Living in your own time

In the course of figuring out what my gifts are and what I was really put on this earth to do, I did some analysis. And from that analysis I determined four principles. I’d like to tell you about them.

My principles were born out of what I have discovered over the last 3 years, living here on the hill, out of the everyday hustle and bustle. They were fed by everything I had done in my life up to that point, all the corporate shenanigans, and all I have learned since then about myself and how I want to live.

When I stopped working and came here I naturally started to slow down. I became more aware of my body’s needs — when to sleep, when to exercise, when to eat, when to speed up, when to slow down. With no external timetable of getting up for work, sitting in an office all day then going home for dinner and bed, I could really get into feeling when my body demanded food, exercise, recharge and rest. And I started to notice how the things that I did affected me — whether they made me happy or sad, fulfilled or frustrated, energised or depleted, fearful or empowered.

Then I got poorly. Nothing special, just a bout of flu that laid me up in bed for a week or so and forced me to put everything down. Everything. My work, my play, my worries, my fears and my attitudes. And when I recovered, I examined what I had put down, and decided that I didn’t particularly want to pick it all back up again. The thought of some of it made me want to get back into bed and put the covers over my head. So I set myself some criteria and asked some questions about each thing that I had been carrying:

  • Does it energise me or drain me?
  • Is it light or heavy to hold?
  • Does the completion of it make me feel satisfied or just relieved that it is finished?
  • Does it take more effort to start it than to complete it?
  • What need is being met by the task and is there another way to meet that need?

Do you get the drift? I looked at what my needs were, and then rebuilt my life accordingly. The tasks that I liked doing, energised and satisfied me I picked back up with relish and attacked them with the joy of a small boy feeding a hungry duck (thanks to Marshall Rosenberg — Non-Violent Communication).

With the tasks that didn’t meet the criteria, I asked myself how else I could satisfy the need that those tasks represented? For example:

  • If the job I was doing brought me money but not satisfaction, I looked at what did satisfy me and asked myself how I could make money doing that
  • If I was stressing about meeting external timescales because of the rhythm in which I was now living, I looked at how I could take control of the timescale and do things in my own time
  • If I felt that the energy expended on a task was greater than the benefit gained from doing it I looked at another way of achieving the outcome.

As a result of this I stopped working for a company that should have been a great experience for me but wasn’t. Not their fault, not mine, it just wasn’t working. I stopped berating myself for not meeting the insane exercise targets I put on myself and started exercising for fun — because I wanted to. I had a lot of people in my kitchen and I spent a fair amount of time sitting round talking to them about their shizzle, what was in their way and what they could do next. And I realised that I really like doing that.

And the most important thing I did was start to trust. Trust that I was getting closer to my thing and although I was taking risks, financially and personally, the Universe would look after me and the closer I got to my thing the more I would be rewarded.

Then I started to play. I wrote a set of affirmations that led me towards happiness and satisfaction rather than moroseness and stress. I performed a number of small and personal rituals to throw away my institutionalised guilt and shame about not working and living like everyone else, and sought joy in small tasks like chopping wood, preparing a space for folk to come and enjoy themselves, making food, walking in the hills, and making music with my friends. I looked hard into myself to determine what would fulfil me and make me happy. And most importantly give my life meaning.

And finally it came. The apex of the triangle, the intersection of the Venn diagram. The things that made me feel joyful, fulfilled, energised, purposeful, meaningful and rewarded. And those things I turned into Slowcoaching.

So here are my four principles of Slowcoaching. They are cyclical and can be dropped into at any point and returned to at any time. I use them on a daily basis, on a momentary basis and when looking at bigger things like life purpose and meaning. When I got back from the UK a couple of weeks ago I used them to figure out what I had achieved and what I should do next. I’m doing everything I can to test them, refine them and live by them and so far its working.

When I forget myself, when I start comparing myself to others and finding myself wanting, when I think I can’t do it, when I don’t know what to do next, I tune back into my needs. Then I look at the time around me— what artificial pressures am I putting on myself to achieve? What action time works for me? I look at different ways of doing things and then I choose what I’m going to do. I follow the process and usually I figure out that what I am feeling is an external temporary thing that passes as soon as I remember my mission and my goals.

They are based on music because I find so much joy in music. It’s creative, it’s harmonious, it’s beautiful, it moves and flows, it speeds up and slows down, it marches to a beat. To me music is completely representative of life. So my principles use musical metaphor.

So here they are.

  1. Tune In
    Raise awareness to understand our needs, the needs of those around us, where are our strengths and weaknesses and what are our goals. This can include looking at balance, purpose and limiting beliefs. From this we can better understand ourselves and our relationship with others, and are more confident in our ability to communicate. We can also focus on our strengths and determining how to best use them.
  2. Set your tempo
    Setting our values, choosing our attitude, finding our motivation and determining what actions we take to achieve what we want. Setting our own timescale, rhythm and tempo to do it. This allows us to take responsibility and accountability for our actions, behaviours and outcomes.
  3. Free Play
    Observing our inner and outer worlds to be curious, learn and develop our skills. Finding what meets our and other’s needs and what doesn’t. This allows us to take a positive, open approach to life and work that gives us permission to deal with conflict, take risks, make mistakes, learn and grow. Making our way through the world using improvisation, innovation and curiosity as key tools to support us.
  4. Create your grand opus
    Define our own performance, achieve our goals and find fulfilment. Encouraging everyone to be the best they can be. Understand our gifts and how we can best give them to the world.

I hope you like them. I intend to write more about them and how I live them as time goes on. In my own time, of course.

At theslowcoaches we live to 4 principles of slowing down, tuning into what you need, determining your gifts that you choose to give to the world and living life to your own design. We are in service to others, helping them do the same.