if they are truly your goals and serve you at this time.

Life will always throw us curves. It’s how we respond that counts. When we get overwhelmed, it’s an opportunity to simplify our lives, our commitments, and to give ourselves grace for the journey.

Here’s to a wonderful 2019 as we grow and stay focused on the things that matter most.