I love being organized and have a very structured approach to most things. If there’s a system to make things more efficient, I make it my business to find it and implement it. I literally have a system for everything and, that works well. Lately, I found myself more than a little bogged down by life; the nature of my work has changed in recent times, and that difference can be challenging. I’ve had to pivot a little, a lot, as have most. I was finding it hard to get up with the same level of enthusiasm that I usually have… It got me thinking about how to shift this feeling and how to make myself more resilient in this area…
I found part of the answer in gratitude. The rest lies in being intentional.
I start every week with a plan. It’s part of my systematic approach to work and life and makes good sense. There’s more than one way to plan, and different planning methods are not mutually exclusive, as they can be entirely complimentary. One way to prepare for the week ahead is Clock planning which involves the forecasting of what needs to happen and the amount of time that it will take to accomplish what’s on the ‘to-do’ list. Most of us are familiar with this way of planning.
How do you decide what’s important and where to put your focus?
After all, what you focus on matters. This brings us to a planning system known as Compass planning. This approach to planning sets aside the efficiencies of things and asks a different set of questions. Questions such as: What really matters? What significant progress do I want to make? What are the meaningful relationships that I want to impact? What are my commitments to the community and even to myself? Most of how we approach life comes down to the roles we play and our relationship to that role. One of my roles is Self and I decided to make this role a priority. So this time, when I sat down to do my Monday morning Compass planning gratitude made it on to the list and putting it on my list made it a focus to soothe my soul.
It’s the focus and intentionality that makes the difference.
“Wear gratitude like a cloak, and it will feed every corner of your life.”Rumi
When we aren’t intentional, we run the risk of living life on autopilot and most of our days and our experiences are routine. The real value in Compass planning is that it reminds you to be intentional about whatever is on your Compass and what’s important to you. It’s not about efficiency, it’s all about IMPACT. It allows me to think about the quality of my life, and instead of thinking in small chunks such as hours and days, it shifts my focus outward to impact and purpose.
The benefits of gratitude on how we feel are well documented, and the research in this area continues to grow. Being grateful can have a positive impact on self-esteem, sleep, relationships, mental health and even longevity through stress relief. Now placing gratitude on my Compass reminded me to intentionally look for things to be grateful for.
For any planning system to work, you need to refer to it frequently.
Doing so requires effort, whereas autopilot doesn’t. Autopilot is unconscious. But, life either just happens, or you are deliberate about it. Also, it takes being appreciative to a new level. Gratitude and appreciation while they are related, they are different. Appreciation is externalized while being grateful is internalized, therefore having a bigger impact on me. The act of putting gratitude on my Compass, which I looked at every time I referenced my planning tool took it from my looking at ‘it’, to ‘it’ looking at me; turning it on it’s head.
Gratitude, while it won’t change the circumstances in which we find ourselves if we practice it and make it a deliberate and intentional act will increase well-being. It will also shift how we experience ourselves, our relationships, and our work. Of course, it also increases our ability to cope with everything on my plate and less bogged down in the minutiae of life.
Bottom line: Gratitude, allows me to be resilient and more importantly, happier.