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New Year. New Rules.

Your sense of personal power is very much influenced by what areas of your life you give yourself permission.

Let me explain. In October I found myself in a Zoom meeting. The same Zoom meeting I attend every week, with the same people at the same time. As I sat at my desk and listened and watched the other attendees, actively participating, I found I was doing something else.

I was glancing at my phone in case I received a text message. I was surfing Facebook for the 14th time since the meeting started on my other screen. I was looking everywhere except where I know I should’ve been.

At the very moment it hit me. I was simply in a holding pattern and I had been in since March.

At the time I was very restless, bored and frustrated. Like many I thought the pandemic would’ve subsided by then. I wanted to go somewhere. Anywhere. Especially the meeting I normally attended in person.

That holding pattern meant I wasn’t paying attention to literally any area of my life. It was like I was waiting in a cave, hibernating, and anxious for Spring, at which time I’d go back to all the things.

Things like, getting back to the gym and shopping. Travel on the weekends. Going out to lunch and dinner with friends and family. Going to concerts or musicals or plays. That hasn’t happened yet and it’s January of 2021. I realized that the old rules, guidelines and constructs no longer worked. Were they supposed to work? Did I blindly play along because I was supposed to? Something was missing. I sat down and made a list. A list of things I was giving myself permission to do. You might be surprised at what showed up.

I started with how I wanted to feel.

Energized, joyful, disciplined, healthy and grounded. To get there I decided to take little actions that would provide, over time, a big boost.

1) Sit down when I eat. Walking around with my meal was unsatisfying and felt rushed. The simple act of sitting down was intentional and felt disciplined.

2) Pay attention on Zoom meetings. Shut down other screens, flip my phone over. Keep a notebook close for notes and my camera on. This helped me to feel engaged and participatory and SEEN.

3) Exercise daily in fresh air. Meditate. Pray and do some body weight exercises. Movement and fresh air are necessary to move emotions, especially stale emotions through my body. It’s invigorating.

4) Plenty of cool water. Super important. I operate much better when I’m hydrated.

5) No more coffee in the evening. I once thought I could drink coffee late in the day and it wouldn’t affect my sleep. I was wrong. This one change has improved the quality of my sleep significantly.

6) Choose my actions wisely based on how I want to feel.

7) Reach out to friends and family regularly. Send cards with handwritten messages. Send text messages, podcast or music links and video calls when possible. This reminds me I’m not alone.

8) Work less. I’m a doer. There’s always work, both household and professional work to do. When I got very clear on what had to be done to give me the most impact, I worked less. I found that I am so much happier and don’t feel nearly as rushed.

9) Dance, sing and laugh. This is vitally important to me. It’s fun and silly and unlocks the joy gene.

10) Remain attentive to how I’m spending my time. Just yesterday I sort of “woke up” when I realized I had most likely be on Facebook for at least 2 hours straight. (National crisis) This made me anxious, fearful and my stomach hurt. Breathe.

The areas of permission I gave myself to do life just a little bit differently, instead of waiting in reactive mode, changed my life. I got my power back.

The old rules no longer apply. And now I’m wondering if they ever really did?

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