Life is crowded. It’s crowded with too much information, too much stimulation and too many responsibilities.
To live with a sense of joy and purpose, we must effectively navigate an overstimulating environment so we can stay focused on what’s most important. We must make sure our to-do list aligns with what’s truly meaningful so we don’t become sidetracked with unimportant tasks on a regular basis.
How do we begin the process of defining our priorities and organizing our lives around them?
First, we need to create space for ourselves.
What do I mean by “space”? There are many types of space and each can play an important role in helping us live better. And, though each type takes time and effort to create, the payoff is well worth it in the long run. In fact, I believe that the single greatest gift you can give yourself this year is more space.
The type of space that will benefit you most is something you’ll have to decide for yourself, of course. To get you started, here are some ideas...
Space in your calendar to recharge. Setting aside adequate time alone on a regular basis is one of the best ways to improve the quality of your life. Psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter says that time by yourself can improve concentration, give you the opportunity to think about important things you don’t otherwise have time for, and problem solve more effectively, among other things.
Time alone gives you the opportunity to figure out what’s most important to you and how to live out these values. Need some strategies? Click here for useful tips.
More time in nature. Spending time nature may be an activity that brings you joy in and of itself; I know that just stepping outside for a walk in the woods relaxes me. But even if you’re not a nature lover, the benefits of being outside are worth making time for this activity.
Spending time outdoors gets us out of the busy and crowded indoor spaces where we spend much of our day so we can decompress. Being in nature boosts mood, creativity and cognitive function - all things that will help you step back from the frenzy of everyday life and effectively evaluate your priorities and responsibilities.
Dedicated personal space. Many psychologists and thought leaders agree that having personal space is critical to living well.
“Regardless of one’s profession, I believe it’s important that we all have what I call a ‘sacred space,’” says psychologist Diana Raab, MFA, PhD. “Yogis call this a place where one can do inner work. Artistic individuals call it a place to be creative, and others might call it a place to unwind from the chaos of our lives.”
Author Joseph Campbell who was famous for living a life of passion and purpose, said, “Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.”
Establish a personal sanctuary for yourself that you can return to on a regular basis. It will provide you with the critical space you need to evaluate your priorities and stay on track with what’s most important to you.
Learn how to create a personal sanctuary space for yourself. Get our FREE Sanctuary Starter Kit to get you started.
Emotional space. We’ve all faced difficult emotional circumstances in our lives. Perhaps we’ve lost a loved one, been deeply hurt by the actions or words of others, or are struggling to accept a profound disappointment.
Working through difficult emotions means taking the time to identify, examine, accept and manage them, a lengthy process that requires commitment. Avoidance of difficult emotions tends to back-fire in the end, creating more unhappiness and stress, so carving out regular space in your calendar so you can work through your emotions adequately is important. This article provides some excellent strategies for doing so.
Space for an important relationship.
You love your significant other, but lately you’ve noticed that the two of you are behaving more like business partners than sweethearts. While you function as an effective team managing day-to-day responsibilities, you’re not spending much quality time together.
Or maybe there’s an important friendship that’s starting to fizzle. You find that your regular lunch dates and meet-ups for coffee are getting side-tracked by everyday life and it’s creating distance in the relationship.
It’s easy to take important relationships for granted, forgetting that even strong, long-time relationships need regular care and feeding. Perhaps you need to create more space in your life to connect with those important to you. Consider setting aside dedicated, pre-planned quality time to nurture the relationships you hold most dear.
Check out this article to learn more.
Space from your relationship.
My husband can’t wait for me to leave the house.
Don’t get me wrong: we have a great marriage and love to spend time together. But like everyone, he needs time by himself to relax and think his thoughts. So when I plan that weekend lunch date with a friend, he enthusiastically sends me on my way.
It’s easy to think that loving someone means wanting to be glued at the hips. “Loving deeply doesn’t mean wanting to be together every minute,” psychologist Jeremy E. Sherman Ph.D., MPP reminds us. “[E]ven if love may conquer all, it can’t consume all. We have many other things to do, some of which at times become a higher priority than spending time together...”
It’s important to spend regular intervals apart from your significant other so both of you have the time and space you need to recharge.
Ready to make some space for you and your important relationships this year? Here are four steps that can help you do so.
- Decide what type of space you most need. Which type of space would provide you with the most benefit right now?
- Imagine the reward. Take several minutes to imagine how your life will be better when you create this type of space. Imagining the long-term benefits of this change will help you stay on track when you feel discouraged or stuck in the change process.
- Arrange your environment for success. Read my previous blog to learn how to make your environment work for you, not against you, while carving out space for yourself.
- Take “turtle steps”. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your habits won’t change over night. But your habits WILL change if you’re smart about the strategy you use. Check out my blog on how taking “turtle steps” can change your life.