honor the calendar
I write about how to live to life you’ve always wanted. For mid-lifers this means sticking to an active lifestyle, eating and cooking healthy food, and staying organized with longer term goals so that your days are a reflection of time spent doing things that reflect those goals. In order to be consistent and sustainable, this lifestyle requires advanced planning and scheduling.
I don’t know anyone who can just ‘wing it’ day after day and still shop, cook, eat, workout, remember appointments, and make time for personal goals in a week – especially if you have kids & their schedules to accommodate, too. We live with easy access to social media distractions and endless rabbit holes that can easily and quickly overtake our best intentions. Our attention spans are at an all time low. But, if you want a life of intention and something bigger than evenings trolling Facebook then you’ll have to develop the habit of using your prefrontal cortex – the long-term planning, logical, and rational part of your brain – to regularly schedule in the tasks that need attention every single week. If you don’t the limbic part of your brain-the part that acts impulsively and according to present-time urges and pleasures-WILL take over and before you realize it you’ve binge watched 3 seasons of Game of Thrones and never left the house all weekend.
You’ll have to use some sort of planning system if you want this lifestyle to stick. I won’t say this isn’t tedious. Sitting down every week, compiling an intentional schedule, and writing it down is the only way to deliberately acres the pre-frontal cortex and override the limbic propensity to chase proverbial squirrels. Applying some dedication to planning and obeying your calendar WILL result in a more rewarding sense of satisfaction and sense of self-actualization than passively watching Game of Thrones can ever give you. Promise.
action step: get a planner
You’ll need to use some kind of planner system (electronic or physical) to keep all of the foundational working parts of your week accounted for. This frees up your brain from having to try to remember everything. The amount of energy your brain saves by not having to try to remember everything is huge. Using a planner is a foundational part of my Big Life program. Use an electronic or paper version depending on what serves you and the way you work best. But either way, don’t waste time waffling in a place of confusion about it. Decide, get your planner set up, and start using it right away.
tip: I use an Erin Condren LifePlanner along with my Apple Calendar that came installed with my iPhone. My Erin Condren planner is flexible enough to accommodate workouts, my eating plan, work and family commitments all in one place. Start plugging in your lifestyle commitments as soon as you get your planner, which will immediately give you a sense of control over your time, priorities, and ability to get things done. Using your planner will immediately move you toward making your big life a reality. Schedule your workouts for the week every Sunday, before anything else. After that, fill in appointments and work & family events and action steps related to long-term goals.
schedule a day and time to schedule
Before I got into the habit of using a planner consistently I would get the Sunday Blues. All day long my mind would turn to the week ahead – wondering what I needed to do, or anxiously inserting thoughts about when I’d get this or that done. It’s wasn’t so much a depressive feeling as a slightly anxious one. The worst! Which is why I now plan ahead every week on Sunday mornings. On my planner every Sunday you will see written in ‘weekly planning’ from 9-10 am. When I get my week planned out in detail on Sunday morning, then my brain and I can relax for the rest of the day knowing that everything I need to remember to do is safely recorded in the planner. I feel organized and peaceful and I can fully enjoy the second half of my weekend no more Sunday Blues.
tip: Choose whatever day and time works for you, but schedule a time schedule that will tend to always be available so that you can be consistent and build your habit until it becomes ingrained.
obey the calendar
You can calendar your week and it won’t amount to anything if you don’t simultaneously develop the skill of obeying the calendar. This means that you decide ahead of time to honor the commitments that you put into your calendar. Again – you can see here that you are tapping into the power of your pre-frontal cortex to make shit happen. When you begin my Big Life Program you’ll begin obeying the calendar with your workouts. Then you’ll add in regularly scheduled activities to optimize healthy eating – meal planning, meal prep, and shopping along with your existing day-to-day commitments. This builds confidence and the habit of calendaring your life. Eventually you’ll be adding in action steps that are part of your larger personal goals.
tip: Don’t sabotage your efforts by overwhelming your calendar. Love yourself enough to think proactively and logically just how much you can and are able to do before you write it your planner. On the flip side; also hold those commitments you’ve decided on ahead of time as sacred. Meet each obligation as if it was an appointment with the CEO of your company; which is true because you’re the CEO of you.
A lot of my clients balk at the calendaring habit. They complain that they feel too restricted; like their time isn’t their own anymore. If you honestly question the efficacy of the calendaring habit & the practice of honoring the calendar then go ahead and try implementing an active and healthy lifestyle along with your work and family commitments AND your long-term personal goals and assess how effective that is. My guess if that if you’re even reading this post, that hasn’t worked for you-so don’t kid yourself. Even if you could white-knuckle it through your week without using your planner, your brain will be so fried from trying to remember everything that you certainly won’t benefit from the peace of mind that using a planner can give you.
I get that this is work. However doing that work is exactly how you tap into the benefits that this practice can give you. Let me tell you a quick story to illustrate.
1,700 years ago a sage named Patanjali wrote a guidebook called the Yoga Sturas, which described eight steps for how to live a meaningful and purposeful life. This ancient wisdom directly addresses the benefits of a wide range of practices of discipline; called NIYAMA (the 2nd step). Practices of discipline are applied to the body, the food you eat, the mind, spirituality, and educating oneself. All of those practices require the application of TAPAS – a burning effort under all circumstances to achieve a definite goal in life to be successful. Tapas practices always include self-discipline, austerity, and purification- just like what I’m asking you to do here. Patanjali says, ‘a worthy aim makes life illuminated, pure, and divine. By utilizing tapas, the yogi develops strength in mind and body, and character…gains courage, wisdom, integrity, straightforwardness, and simplicity.’
The humble and tedious habit of using and obeying the calendar IS a modern-day practice of discipline, or NIYAMA. It isn’t hyperbole to claim that this humble discipline has the power to give you a more meaningful and purposeful life. Schedule it and then obey the calendar and it’s a s good as done! I urge you to apply TAPAS in obeying the calendar – think of burning up all desires which stand in thew way of the life you always wanted every time you are tempted to veer off your schedule. Your pre-frontal cortex and your planner are two powerful and modern-day tools that you have to practice NIYAMA with and which will move your life in the direction of your dreams.
Meeting your commitments to yourself will, over time, begin to nurture a new and powerfully deep and trusting relationship with yourself. There is no better way to learn to depend on yourself and foster a sense of self-efficacy than to keep your promises to your higher self. Honoring the calendar will empower you to move beyond the foundations of a Big Life and begin to work toward higher level goals that your now healthy lifestyle can sustain in the long-term.
the big life plan
I created a 5 week Big Life Plan plan to jump-start you into feeling your best and get your started living the life that you always wanted. Honoring the calendar is the three-step in that plan. Here’s an overview of how it all works together.
By the end of that 5 weeks:
- You’ll be working out 3-6 days a week at activities you enjoy doing. You will have the motivation to continue as a permanent lifestyle for long-term health and wellness.
- You’ll have an organized home. Things are in their place. To-do items are scheduled or taken care of, and you have a system in place for staying organized over time.
- You honor the calendar so that desired actions are as good as done.
- You plan out & prep meals ahead of your week using a system that simplifies and streamlines planning, shopping, and cooking for you and your whole family.
- You’ve identified personal goals that you’d like to achieve over the long-term. You have a plan in place to help you move away from obligations that don’t serve you, and toward specific actions that do. You’ve taken the long view of your next 12 months and have taken advantage of advanced planning and specific calendared action steps that make you feel wonderfully confident that you are, by week 5 living the life you’ve always imagined. You’re doing it day by day.
At the end of five weeks, you’ll feel strong, healthy, organized, and purposeful, and most of all you’ll have a renewed and trusting relationship with yourself and your body. Want more information?
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