This week, we’re walking you through part two of my coaching session series with Tess Brigham. In an effort to show you how a coaching session works, and show you more of my life, we’ve put together a coaching series where you can read a slightly edited version of our conversation.
In this session, we talk about my routines and worked to create a plan that felt more intentional and aligned with my goals.
Read part one on my cross-country move and navigating overwhelm.
Here’s part two:
Tess: So what do you want to talk about today?
Coley: I’ve sort of worked through some blocks when it comes to like defining myself as lazy and all of that I started to tell you about. But I definitely still constantly feel overwhelmed with everything because I have a ton of ideas. I just have a really hard time focusing on things and doing what needs to be done to make some of these things happen. Sometimes it’s better than other times. But ultimately I’m not really living the way that I would like to right now and just kind of trying to figure out how to be more intentional in that. I want to get past the mindset stuff that’s blocking me.
Tess: Well let’s start with what it is that you want. If you could snap your fingers, what would your life look like if you were always being intentional? What time would you get up in the morning? What would your days look like?
Coley: Yeah, so I would wake up at 5:30. I have a plan in place already. It just doesn’t work out the exact way I want it to.
Tess: Well tell me what the plan is and then let’s talk about what gets in your way that it doesn’t work out that way. And we’ll just kind of go from there.
Coley: Okay. So 5:30, I would wake up, drink some water, get my workout clothes on, and go to the gym for kickboxing. It’s like two minutes away from me.
Tess: So you ideally you want to get there by like 5:45?
Coley: Yeah. It’s a 30-minute workout, so I would be home by 6:20, shower, and make a smoothie. And then get ready. Ideally somewhere in there… (I haven’t figured out where this would come in) would be meditation or something like that to set me up for the day. I have been wanting some sort of like visualization practice where I can feel sort of badass at the beginning of the day, but I haven’t quite figured out what that would look like. And then get ready and go to a coffee shop, where I would do Life Goals, work for an hour-ish and then head to work.
Tess: Okay. So what time are you getting to the coffee shop?
Coley: So I’m showering 6:20 and ideally all of that happens within 45 minutes. So the goal would be to get out the door by a little after 7. And then I’m at the coffee shop until 8:30.
Tess: And then you’re at work ‘til 5 pm?
Coley: Closer to 5:30.
Tess: Okay, so what I find is that for most people the morning routine is easier to stick with over time. What would you like to be doing in the evening that you’re not doing now? Or do you feel like your evenings are pretty much in control?
Coley: No, my evenings are probably more out of control.
Tess: Haha okay!
Coley: So for the mornings, I do tend to do most of these things. They’re just usually at the times I want or as consistent as I’d like. At night is really where I get set back a lot and it might be my atmosphere. I’m in a studio apartment, which I love. But it’s very convenient to just chill in my bed. Often, I have the TV on while I’m doing work and then usually that means I’m not even doing work, I’m just watching TV.
Tess: What are you wanting to do in the evenings?
Coley: You know, I’m not really sure. My ideal self would probably learn to cook a little more, have more fun with that I guess. I would like some element of doing something fun, and beneficial, for me in the evenings.
Tess: Okay. So ideally you would love to be able to come home at 6:30 pm, cook yourself a really nice meal and sit down and eat it. And then when you’re finished, sit down and get a couple of hours of work done and maybe we watch a little TV and go to bed. Is that sort of the evening you envision for yourself?
Coley: Yeah, but going back to my ideal, I feel the best is when I have plans in the evening of some sort. I definitely don’t want to be out every night, but I’d like to have a couple of nights of my week out with friends. Whether it’s just working with somebody at a coffee shop or meeting people for drinks, whatever it is. I like having those kinds of plans scattered throughout my week.
Tess: Yeah, I’m with you. So you want to have some balance. Let’s talk about when you go meet a friend at a coffee shop to work. Do you find that productive or do you find yourself just chit-chatting with your friend, most of the time?
Coley: Mmm… a little of both. Probably more chit chat, but if I’m doing this sort of meetup, I go in knowing it won’t be the most productive work thing. Probably my favorite thing to do these days is to meet people through Life Goals, and it feels like both networking and getting to know someone new. Or another thing that feels both productive and fun is shooting photos with my friend and then getting dinner. So I like to have it feel productive on the business side, but also enjoy the social aspect of it.
Tess: Yeah, I get that. You need to go out with your friends and have fun. So the evenings that we’re talking about are the ones where you say to yourself, “I’m going to go home and get some work done.” What does that look like for you, ideally? Or is it that you’re not doing any work at all? Is it that you’re getting everything done in the morning?
Coley: See, yeah, that was kind of the plan originally. It’s been about two months since I switched to both working out in the morning and going to a coffee shop, because I felt like my evening plans were just not happening. And if I did have social plans, then I felt like, well then when am I getting my workout in? And so even though they were, workouts were pretty consistent still, I don’t know, I felt like both mornings would start things off a little better. Even if I did get all my work done, to be honest, I would probably still want to work because the work never really ends with what I do.
Tess: How has it been for you, switching everything to the mornings? I’m sure at first it’s hard to get up early, but do you feel like this has been really good for you?
Tess: Okay, so you said sometimes it gets derailed. What happens?
Coley: The wake-up time for sure. I still snooze a lot even though I leave my phone across the room. Ha. Even if I still make it to the workout, it’s just later, it’s more like 6:15-6:30. It’s so silly too. Cause then I like beat up over stuff that I decided was my requirement. Like no one is making me do this. It’s so weird cause is 6:15 is still early. That is still an accomplishment.
Tess: Listen, I will tell you that I have a love/hate relationship with the snooze alarm as well. So I get how hard that is. And I have my clock across the room too. And I’ve heard all these stats, you know, the minute you snooze, you’re not getting good sleep because your body’s not in rest long enough. I’m wondering what happens if you pick 6 and then really get that down and then you go to 5:45 and then get that down and then 5:30.
Coley: Yeah. Even when I feel like, “Ok, we’re ready for the day.” And I feel rested enough, I still stay in the comfort of my bed anyway, because it’s so hard to get up.
Tess: You know why you do that? It’s because our brains and bodies are designed for comfort and they’re designed to protect ourselves at all times. Our bodies know how to react to things, in order to keep ourselves safe. So when the snooze alarm goes off and you’re walking over there to turn it off, even though you might feel awake, there’s this other part of you…the survival instinct in you that’s going, no, no, no, no, no. Your bed is comfy. So that instinct kicks in which is why we all long to get back in bed when the alarm goes off no matter how much sleep we got the night before. This is why it’s so hard switching some of these habits because there are certain habits that are so ingrained in who we are as human beings that they don’t make any sense in the modern world.
Tess: Well first make sure you’re getting enough sleep, and then make this alarm non-negotiable. You said your phone is already across the room. Maybe you need to put a sign next to the phone that says something like, “Remember your goals.” This is a reminder to yourself that you have a goal that’s more important than this 10 minutes of sleep.
Coley: Yeah. I think it’s important for me to remember that with this snoozing, I ultimately have less time to work on Life Goals.
Tess: So what if you had a sign, really simple, grab a piece of paper and just write whatever it is you feel like you need to say to yourself in that moment?
Coley: Yes, I think that would work really well for me.
Tess: When it comes to the visualization piece, I’m wondering if there’s a way for you to combine that with the coffee shop. What if before you get into the work, you take some time to write either morning pages or a list of things you’re grateful for. This list can be made up of things you’re grateful for that you already have and for things you will have in the future. You’re combining the visualization with the intention, not only of what you want for your future, but what you want to accomplish today. Just sort of setting yourself up for the day.
Coley: Yeah. I love that.
Tess: Okay, so then the other thing I would suggest is on a Sunday night look at the calendar and say, “Okay. These are the things that I’m going to get done on Monday. These are the things I want to do on Tuesday.” And having some room to carry things over if you need to, but being very intentional so that when you sit down at the coffee shop, you know you have 10 minutes and you’re going to either journal, visualize, write the gratitude list, or the morning pages exercise. Once that’s over, you’ve got your list of things you need to get done that day. It should feel very doable so you’re not in your head thinking, “Oh my God, I’m never getting everything done!”. Don’t say things like, you’re going to write a whole program in two days, which is insane. I think a lot of times people put those expectations on themselves. No one can do that.
Coley: Yeah. It’s very hard for me to choose what things to prioritize, like I have a bunch of ideas and I know I can’t do them all. I know I have to choose. It’s just very hard to choose and let other ones go, when I want to do it all….I think Tony Robbins says something like, you overestimate what you can do in a year but you underestimate what you can do and like five or 10 years. I will fill out my to-do list and sometimes it’s not even long, but I think it’s because the action items are probably not small enough of something, because they feel overwhelming. I’m definitely more of a big picture and ideas person. And then the day to day stuff like that, the action items, checking things off lists, is where I tend to get stuck.
Tess: Really it’s about getting these big picture ideas decided and then every day you’re doing these small incremental things to get you to that goal. It sounds like what’s happening for you is that you’re sitting down with all of these big picture things and then looking at the computer and beating yourself up because your mind can’t automatically go to those small incremental things.
Tess: So first off, stop beating yourself up about it. It sounds like if you’re really great with the big picture stuff, then maybe for you, it’s important to schedule some time over the weekend to map everything out. Make it fun for yourself, and really just plot all of this out. Get one of those giant calendars that they have at Staples and look at all the months in front of you and really hone in on every single piece of what you want to do. And then from there, you can look at all of these things that you want to do and just break everything down. Just keep breaking things down into smaller digestible pieces. So when you sit down in front of the computer, it is very clear what you need to do.
Coley: Yeah, I love that.
Tess: Okay. Do you have time this weekend to really just get the calendar, find the space, whiteboard it, and really plot it out and just say, I’m going to trust this?
Coley: Yeah, that sounds good.
Tess: Okay great, so you’ll take action on that. Wake up at 6 am with no snoozing, and work on getting that routine down.
Coley: Yeah. I honestly think I might try for 5:30 again, and see if I can do it with this mindset.
Tess: Yeah. Well, we always get up for a flight. You know, we always manage to make it to the airport. We always managed to make it work. And really what this is that you’re snoozing on the commitment to yourself.
Coley: Yeah. And that’s why it feels bad.
Tess: Yeah. It’s very, very common. We are very good at serving everyone else, but ourselves, not so much. I’m glad you’re going to get rid of the word lazy, because you have to shift your mindset around how you speak to yourself as well as how you view yourself. Because you have this viewpoint of someone who is not doing enough, not achieving enough whatever the words you’re using. And really what it is, it’s you saying that’s not who I am. I have this commitment to myself, because this is the life I want to lead. It’s I want to live this life today. This is who I am and this is the commitment and the intention that I hold for myself.
Coley: Yeah. I guess that’s what I need to like have as my mantra or something every day is like that reminder of the commitment to myself.
Tess: Yeah, then that’s the thing that you write. Put it on top of the phone, so you actually have to move the piece of paper.
Coley: Okay, sounds great.