There is only so much energy I have to spend each day, like a character’s life bar as seen in video games. It is the most precious resource there is. A whole economy has emerged built on the consumption of your energy, time, and attention. The attention economy. If we intend to progress as humans, we need to guard this resource and spend some time in inquiry about how to allocate it.
In 2016, I was beginning to realize that all of the days and weeks were blurring together. I was spending all of my time and energy focused on a few things; performing to my personal and company-driven standards at ExxonMobil, having fun, and most of all… having fun. To this day, I look back on the memory of (sometimes lack thereof) parties, festivals, wild nights, and any other easy and fun excuse I had to put off the things that were truly important to me. I can’t blame myself for being human. It’s in our nature to pursue the path of least resistance with maximum pleasure.
What’s the difference between pleasure and TRUE happiness? I’m not talking about what’s revealed in a “fake laugh on 3” Instagram post. I’m talking about the feeling that you get in your gut when you’re connected to who you really are. When you’re there for someone in need, finish a personal project with absolutely no deadline, or fulfill your life commitments without attachment to reciprocation.
This is what I was lacking in my life.
Then came the “what do I REALLY want to do with my time on this Earth” moment. I realized that I was living for weekends of pleasure and weeks of yearning for the next at the expense of fulfilling a higher purpose. The roles in my life are who I choose to be to the world. I feel the most connected to purpose when there is a moment of balance across all of them. When I’m living up to the standard in which, I feel complete with each role.
There were days of introspection, sitting with myself, and sharing with others to get to know me through my Yoga practice and over 500 hours of Yoga teacher training. What I was committed to became so clear.
Then this simple tool was born to create the habit of checking in regularly with who I’ve committed to be for the world. It brought up clear actions to take in order to get back to equilibrium. It helped me discover roles I was committed to that no longer served me.
This practice became ever-present in my life. Roles have come and gone. I am present and aware of where my energy is spent. This is one angle to build awareness in life. As in meditation, when the mind wanders, the practice is noticing and coming back to your breath or another anchor. When life wanders, this tool helps me notice and come back to my center, my commitments, my dharma.
Ask yourself, am I living up to my life commitments right now?
The graph you see in the featured image on this post is a simple excel document. I list my commitments and rate them, 1-5, with a max of 30. That way I know if there are ever 7 roles, something’s got to give.
You can use this chart or your own mechanism to track where you are against your commitments. It’s not the tool that makes the difference, it’s finding balance by cultivating awareness. The awareness to notice and look at your life in a manner that’s holistic to you.
Take a step back and check in with who you want to be for the people in your life, your work, your organization, your community, and anything else you’d like to consciously devote energy towards. Are your choices and actions in line with who you want to be?
I am committed to cultivating mindful self-awareness in the smallest and largest ways in my life, and sharing what has made a difference for me with you.
Try it on. Your way.