A Simple Strategy to Make Sure You Stay Balanced AND Achieve Your Goals

Joshua with hazelnuts and oranges;)
Joshua with hazelnuts and oranges;)

I know that you’ve got some amazing things to accomplish this year. As a true Freedom Junkie, your plans for the upcoming year are bound to have some elements of expanding your comfort zone, going on adventures, expanding love and passion in your life, growing in your career (or changing to a new one!), and feeling yummy in your body, mind, and spirit.

I also know that many of us Freedom Junkies have a hard time fitting in everything we want to do – especially in a way that leaves us feeling centered! I recently wrote a post about how I got seduced away from balance while on a three-month adventure in Africa, and how I brought myself back to center again. The key thing is to try and prevent that in the first place. While I have been known to say Balance is Bullshit, I am more speaking to what balance means for YOU, and what happens when you feel you are moving away from what you know works for you.

I want to share with you an analogy that I think works really well for helping to understand how to make it all work when you’ve got a lot to juggle. One of my health and nutrition teachers, Joshua Rosenthal of Integrative Nutrition, does a demonstration he calls Big Rocks:

That’s Joshua up there. He’s standing by some hazelnuts and some oranges and a glass jar. Here’s what they represent:

The hazelnuts are the tasks and duties we have to do in life. The “stuff.” The small stuff that takes up HUGE chunks of time unless you’re careful.

When you toss in an orange here and there and keep adding hazelnuts, there isn't enough room for your oranges - the things important to you
When you toss in an orange here and there and keep adding hazelnuts, there isn’t enough room for your oranges – the things important to you

The oranges are the things in life that are of utmost importance to us – our major goals, our most important values that we want to honor.

The glass jar is the time and energy we have available to do all those yummy things we want to do, like our dreams and goals.

Oftentimes, what we end up doing is picking one “orange” – like the new project we want to launch in our business this year, for example – and focus on that for a bit. Then little by little (or sometimes in a flood!) we pour in a bunch of “hazelnuts,” like mowing the lawn, checking email, perusing Facebook, helping a friend edit an article, watching a movie…get it?

Then we remember another orange, like, “Oh shizzle! I told myself I was going to spend more time with my family and friends this year!” So we do that for awhile. The we add more hazelnuts like starting that other project that is shiny and new instead of finishing the one we wanted to finish, or doing loads and loads of laundry, or carting around that friend of ours who refuses to buy a car because it isn’t “environmental,” or drinking too much and being hung over the next day.

Then we remember yet another orange, but there is VERY LITTLE SPACE LEFT. In fact, before we know it, the hazelnuts of to-dos have taken up most of the space, and we have some lonely – and important – oranges sitting outside of our life. There isn’t enough room

When you put ALL your oranges in first, the hazelnuts will work themselves around the things you've prioritized
When you put ALL your oranges in first, the hazelnuts will work themselves around the things you’ve prioritized

for everything.

And that is exactly how it feels, because there ISN’T enough time when that’s how you do things.

The good news is there is a different way of doing it: put ALL your oranges in FIRST. Pick the top three to six things that you want to get done, and before you do anything else, get those things done or focus on getting them done, no matter what. Get really clear about what “getting them done” or accomplishing them looks and FEELS like.

When you put the oranges in FIRST, and let the other stuff work around your most important values and goals, there is plenty of room for what is important to you. Even the hazelnuts fit (well, most of them!). And it feels much better to not have a few hazelnuts fit than some of your oranges.

So there ya go! This year, practice this technique. You can even do it for each month, each week, each DAY!

“What is most important for me to do today?”

Everything fits. See Joshua's smile!
Everything fits. See Joshua’s smile!

Another tip: ask yourself, “What is the next most IMPORTANT thing to do?”

It’s my hope that as a result of this, you’ll spend more time doing things that are truly valuable to you, that help you grow, that help you feel and taste success, and help you make 2013 your best year yet;)

Note: Ana Verzone is a personal life and health coach, mentor and the original Freedom Junkie™ She helps passionate women awaken their lives of freedom, adventure and purpose, from their cells to their spirit. Her monthly Ziji Up!™ eZine goes out to thousands of subscribers. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can learn more about her coaching programs, schedule a free life assessment, and download her FREE Clarity + Courage ecourse by visiting www.anaverzone.com.

*Images from Institute of Integrative Nutrition

Days 41, 42 and 43 Burning the Candle at Both Ends

Living Full-On Every DayA part of me was secretly excited that my site was down for over 24 hours (all was good – it was maintenance). That’s because I was way too busy to write a post. And that’s the way it has been for the past 3 days, actually. I’ve been so busy, in fact, that I have only slept 10 hours since Monday (and I write this Thursday morning).

Not all of this is due to something “stressful.” I had many amazing Freedom Junkie client calls, helped dozens of women with their lives and their health, and feng shui’d my house so that it looks like a freakin’ model home (it’s on the market, otherwise it would look like its usual bohemian madness self). I also brought multiple babies into this world in the wee hours, and that, albeit not ideal timing for sleep – is always a miraculous time of day. All this was not without the help of other amazing kick-ass women in my life, like my personal assistant Jenna, my medical assistant Claudia, and my organizers Kristin and Cathy (thank you!). But while those events fed my soul, the sum of the whole left me with my ass whooped. I was so whooped, I was brought to tears – yet I was too tired to cry. So I just thought about how good it would feel like if I did. Dang!

So what to do? I am guessing my future post about today – and perhaps even tomorrow – is going to be about Full On Rest. Amen.

from my morning snow run

I’m writing this as I head to Anchorage. Normally I would be super excited to get there. But being as tired as I am, I am not looking forward to having to build a fire when I get to the yurt, or shovel snow. So instead of focusing on that, I am going to book a massage (maybe even massages!), promise myself that if I don’t get to sleep in an hour after arriving I am also booking a hotel room with a jacuzzi tub for the night, and then I am going to plan a spa day with my Alaskan girls. They could use some pampering after all that backcountry skiing we’re going to do;)

It is funny how I have to give myself permission to rest. After ALL that stuff I accomplished, there’s still a little voice telling me I can do a bit more. But who cares if I could!? Just because we can do more, doesn’t mean we should do more. Yes, I am talking to YOU, fellow super-woman extraordinaire. YOU don’t have to either.

Well then, it is settled: today I am choosing to do nothing. I can be gentle with myself and do absolutely nothing. Let me rephrase – I need to be gentle with myself and do nothing. After all, on top of that sleep deprivation, I also passed through the anniversary of my first encounter with The Big C (8 years yesterday!). Yeehaw! C free baby! A cause to celebrate, but also an emotional experience to be reckoned with.

Which reminds me that I had another mole removed from my right shoulder Monday (Day 41), reminding me of my second run-in with the Big C. It was my four-leaf clover mole. I’ve had it forever. I even have a picture of it. But I wasn’t 100% sure if it was changing or not, and I would prefer not to dance with a melanoma again, so I had them shave it off. And to boot, this was at 7am. Ouch.

So yeah, I deserve every bit of rest I can muster.

Was it worth this degree of fatigue? I’ve already mentioned some Full On moments from the past 3 days. Thinking back on others, I also went for a morning run in the snow (while it was snowing!), and that woke me up big time and had me appreciate beauty first thing in the morning, which is always a blessing. I dipped back into my yoga practice, which escaped me for a bit these past few hectic months. I scored some sweet party wigs for a fiesta I am having this weekend, celebrating that 8th year of being free of my renal cell carcinoma, and visited with some girlfriends I hadn’t connected with for a long time (albeit on the phone!). Plus I spoke to my mom, every day, even though I was utterly exhausted.

So when I choose to focus on those moments, yes, it was all worth it. I’d rather have had some of those moments than been asleep. I’d have done it a little differently in hindsight, perhaps. But sometimes we just have these bursts of time where we barely make it over the finish line. And that’s just life. Sometimes you just need to do what you need to do, and try to do it with as much grace as possible.

I am designing my life to have fewer of those stressful bursts, though. I know I can have both adequate sleep and kick-ass moments. “Sleep when you die” is not a funny phrase to someone who has had cancer twice;)  And in reality, this was just one of those times in life where all those things HAD to be done – and I did them! So I am celebrating the fact that I kicked some busy ass. And I am SO not doing that craziness again for awhile. Promise. We need to remember to fill our cup!

When we find ourselves in those moments of being stretched to our max, this is where Ziji comes in: knowing – no mater what – that you can do it. Because you have time and time again. And you’re still here, having everything you need inside you to move through this, with grace and courage and a kick-ass attitude.

Add a spoonful of self-love and compassion for this gal. I am heading to bed…after booking that massage!


Note: Ana Neff is a personal life coach, guide and FreedomJunkie™ She helps individuals awaken their lives of freedom and personal success with confidence, clarity, self-love, and passion. Her monthly Jedi Juice ™ eZine goes out to hundreds of subscribers. Her Full-On 365 blog posts stem from her commitment to living full-on, every day, for 365 days in a row. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can learn more about her coaching programs and download  her FREE Getting Clear Guide by signing up at FreedomJunkie.com! Sign up for her next FREE Jedi Juice Training at FreedomJunkie.com/jedi-juice