The Five Things . . .

The Five Things . . .

I get asked a lot about the juggle.  You know, three kids, divorced, two businesses, real estate investments, start-up investments, board service, coaching, family, kids in ALL THE SPORTS, strong friendships, adventurous travel, etc.  The number of balls in the air just keeps growing every year!  When I get that question, my first thought is always - I have grown through my perceived capacity so many times in the last 15 years.  I’m so grateful to finally have the phrase from Atomic Habits author James Clear: “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” —Atomic Habits, chapter 1.

Whew.  You fall to the level of your systems.  Sit with that for a moment.  I know for me,  I have fallen to the level of my systems more times than I can count!  You know, those mornings when you wake up in a panic because your sticky note mound on your desk has completely taken over all surfaces and you don’t know what to do next, or you forgot to calendar/write-down/enter something into the project management system and you are afraid you missed a deadline!  I’ve shed a lot of tears in those moments, and that kind of stress bleeds through into all of my relationships.  I’ve learned to spot the signs in those meltdown moments in advance (most days), and I take the message loud and clear - look at your systems.

One of my core systems is “The Five Things”.  They are not magical.  You can find them in thousands of places on the internet.  But I’ve been asked a number of times about the five things, so I thought I’d put them here in case these five things can help someone else in their journey.  These are the foundation, and when I don’t honor those five things, my relationships suffer - all of them.  Family, friends, clients, employees, etc.

  1. I move my body every day - You can do this in all the ways with classes online or in person, but I also mean walking on a call, 12 minutes of yoga in your bedroom, walking around the house in the dead of winter for 20 minutes, go up and down the stairs at the office to move anxiety, walk into the bathroom and do 20 squats. Just Move. Your. Body. Every. Day.  Ideally with a few gym days built in.  Best bet: exercise with others - walks with friends are the best. Social connection plus moving energy!
  2. I regularly sleep 7 hours a night. Yes, sometimes this gives and falls below 7, but not for more than a day or two.  If that happens, I make sure to work on an 8-hour night.  Ideally, going to sleep and waking up around the same time every day.  When I was first starting Stock Legal, I found myself at one of those meltdown points, and in talking to the professionals in my life about what had to give in order to fit it all in, the answer was NEVER sleep.  I now track my sleep with my Fitbit every night to hold myself accountable.
  3. I eat real food, mostly plants - Yes, we all love fries, and I just ate them last weekend, but I’ve mostly cut out processed food and fast food. Here’s the thing . . . that kind of food does not make me feel good.  It makes me sleepy, cranky, bloated, and foggy in the head.  When I clean up my diet, not only do I feel good, but my pants fit better!  My best hack - I make a smoothie every morning with spinach, fruits, and a few handy supplements. That said, I try to keep the 80/20 perspective.  80% of the time it’s real food, mostly plants.  20% of the time it’s whatever the heck I want!  
  4. I drink a lot of water, and limit caffeine and alcohol. If you know me, you know that most days I have an assortment of drinks surrounding me.  The one constant is that I always carry water with me.  I will usually then have a few caffeinated beverages, but not usually after 3pm.  Those are almost exclusively organic coffee and teas. In the last 10 years, I’ve cut my alcohol intake significantly.  These days, I only on drink on special occasions, and only when I’m happy because when I’m sad it just makes it worse.  
  5. I always make quiet time in the day for myself - For me, that might mean meditation, prayer, or just sitting quietly in my car alone while driving to clear my head. Hide out in the bathroom if you have to I hear that dark showers are the best for clearing your mind!

Bonus - these five things have been shown to lead to mood elevation, nervous system regulation (better stress response), weight loss, better overall health, lower risks of heart disease/cancer/etc., and many more health benefits. Who doesn’t want to feel better?  

Now, real talk - I fall off this train occasionally.  No one is perfect, and life gets crazy sometimes.  Lately, I find so much gratitude in that because the self-awareness that comes from experiencing those uncomfortable feelings reminds me of why they are important every single day!  And I get up the next day and do the five things.  I almost immediately feel better and am more effective at juggling all the balls!