If Someone Peeked at Your Calendar, Would It Show What You Value?

Yes, I’m talking to me

In the wake (literally) of Tropical Storm Eta in November, I wrote a post about the lesson of the sand dunes — a reminder that boundaries protect. At the time, you may have wondered why piles of sand made such an impression on me. This post might give you the back story. Short story: I’ve failed to establish boundaries that protect what I value most.

I think I was afraid to value it.

Going through ‘the change’

During that vacation at the beach in late fall, I determined that I needed to stop multitasking during my Scripture reading and praying each day. On vacation, it was easy to read and journal before hitting the beach for exercise. I had to wait until the sun was about to rise anyway.

But once I returned home, it got real.

Yes, “the change.” My schedule had to change to reflect my values — and it has meant I am less physically fit as a result of that. It means I should eat or drink fewer calories or save longer workouts for the weekend — or buy bigger clothes. (Except that I determined that my word of the year is “satisfied,” and being satisfied with my current wardrobe means I will add nothing to it this year.)

When I say “my schedule had to change to reflect my values,” what I really mean is that “I changed my schedule AFTER I remembered what I truly value.”

While I vacationed at the beach where I found inspiration in objects such as sand dunes, I also took the time to explore two books: Steven Pressfield‘s The War of Art and Nir Eyal‘s Indistractable. (Both are inspirational and practical reads.)

I had been struggling to carve out spaces of time for my personal writing and then struggling to write when I had the time. Both books address those struggles.

Pressfield by exposing all the forms Resistance can take. (He calls the enemy Resistance.) I recognized my own battle with Resistance within the pages in The War of Art.

“Resistance is the most toxic force on the planet,” Pressfield writes. “It prevents us from achieving the life God intended when He endowed each of us with our own unique genius” (The War of Art, “The Unlived Life”).

He, personally, counteracts Resistance by getting his behind in a chair to write for a scheduled amount of time — and by recognizing that a Being higher than himself provides the inspiration.

Eyal exposes distractions for what they are — anything that prevents you from making traction toward your real goals based on your values. Like Pressfield, Eyal writes as if he’s been peeking into your life and then exposes all that distracts you from your real goals.

One of his suggestions is to create a time-blocked schedule, rather than a to-do list. Though I have more to learn (or more to do with what I’ve learned), I have begun revamping my own life to create a time-blocked schedule that reflects what I value.

Like Pressfield, I’ve been planting my behind in a chair to write — even if what I write seems worthless. Like him, I conquer Resistance by acting as a professional who does her job. (Well, my calling.)

Results of the change

After that November vacation, I returned to work, which meant a return to an alarm at 3:59 a.m. but a change in routine. Instead of listening to sermons while I did my chores so I could rush to the gym, I silenced the radios, grabbed a cup of coffee and my phone (with the Bible App), and sat down to read and reflect on the day’s devotion and Scripture passages.

Then I took time to journal, my best way to talk with God — and hear from Him. Only then did I return to radio and chore land before heading to the gym, much later than I liked.

That is my new normal. My workouts are much shorter, but I still exercise and my heart feels light, even if my body doesn’t.

My time-blocked schedule is still a goal, but it isn’t an achievement. As you can imagine, I’ve had glitches in those efforts — crazy errors in my Outlook email that took two days to remedy, a complaint by a client that I needed to address, a star intern who let me know she needs to quit this week, etc.

And, of course, old habits tend to threaten my great intentions and simply override my efforts by making me forget the new and auto-pilot the old. But, largely, I am making the needed move to a time-blocked schedule.

The sweet spot for me is when I can create a plan that becomes a routine that becomes a habit. I can do that when I have only myself to consider. When I need to accommodate meetings or other people’s projects, it’s harder to do that. I continue to try.

I sense Resistance isn’t happy with my attempts to prioritize the important rather than the urgent. I rather expected some push-back, and I’ve gotten it, disguised as battles with myself or others and even sickness.

Can I be honest? I’ve been afraid to live my life as if I were sold out to God because I feared Satan would stand up and take notice — and cause me grief. (This is worthy of its own post.) I’ve decided I want to live fully in God’s presence no matter what Satan throws at me — because it’s worth it.

And because God is enough. He satisfies my soul. (That thought is worthy of my first book. Stay tuned.)

So I am building my boundaries to protect my time so that I can live a life that reflects my values. Like those sand dunes that start with a single plant that roots, holds firm, and starts to collect drifting grains of sand, I have planted my first boundary: God first.

The rest will follow.

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