Guest Blog Post by Matt Soderstrum - Matt is a LifePlan Facilitator, Coach, Speaker and Writer. You can find out more at his website and blog – www.mattsoderstrum.com.
Awhile ago, I was meeting with George (made up name). George came to me struggling with hope and purpose. He was unhappy in his job. He was having trouble sleeping. He had lost all sense of joy in his life. Frankly, George was frustrated with the direction of he was going. He felt he had more to offer the world than what he was currently doing.
After visiting with George and asking lots of questions, we came to the conclusion that one of the main reasons George was frustrated was due to him not taking care of himself. George was exhausted – his tank was empty. George wanted to make a contribution to the world and to make a difference in the lives of others, but he was not able to do that since he was not in a healthy place himself. He was living on fumes.
Perhaps you have been there. Maybe you are there now. I know I have been.
Flashback 20 years. I am a funeral director working long, stress-filled hours with a wife and five young children at home. My weight was approaching 340 pounds. I am getting very little exercise. I am not taking care of myself physically.
When I had stressful situations, I ran to food. Have a death call in the night … a stop at the convenience store for a donut on the way home; a death call during the day … a slice of pizza following the embalming; after meeting with a family … a cheeseburger and fries …
I was not taking care of myself in other areas as well. I was not challenging and growing intellectually. I certainly was not at my best emotionally or spiritually – although I tried.
It is little wonder I felt unfulfilled in my life – that I felt there was something more – that something had to change.
Again, maybe you are there. Maybe you don’t run to food, but maybe you run to alcohol – or drugs – or pornography – or some other escape. Maybe you just know you can be better – a better funeral director, a better spouse, a better parent, friend, neighbor …
One of the 19 tools (or exercises) that is part of the LifePlan process is called “The Replenishment Cycle”. This is one of my favorite tools in that it is so practical. It is something that can be discerned and implemented that very same day. The Replenishment Cycle focuses on what specific activities a person can do – on a regular basis – to be at their best – physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. It is an energy management tool that is based on the book “The Power of Full Engagement” by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. It is truly a fascinating book that I highly recommend!
Loehr and Schwartz focus on working with professional athletes. For athletes to be at their best, they must work out and stress themselves physically, but just as importantly, they must also allow their bodies to rest and renew. It is the same way for our other realms – intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. For people to be at their best, we must use each of these areas – and stretch ourselves in each of these areas – but just as importantly, we must allow these areas to renew and replenish.
So, how is this done? How does a person develop a specific list of activities that they not only should do, but that they must do so that they can be at their best.
Find some time and get alone and think through this issue. What is it do you need to do to be at your best – physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually? Maybe for you it is walking 20-30 minutes per day or going to the gym. Maybe you need to read a good book 30 minutes a day – or connect with God daily. This list will be different for each person. What helps you to be at your best? What refuels you? Many activities will help all four areas. Getting some physical exercise helps me in all four areas. Try to come up with 4-6 specific activities. Think through each realm. Be realistic. Smaller and doable is better than something you won’t do.
Once you have made a list of activities, do them! It makes sense, if I need to get my butt moving and do some cardio exercise 3-5 days a week so that I can be at my best, then I should do that! It makes total sense, but sadly, we this is not how we tend to live. We neglect taking care of ourselves. To care and serve others, we must first take care of and serve ourselves. It makes total sense – so start doing it!
Every couple months, pull out your list of activities and ask yourself a question. Am I being renewed and refueled by my replenishment cycle? If so, great, keep at it. If not, then why not? Are the activities not working for you – or are you not working the activities? Give yourself a kick in the pants and get going!
Don’t be afraid to rewrite your list. For many, different seasons of life mean different activities that will refuel you. I live in Iowa. Winters in Iowa suck. If one of my activities were walking in nature 30 minutes a day, that doesn’t work so well in the winter months. For a stay at home mother, having kids home from school for the summer makes life look much different than it does during the school year. Renew your replenishment cycle on a quarterly basis to what best suits you. Don’t be afraid to revise your list. Find things that work for you.
This is so obvious!
This whole self-care and replenishment cycle stuff is so obvious. These are all things we know we need to do. We know we need to take care of ourselves physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. The sad thing is we don’t do those activities that make us more whole and healthy. I don’t believe any of these activities should be hard – they should be easy for us to complete. The thing is, it is just as easy not to do them. This is a decision we must face every single day.
I would encourage you to get help with this. Sit down with some friends and share your list. Go over this with your spouse and children. Talk about it with your boss. Ask for some accountability. If you would like, I would love to help you process through your replenishment cycle. That is the beauty of having a coach. They can help keep you accountable to what you want to accomplish. They ask the hard questions.
I believe this is one of the most important items you must address. What do you need to do to be at your best – so you can be the best you that you can be, so you can be the best spouse, parent, child, friend you can be, so you can be the best funeral service professional you can be … you get the point.
So, what do you need to do to be at your best? What refuels you?