Lately, every time I talk to Natalie on the phone, I find myself walking outside to weed my garden. I weed with one hand and hold the phone with the other and sit in the dirt and enjoy the sun. It occurred to me today that weeding was a metaphor for our friendship and for this time in my life.
I am not the first and won’t be the last to suggest that we can use this pandemic time to simplify our lives, appreciate what we have, spend time with loved ones, and get rid of some of the mental and physical clutter (get it… weed our gardens). All great ideas, but how do we start?
I started by writing down the things that I value in one column and the things that I spend time on in the other. The next step is to evaluate how they match up. You may have done this before. As a result of this exercise, I have decided on 3 conditions that I use to evaluate how I spend my time. Everything that gets my time and attention doesn’t have to meet all 3 criteria, but it does need to meet at least one of them!
- Does it make me deliriously happy?
Not just half-grin happy… not just happy that someone else is happy… but does it make ME happy? Do I laugh? Do I feel recharged when I finish?
- Does it make the world a better place?
One of my personal values is that during my life, I act in ways that improve my family, my community and the larger world. Learning about issues involving animals is an example of that. As a board member of a nonprofit called Fanimal, I learn about connections between animals and humans that aren’t always happy. That’s ok, because I am devoting my time and energy to a cause I think is important.
- Does it make me money?
Seriously, I am a single mom and that simply has to be included in the equation.
So what about Natalie? Natalie is one of a handful of friends I call my “reality check” friends (although maybe I should call them my weeding friends). She is one of those friends who knows my values, and helps hold me accountable to them. Sometimes we all lose sight of our values and need someone to help us get them back in focus.
If you haven’t spent time on your values, now is a great time to do it. And if you don’t have a Natalie in your life, start interviewing people for the position. It is so much easier to stay true to your values if you have people around you willing to help.