Today I am going to talk about a book called "Take Time for your Life: A Seven-Step Program for creating the life you want" written by Cheryl Richardson. Cheryl Richardson was originally a tax consultant where she found out that her clients needed advice and support on making decisions on the non financial aspects of their lives. Eventually she stopped doing people's tax returns and gave workshops on the "secrets of success". This is different from the other books I have read in this topic. She focusses more on life instead of simply career or personal goals. Outward achievement is all well and good, but if it is not balanced by what she calls "extreme self-care" you will burn out and be no use to anyone.
Slowing down to success
The best part of Take Time for Your Life is its vignettes of people with whom Richardson has worked.Most of her clients seem to live fast-paced lives and dream of more time for themselves, more fun and more authenticity in their existence. They feel that it is time to step off the merry go-round and take stock.
Richardson identifies the seven common obstacles that these people seem to face in living their best lives:
- They generally have difficulty putting themselves first.
- Their schedule does not reflect their priorities
- They feel drained by certain people of things.
- They feel trapped for monetary reasons.
- They are living on adrenalin
- They don't have a supportive community in their life.
- Their spiritual well-being comes last.
You may feel that to get ahead or simply maintain your current success you have to work very long hours, sacrificing everything. This is a myth, and Richardson shows how altering even small things about your daily existence can make a big difference. She mentions one woman, for instance, who tried leaving work by 5:30 pm each day and found, to her surprise, that her work did not fall apart; she achieved the same amount through greater focus and delegating.
Yet Richardson's book is less concerned with time management than it is with self management. She does not suggest abandoning your responsibilities, merely that you need to devote much more consideration to the renewal of your energies. In his book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People", Stephen Covey calls this "sharpening the saw." Without frequent sharpening you become blunt in a productivity sense and lose the ability to connect with the people you love and influence those you work with.
Tipping the scales in your favor
One of the main ways to regain balance is to create what Richardson calls an "Absolute Yes" list, a ranking of what you feel are the most important aspects of your life. One client of Richardson's, Joan. put at the top of her list daily time to herself to read, meditate or exercise. Second was time spent with her husband each evening. Next came quality with her children, then study to complete her degree, time with friends, and finally household chores. She had to reorganize her life to fit these priorities, but the result included much better moods and greater harmony. Note that the elements in her life did not change, just the order of priorities.
The gift of Take Time for your Life, through its hundreds of ideas for self-care, is the feeling that you do not have to be hurried along by circumstances. You can regain control of your life simply by making more conscious decisions. The seven obstacles to a balanced life mentioned above are the springboard for Richardson's strategies to "win back" our life. The following gives a taste:
- Regular "downtime" is important for your sanity. At first you may feel very edgy in doing "nothing" but as Richardson put it, "We all need a holiday from thinking too much."
- Pay people to do services you normally do. Though it costs money, "sharing the wealth" allows you to care for yourself and think at a higher level, both of which can bring you greater success.
- Go through old stuff and papers and throw much of it out. This makes way for what your really want to come into your life.
- Don't fret over spending a little less time working. The world has a way of rewarding those who are focused and make better use of their time.
- Identify the drains on your life; that is, the people, places and situations that tax your mental and physical energy. Eliminating or lessening their impact is the beginning of successful living and abundance.
- Stop running on caffeine or adrenalin. "Fuel your body with premium fuel and it will provide you with the strength and stamina to live well." Caring for your body is essential to living a high-quality life.
- Consciously engineer more "amazing moments" into your life: bring back the soul.
- Tell people when you are grateful for what they have done.
- Write a journal.
- Notice your dreams.
- Follow your intuition.
- Have the courage to seek your highest purpose instead of simply looking for another job.
Taking time for financial health
As you would expect from a former financial consultant, Richardson includes a useful chapter on "Financial health". She manages to bridge practical financial skills witha more spiritual attitude to money. Her thesis is that once you decide to take more responsibility for your finances (paying bills on time, paying off your debts, keeping an account of spending), money stops being a source of frustration and beings to flow more freely into your life. You have to get more serious about money before it gets serious about you.
She identifies all the attitudes you may have to money that prevent you from attracting more of it, and disabuses the ready of such ideas as " I am a creative person, I shouldn't have to worry about financial stuff." A person can be both spiritually and financially rich, Richardson says. She includes a list of books at the end of the chapter that can help you appreciate this, covering the practical and spiritual aspects of wealth, including authors such as Catherine Ponder, Thomas Stanley and Robert Kiyosaki.
With her emphasis on spiritual well-being Richardson may not seem too practical for some readers, but her definition of "spiritual" is fairly loose. It simply means the sense of calm that comes to you when you are willing to stop and contemplate. Though uncomfortable at first, the practice reconnects you to what is important and therefore puts your life on more solid ground.
You need to appreciate the truth that success should not be "at all costs," that you don't want to achieve something if it leaves behind a trail of poor health, ignored spouses and children, and the hollowness of never having any time for yourself.
With its checklists, wealth of ideas, and warm friendly style, Take Time for your Life, is as close as you will get to a personal coaching relationship in a book. Sometimes you need a person outside your regular circle of friends, family, and co-workers if you are to see your true worth. While therapy will focus on your problems, a good life coach will work with you on your possibilities. The element of success are already there- you simply need to identify them and bring them to the fore.