5 Steps to Taking Control Where We Can

My 2020 vision (I thought that sounded so cool as we approached New Year’s Day 2020.) has not materialized the way I planned. In fact, I let go of most of my plans (or at least of the way I thought I would pursue them) in March, when COVID-19 shattered the image that most of us had pictured for our year. Like many, I have been tiptoeing my way through this year, trying to figure it out as I go. I haven’t been completely dormant. I have continued to make progress on my book, albeit at a slower pace. I have started work on my book proposal. I completed two certification courses—Running Coach and Vegan Nutrition Diploma. I have parented my teenager in this pandemic pandemonium. I have submitted, and had accepted, my first guest blog post. And I have re-envisioned the future I want to create for myself. 2020 has helped to bring into focus my priorities and what I want and don’t want in my life. As this year winds down, we don’t know what to expect from 2021, although it will likely look far different than it would have without an intervening pandemic. I have created a new vision for myself, from the perspective of my new pandemic-heightened insight.

There is much we cannot control in our world—both now and even in non-pandemic times. There is no point wasting energy and effort on the things that are out of our control. Instead, we can approach life from the JustWind Mindset and realize that we have the power and freedom to choose our perspective, allowing us to liberate ourselves from victimhood, optimize our lives and make the difference we were meant to make.

In Functional Medicine Coaching: Stories from the Movement That’s Transforming Healthcare, Sandra Scheinbaum and Elyse L. Wagner highlight five modifiable lifestyle factors related to health:

  1. Sleep and relaxation
  2. Nutrition and hydration
  3. Exercise and movement
  4. Social Relationships
  5. Stress

In essence, these are the things we can influence that affect our physical and mental well-being. Just as physical and mental well-being are intertwined, so are these modifiable lifestyle factors. Each factor influences the others. When I recently read about these lifestyle factors in  Scheinbaum and Wagner’s book, I thought about how they interact with the five realms of Optimal Living in which I want to use my strengths, talents, passions, resources and experiences to reach my full potential, while helping others do the same. Those five realms are:

  1. Body: Our physical form and function.
  2. Mind: Our intellectual and cognitive activity.
  3. Heart: Our emotional and relational life.
  4. Spirit: Our connection to something greater.
  5. Legacy: Our body of work and impact on our world and those who share it.

The five modifiable lifestyle factors are important for optimizing in any of the realms. We can use a process I call “Route Planning” to figure out how to use these factors to optimize each realm. I am creating a tool for implementing this process and will share that in coming weeks. In the meantime, here is an exercise you can use to create positive change. Grab a journal or open a Word document. Then:

  1. Envision your Legacy. What do you ultimately want to leave for the world? What impact do you want to make? What are you called to create?
  2. Consider each of the four realms (Body, Mind, Heart, Spirt) that contribute to the fifth—Legacy. Honestly, assess how well they are contributing to your progress toward the Legacy you envisioned. Use a scale of 1-10 to rate each realm if that is helpful to you.
  3. How can you use the five modifiable lifestyle factors as ingredients to optimize each of those realms, better positioning you to achieve the Legacy you envisioned?
    1. Are sleep and relaxation part of the equation? How could this improve?
    1. Are nutrition and hydration part of the equation? How could this improve?
    1. Are exercise and movement part of the equation? How could this improve?
    1. Are social relationships part of the equation? How could these improve?
    1. Is stress part of the equation? How could this improve?
  4. Look at the ideas you wrote for each factor. What is the first step that you can take today or tomorrow to get you started (or move you along to the next phase) in making progress toward your Legacy vision?
  5. TAKE THAT STEP. See it through and then decide which one is next.

The process I am developing combines elements of route planning, from cycling; plan-of-study creation, from academic advising and training program development, from coaching, to help you create a map for achieving the Legacy you desire. The exercise above is a simplified version of it, but it allows you to take an honest look at what you can control and start to create a route for getting to your ultimate destination. Every step (or pedal stroke) counts.

In this year of so many uncontrollable factors, let’s take time to identify what we can control and take action where we can. I have made that commitment, and so can you.

By the end of 2021, I intend to have secured a book deal, built a viable platform of readers and created a writing life. I will elaborate more on these in the months to come. One of the actions I am taking, starting now, that contributes to all of these intentions is to increase the frequency of my blog posts from every three weeks to weekly. This is a big commitment in my full life, but it feels important.

What step are you taking right away to propel yourself forward toward the Legacy you envisioned?

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