Staying the Course

I’m just returning (yesterday!) from a lovely trip to Portugal. My beloved has spent the bulk of the month in Europe for work, and in a pretty last minute decision, we made a plan to meet up in Portugal for a part-work/part-fun trip. We’ve fantasized about living abroad and working remotely for a period of time, and this seemed like a great opportunity to do so. Short version: Though not always smooth or easy (ugh, I caught a yucky cold!), I loved it. We also loved Portugal itself, and can’t wait to go back and explore more. But this post is not about my great (it was!) trip that we were lucky (so lucky!) to take.

This is about staying the course through the ups and downs of life.

While I was away, the news cycle back home kept churning. I found it upsetting. This is not a novel occurrence. It’s life. And it’s not JUST the news, but also the domino effect of reactivity it sparks. When I’m home, this cycle can have a pretty derailing effect on me and my work, for which I beat myself up. My focus will get pulled and my productivity (and mood!) will tank. It can take me awhile to get back on track, for which I will also beat myself up.

This time was different. Being away offered me an opportunity to entertain a completely different relationship to the news. And it wasn’t about lack of access: I was completely plugged in, and could have feasted on as much news, email, social media, etc., as I wanted. Remember, I was working–ok, maybe not at full capacity, but still working. But I made a very conscious choice to limit my intake of the news. Sure, I saw the headlines flow across the few channels for which I have notifications enabled (side note: these limited notifications are another choice I make to be in alignment with my boundary-setting goals), and I would see just enough to be current and caught up on a high level. But I chose not to click through, and that made all the different. Instead of getting sucked in, and allowing the news cycle to ruin my day, my boundaries helped me stay on course.

You probably won’t be surprised to know that this choice left me feeling happy, light, and relieved.

I am not saying this choice was easy by any stretch, and I do recognize that time differences and different routines help facilitate setting boundaries. Here’s the thing: This decision was about my desire to NOT ruin my vacation! I just didn’t want to go into a rabbit hole that I knew would only end with a rotten mood and ruined day (in Portugal!). I know myself and my tendencies very well, and this insight is exactly what helped me understand a different choice was possible. Making change always begins with getting clear on what’s currently going on, and the resulting unconscious patterns and habits of reactions and actions.

Life is pretty much made up of moving between peaks and valleys, and many or most of these ups and downs are completely outside our control. Just like the ever-flowing news cycle, this is just a part of our human experience. The trick is to find steadiness and stability through it all, and it’s the very thing I work with clients on all the time. Here’s my strategy in a nutshell:

    1. Understand how we react to external variables;
    2. Make a decision about how we’d rather react;
    3. Figure out how to set better limits both with ourselves and our time.

All of this is so we can basically STAY THE COURSE.

Can you relate? Are you frustrated with how impacted you can become, or pulled into and off your goals, by current events, the news, social media, or the other rises and falls of life? If so, believe it or not, you’re actually already on the right track. Knowing you don’t like how you are reacting to what comes your way is a key first step in identifying what different choice you’d like to make. Only then can you act on your desire by setting boundaries with yourself. This is what facilitates new and improved choice-making, so you can stay steady instead of reactive to the twists and turns of life. Which is exactly what I did while on vacation.

I’d love to hear how you manage the constant barrage of information, news and media. Are you successful with limit-setting? I’d love to hear what’s working for you. And, as always, I’d love to hear what you’d love more support on. Hit reply and let me know!

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