Me time. It sounds so good, and I know it's important, but how do we do it? As a purpose-driven entrepreneur running a business and a family, I've found it challenging to carve out that time. I bet you can relate. Unplugging can come with a backpack of guilt for taking time away from running and growing my business. Over time, I've discovered that my business won't disappear if I devote some time to myself. Now with my daughters off at college, I have the luxury of taking that time for me first thing in the morning. My most important discovery? Taking me time can vastly improve my business and my life outside of work too.
Sure, you've heard before that you should journal, meditate and practice gratitude, but here's a different spin on all three activities. I hope sharing my practices will help lead you to big improvements in your life as well.
- Journal every day. Each year, I like to journal every day. I might have time to write one word, one sentence, a list of things I am grateful for or pages on a challenge I am sorting out. At the end of the year, I read my entire journal (for that year) from beginning to end. Rereading your entire year in one sitting is a remarkable process of self-discovery. I see patterns and rhythms and how I resolve things. Perspective helps me see where I get stuck. Guilt gets lifted for things that don't seem as important after a little bit of time has passed. I get reminded of what brings me joy and what I worry about too much. As I read my entries, my goals for the next year jump out at me. This is a powerful practice.
- Try a morning meditation. My meditation practice helps me sit with the unknown and be OK with it, and that's big for me. I know meditating isn't easy for parents with young kiddos, but if you can schedule a little morning time to meditate (even just five minutes) it can be life-changing. Consistency is the most important aspect of practicing gratitude, so take whatever time you have whether that's five minutes or 30. To be unplugged without the noise of everyday life for a few minutes is blissful. When your world is a river of digital and sensory overload, your mind and body need the quiet to reconnect with your thoughts and emotions. When I return to work, I have better ideas, more energy and fully-formed thoughts. I have found that you don't have to read a book about meditation or become an expert to experience its benefits. There isn't a wrong way to meditate. Just relax, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Make sure you feel comfortable and once your breathing is slow and steady visualize a beautiful ball of light surrounding your body. Focus your full attention on the brilliance and beauty of this light. With each breath you take, try to more fully release tension in your body. When you are done, allow yourself some transition time.
- Keep a gratitude board. I start off the year with an empty bulletin board and throughout the year, I post things I am grateful for on my board. (Like a growing scrapbook bulletin board.) It includes letters and cards from people, things I've read that resonate with me, any expression of love from my family and friends (artwork, poems), conference badges that list me as a speaker, magazines that quote me -- all sorts of tangible representations of all things good in my life. At the end of each year, I take everything down from my bulletin board and put it in a folder called Gratitude 2015 or Gratitude 2016. When I review my year with my gratitude folder, that makes me feel even more grateful. For every year, I have a record of the things I am grateful for, and tangible reminders of the abundance and blessings in my life. Instead of looking at things I don't have (like traditional vision boards) I look at the abundance of good things I do have.
These three practices have helped me live more mindfully and with more meaning. I can be immersed in running my business, but then transition and be fully present with my family. Taking time just for you might sound like a luxury or something you do on vacation, but taking time for these three practices can add meaning and fulfillment to all of your days.
© 2016 Fauzia Burke. All Rights Reserved.
Fauzia Burke is the founder and president of FSB Associates, an online publicity and marketing firm specializing in creating awareness for books and authors. She's the author of Online Marketing for Busy Authors (Berrett-Koehler, Spring 2016). Fauzia has promoted the books of authors such as Alan Alda, Arianna Huffington, Deepak Chopra, Melissa Francis, S. C. Gwynne, Mika Brzezinski, Charles Spencer and many more. A nationally recognized speaker and online branding expert, Fauzia writes regularly for the Huffington Post. For online publicity, book publishing and social media advice, follow Fauzia on Twitter (@FauziaBurke) and Facebook (Fauzia S. Burke). For more information on the book, please visit: www.FauziaBurke.com.