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The Family Dimension

In previous posts, I talked about the five dimension approach I talk to life coaching. In the last two posts, I talked about the physical dimension. In this one, I talk about the family dimension. Often, this is the area clients feel they neglect the most in the hustle and bustle of every day life. They allow work schedules to overwhelm them and turn around one day to see their toddlers just days away from entering high school or worse putting on their graduation cap and gown. Suddenly, they discover the need for balance in their life realizing it is too late to bring back the years they have lost with their children.

Family Dimension: Multiple relationshipsfamily dimension

My approach to the family dimension looks at two branches of this area that may seem a little different from others. The first area will be familiar to you, I’m sure. It deals with the relationships in the family. I try to explore with you what kind of relationships you want and what kind of relationships you have. Relationships is purposely plural because their are many in every family. Parents influence us, whether alive or passed on. Whether we come from a great, loving environment or a broken home. Whether we have been abused or witnessed abuse at the hands of one or both parents. These have impacts on us in many ways.

Next we look at the relationship with your spouse. Is it what you want? Can it be better? Did you expect him or her to change? If so, that’s an unrealistic expectation in marriage. What about you? Did you change? Probably not. So what’s different from when you first met and how do you bring that spark back? What kind of relationship are you looking for and how do you get there from where you are? Is this a first, second, third, … marriage? If multiple marriages, is it your spouse that causes the issues? Why are you attracted the same kind of person?

How about relationships with children or stepchildren? How do you handle the stress that comes from conflicting schedules? What are your parenting issues? Having raised a boy and a girl who are now out on their own with spouses and with three grand kids, I’ve learned a few successes and a few mistakes along the way. What are you looking for and how do you get from where you are to where you want to be?

How about relationships with your siblings? Are you close? Do you want to be? How about with their spouses and children? How do you begin to have the relationship you envision with them? Is it possible? What if it doesn’t happen? Can you handle being rejected or isolated from your siblings if their beliefs are unlike yours? How if your beliefs and values are important to you?

What about your extended family relationships? These can get convoluted in our society where more than fifty percent of the population live in broken homes. Multiple sets of grandparents, aunts and uncles kids have never seen, maybe even unknown brother and sisters from multiple marriages. Family relationships can get very complicated, very quickly.

Relationships in families can be difficult, but are some of the most important parts of life. A life coach can help you priorities and create the relationships you want.

Family Dimension: Financesfamily dimension, money

The second part of the family dimension that I talk about in my approach is family spending habits. While I discuss job and career and earning as part of security under the physical dimension, real financial security comes from spending less than you make. Those decisions should always come through family discussion and consensus. More divorces happen over money than any other single issue, so it’s important to discuss spending early and often in every healthy marriage. Until the family learns to spend less than the family makes, finances will continue to drive a wedge between partners. There are things you can do to reduce spending and get finances under control. Once money is no longer a wedge, relationships can grow.


Physical Dimension Means Secure, Too

Physical Security and Health

When I talk to my clients about the physical dimension of life and life balance, I talk about three things. First, the security that comes from good health. I mentioned the three components Americans don’t do well in my last post, Physical Dimension of Life Balance, nutrition, sleep, and activity. When we maintain our health, we feel more secure about ourselves and our future. Illness pulls us into depressed states and makes it much more difficult to feel secure about other aspect of life.

Physical Security and Job, Career, or Purpose

physical security_career best adviceThe second aspect of security I share with clients centers around career, job, finance, knowing you have some kind of wealth to fall back on as you face increased responsibilities, grow older, and come closer to the end of life. At twenty, losing everything you own is not such a big deal. My first moves were in the back of my car. Most of you can remember those days. In my mid-thirties, it was a very different story. I had a wife and two kids to consider. It was okay if I was destitute, but I could never allow them to be destitute. I needed an income, a place for them to feel safe, clothes and food for them. I wanted more for them than just necessities. In my forties, it was about college bills, getting my kids into the right schools, establish their own skills and career patterns so they could succeed themselves (and move out of the house!). Now in my late fifties, it’s a question of whether I can build the right retirement portfolio before I quit working or reach a point when I can no longer work. And when I hit the magic age when I cannot work, I’m sure the security questions will revolve around what home will my kids put us in and is there enough money to pay for it.

Physical security in this second meaning, then, ties closely to two other dimensions, family and spiritual. Let me explain. It ties to family because financial security is never about how much you earn, but rather about how much you spend and that involves family spending habits and expectations. The problem with most families in financial trouble is not how much they make, but how much they spend. When you spend more than you make, you never catch up. That’s the problem with the current administration’s “get out of debt” concept. You can never spend your way out of debt!

Physical security ties to the spiritual dimension because it’s in that dimension that you find purpose for your life. When you know why you are here, you can do more than just find a job that puts food on the table. The reason 65% of workers are unhappy in their jobs is because they never match purpose with career and job. They pick up the paper or search the internet, apply for something they think they can do, get a job and get stuck. They never figure out their purpose in life and never pursue a career in which they will truly be happy.

Security is important. A job can make you feel secure, but it cannot make you happy. A career can make you feel more secure than a job, but again, you may not be happy in your career if it doesn’t make your purpose in life. By matching your purpose, career, and job. You will enjoy what you do, make money doing it, and feel secure in it because you know you are made for that purpose.

Physical Security and Safety

A third part of physical security is safety. I mention it briefly because if safety is an issue, it must be dealt with swiftly and is really out of the purview of life coaches. If you do not feel physically safe where you are, do something about it…now. Whether it involves police, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, carpenters or construction workers, marital counselors, or some other specialty to intervene, take care of the safety issues in your life immediately. You cannot continue to live in what you perceive is an unsafe environment.

 

 


Physical Dimension of Life Balance

The physical dimension of life balance is one often overlooked by Americans. We spend billions of dollars every year in healthcare, yet we are one of the unhealthiest countries. The Army Surgeon General, Lieutenant General Patricia Horoho began a campaign when she entered her position to try to stem the tide of deteriorating health among military members’ long-term healthcare needs by focusing on three simple areas that produce long-lasting results in this physical dimension, nutrition, sleep, and activity.physical dimention

Nutrition – Eating Right

Americans top the list in terms of eating the wrong things at the wrong time. We know what’s right, but just fail to follow the rules. Because of our affluence in the world, we have a tendency to eat tremendous amounts of sugars and fats, grains and processed foods. More than any other country we over indulge and eat more. We want our money’s worth! So we go for the buffet lines. Consequently, our adults are morbidly obese, our kids are obese, and we have the highest diabetes rate in the world. Is it genetics? If it was, it would be type I not type II. Face it, we’re fat because we eat too much of the wrong stuff.

The answer to our physical dilemma? Eat right. Look up a heart healthy or diabetic diet and follow it. Period. Start early. Put your kids on it…now! Teach them that fruit and vegetables are better than chocolate cake…by example! Take the soft drinks out of the house, make them an exception to the rule instead of the drink of choice. There are a lot of fad diets out there that won’t work. Sure they will take off pounds, but the pounds will come back as soon as the diet ends.

The secret to weight loss and healthy living is lifestyle change. That’s where the heart healthy or diabetic diets (they are almost the same) come in. You can change to these diets for a life time and make them your lifestyle eating habits. If you value your physical condition, change your eating habits. it will make a world of different in how you feel day to day.

Sleep – the body’s time to heal

Before electricity, we went to sleep when the sun went down and woke up when the sun came up. We took naps when we got tired and our bodies told us what to do and we did it. Somehow in the last century we decided it wasn’t good to listen to our bodies and most Americans figured out we don’t need as much sleep. We stay up all hours of the night, force ourselves awake with a blaring alarm clock, drag through the day, fall asleep on the coach watching TV, but stay up to watch that movie we just can’t miss and end up going to bed at 1:00. Then start the process again the next day.

Take a few months and figure out what your optimum sleep time really is. Go to bed at the same time every night. No TV, no radio, no distractions. Just a dark room. Set your alarm if you have to, but get up when you wake up and see how long you’ve slept and how you feel during the day. Start at 10:00 for one week, move an hour either way. Tired may mean either too much sleep or too little sleep. Most adults need 7 – 9 hours sleep. Most teenagers need 9 – 12 hours sleep. Most children need 10 – 12 hours sleep. It depends on the person’s metabolism, but figure out what’s right for you. It’s during your sleep that the body heals itself. To improve your physical condition, figure out how much sleep is right for you, not too much, not too little.

When you find the magic number, you’ll find you seldom need an alarm clock. Go to bed at the same time every night. Make yourself a routine. Plan to go to bed at or near the same time every night. Get up at the same time every morning. Even on those day that you could sleep in – don’t! If you find you have to stay up for a special event on some nights, that’s okay, get up at the usual time the next day, but schedule a power nap during the day to let your body catch up on sleep. Don’t break the wake up times. You’re body will thank you for it in the long run.

It really is okay to schedule power naps. A ten minute power nap can do wonders for you in the middle of the day. More than twenty minutes, though, will give you a groggy feeling that is hard to get over, so don’t plan longer than a fifteen minute rest. There are relaxation techniques that can help you get into a restful state quickly to take full advantage of those ten minutes if you have trouble clearing your mind or relaxing. The last ten minutes of a lunch break or that dreaded 2 o’clock wall is a great time to plan a short power pick me up nap.

Activity – moving doesn’t mean becoming a jock

Americans somehow equate the mandate to get active with going to the gym five days a week working out with weights and running a hundred miles a week. Because we see all the gym advertisements and the specimens of physical perfection encouraging us to work out, we slugs assume they must not be talking to us, right? And so we sit on our couch and stuff ourselves with potato chips as we think about what a slug we’ve become.

The third stool of staying healthy doesn’t mean becoming a jock. It means moving every day. So what is that exactly. It means quit circling the parking lot trying to find the closest space. Instead, just park and walk. After all, you’re going to walk every aisle in the store anyway, right? Just add some more steps in the parking lot. It means walk up one flight of stairs and down two flights instead of taking the elevator. It means if you’re at an open air mall, don’t move the car if you’re going to another store, just walk. It means walk around the block. It means if you own a business, reserve your parking place at the back of the parking lot instead of at the door (that’s good customer relations anyway!).

Just move. Make it a point to add some physical activity to your life. Get up off the couch and do some physical things that raise your heart rate a little. Do some things that move your muscles and joints every day. Do so physical things that will let your body recognize that you are not hibernating.

How do you manage these three components of your life?

What are your tricks for eating right? sleeping right? moving more?

How do you avoid the temptations to fall back into bad lifestyle patterns?

 


Clutter creates chaos

A cluttered desk, a cluttered room, a cluttered house, a cluttered life can all add stress to your life. Things get lost. Some people can live that way and it never bothers them. Most can not. You’ve probably flipped through the channels and seen “Hoarders” and been mesmerized by the piles and piles of stuff an individual can accumulate without really being aware of it. For those individuals, it’s a disease, an obsessive compulsive disorder. For most of us, we can let little things pile up, though, until it becomes an overwhelming distraction and we just don’t know where to start.

That’s the problem with my garage at the moment. I have a detached garage and it’s just too easy to shovel out the stuff from the car and put it on the closest thing at waist level before pulling out for a last-minute departure. The problem is when I return, I fail to recover the junk I left behind and instead just close the door…out of sight, out of mind. So now…remember the “Hoarder” scene? It’s not quite that bad, but…

What the garage does to me, though, is keep a small nagging voice in the back of my head that continually say, “Richard, you need to clean up the junk! You need to clean up the junk! You need to clean…” But Texas is hot. There are a million other things I’d rather do than clean up the clutter. I know my back will hurt when I’m finished because of age-old injuries. I’m embarrassed to hire someone to do it for me because it’s gotten so out of hand. But the voice keeps calling, “You need to clean out the junk! You need to…”

Fixingcluttered-garage1 the clutter problem

As a life coach I know what physical and mental clutter does to a person. So, it’s time to get after it. But I also know that if I try to tackle it all at once, I won’t make it. Physically because of previous injuries, I’ll end up not moving for several days if I tackle the task all at once. I know that about my physical capabilities. That must go into the planning risks. I also know about how long it will take me to get the job done based on the square footage of the space and the length of time it take per square foot from a short experiment earlier.

So I can free myself of the physical clutter and the mental clutter by getting the task into my calendar, making it an appointment like every other appointment I make and sticking to it. It is hot in Texas, but not so hot at six in the morning. I just need to handle the task as my morning exercise. It may not work all the same muscle groups, but that’s okay. An hour of cleaning up that mess will probably do as much or more with different muscle groups and takes care of two tasks at once. I don’t even have to worry about getting wet during workouts since I’ll be inside!

That takes care of the pile. Then it’s building the habit of removing the stuff when I get out of the car, not before I get into the car. 21 days! That’s what the psychiatric world says it takes to build a habit. So I’ll put a sticky on my door, on my steering wheel, on the console to remind me I’m building a habit. After 21 days of doing the right thing…voila! I’m on the path to a clutter free garage and no more voices in the back of my brain.

Your garage may not look like mine. Maybe it’s your Fibber Maggee’s closet (okay, some of you are too young to understand). Maybe it’s your desk or your sock drawer. Whatever the cluttered part of your life, you can fix it. A life coach can give you some tips and techniques and help hold you accountable.


Set Priorities with the 95% Rule

Reading one of Talane Miedaner’s Life Coach blogs reminded me of a rule I’ve tried to use for several years to set priorities. It goes something like this: “95% of everything you do today doesn’t matter, so find the 5% and do it well.” When I started using that rule a hundred years ago, it was an 80% rule, but as I’ve matured the number gradually grows. I expect in another few years it will change to the 99% rule.

Some of you are skeptical and don’t quite get it yet, so let me explain the concept in a little more detail. You see, we get overwhelmed with life too often. We allow ourselves to worry about things that no one really cares about in the long run. We lose out on the important because of the urgent when the urgent will disappear without a thought and no one will remember it tomorrow. If you think about it, most of the things you do and most of the things that happen to you today, you won’t remember next week or even this time tomorrow. And no one around you cares about it either.How-to-Set-Priorities

I find it really interesting with what we do for work at the expense of family. I’ll have to admit I’ve been guilty in the past. I had to get that report done. I needed to make one more call. I had to meet one more client. Hogwash! When I left the assignment or the company or the job, my position was filled in no time and no one cared whether I was there or not. Life goes on for the company. But I can never get back the ball games missed, the recitals unheard, the birthday parties where I showed up late, or the anniversaries when I was out of town. Those are gone forever.

How about that report that must be done by close of business? Who’s going to read it at close of business? Will it lay in the inbox until morning anyway? Why miss that important event? Make a deal with the task master and come in early to deliver it so you don’t miss that once in a lifetime special event. If your boss makes you miss the event, you’re probably working for the wrong boss. Start looking for different work! That said, there are certainly times when work needs to come first, but not often. There are times when you need to come first. There are times when family comes first.

Priorities are fluid

Priorities are fluid things based on a lot of factors. I’m not a big fan of a making a hard and fast inflexible priority list except that God is at the top…period. Apart from that, when I was writing the medical support plan to make sure 135,000 soldiers had the right medical care in Desert Storm, that task took priority over my family for the moment because of the gravity of that task. It didn’t mean I didn’t love them or care for them, but the situation dictated they took a back seat for a period of time until that task was done.

Sometimes, I’ll recognize from the tone of text or phone call from a family member that a crisis is unfolding and walk out of a meeting because family is more important than whatever meeting I’m in. If I lose a sale because of it, so what. Family is more important than any amount of money that meeting might have brought to me. One word of caution about living with flexible priorities. You need a strong compass and those close to you must understand how you operate. Communication is key.

So what’s the real secret to discovering the 5%? Usually, normally, most of the time the 5% will deal with eternal things and relationships. That’s it. That’s the magic formula. Nothing else matters much. Material things disappear and just aren’t that important. If you don’t believe that, ask hurricane victims or flood victims. Stuff can be replaced, people can’t. Take care of relationships and the rest will fall into place.

What do you think about the 95% rule?

Do you have a comparable philosophy?

How do you set priorities in your life to keep well-balanced?