What Shape Are You In?

A routine check-up for managing all of our life roles

When I start to feel drained of energy, or when I snap at people or feel resentful when I'm asked to help, these are my clues that my life is out of shape. Usually saying yes to too many opportunities is what pushes me over the edge. When life starts feeling like it's getting out of control, it's time to stop and assess priorities. Here's a check-up I use to assess the shape I'm in. Maybe it'll help you too.

First, take a few minutes and list all of the roles you play in your life. If your list includes titles like child of God, mother, pastor, and friend, your life looks pretty tidy, like a square. Add roles like walking partner and Bible study student, and your life looks more like a hexagon. Now add scout leader and community volunteer and you're an octagon.

Many people can list 20 to 25 different life roles. At this level, a life can be seriously bent out of shape and display a lot of jagged edges, which may explain some of the sharp words that fly from my mouth when I get out of shape.

To get your life in better shape and maintain it, start every week with a short review of your life roles. With those roles in mind, schedule the non-negotiable tasks for that week. Set aside the amount of time you'll need to complete them.

Next, consider the smaller, non-critical tasks. Schedule these in the gaps left in your schedule, and include the time it will take to complete them. It only takes a few minutes to get a picture of where your time will be spent, and knowing this, you'll be able to avoid the "Just One More Thing" syndrome.

Finally, instead of trying to master multi-tasking, learn to focus on one role at a time. When you're at work, leave your family issues at home. When you're home, leave work issues at the office. For me, this means realizing that my two young daughters will only greet me at the door at the end of the day, jumping up and down with excitement, for a few short years. To make the most of this small window of joy, I have trained myself to park at the end of my block for a minute–just long enough to take a deep breath and ask God to help me leave my work behind and be fully present to my family when I walk into the house. Even a small action like this helps keep my life in better shape.

When we're in shape, we feel more productive, focused, and happier. Our relationships work well. We feel God's presence. What kind of shape are you in?

Vonna Laue's life is multi-faceted. She is a wife, mother, CPA with the accounting firm Capin Crouse, and has served in her church in various capacities throughout her life.

June 22, 2011 at 1:41 PM

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