Sick days and life planning


sick (Photo credit: jungmoon)

Today was a sick day.  Now I’m not sick very often.  This was my first since May.  The last time I had a cold was October of 2010.  I remember it well, because it was a doosie, I was delivering training, and I couldn’t take any time off.  Usually, the only “sick” time I take is for doctor’s appointments and tests and the last time I took more than a day off was when I got hit by the car (funny story that, remind me to tell you sometime), or when I had surgery.

This, of course, got me thinking.  To work, and to do your work well, you have to be healthy.

I’m not the epitome of health.  I’m overweight.  I smoke.  I drink on the weekends.  I eat junk food more than I should, and I don’t exercise as much as I should, but I do what I can.  I walk every day.  I generally eat healthy food.  I get enough sleep (though I think I could use more), and I manage stress to the degree that I can.

Still, I have to take the odd sick day.

One of the things that I took the opportunity to do today was to read Michael Hyatt’s “Creating a Life Plan.”  Michael wrote it based on his own experience in life coaching and in cooperation with Building Champions.

Now this experience took me back a few years.  There was a time, a long time ago, that I was in “seeker” mode.  I read Stephen Covey, Anthony Robbins, Elizabeth Hay, and dozens of other books, then classified as “self-help,” in an attempt to straighten out my rather messy life.  I made a personal constitution. I worked out a weekly schedule.  I was going to FIX MY LIFE.

I learned a couple of things in the process.

1. I’m a person of habit rather than a person of plan. 
I am very habitual.  I generally do the same things every day, at the same time.  I’m organized.  I’m disciplined, but write it all down, and I’m useless.  Don’t get me wrong, I make lists of important things I need to remember, and I keep my calendar updated with events and appointments, but I can’t schedule my day to within a minute of its life.  Stuff happens and I’m a creative kind of person.  If I tie myself to a schedule, I inevitably fail to meet some of my obligations, and when it’s in writing, it becomes a permanent testament to my failure.  I’d rather set goals and achieve them, in my own time.  And usually, I get things done before their respective due dates.

2. I’m my own dog.
I think that was an old “Spuds” Mackenzie saying, but I’ve found it to be true.  I generally find my own way, and though I may try everything (at least) once, what works for everyone else doesn’t necessarily work for me.  I let experience inform my life and decision-making process.

Having said all that, there was a lot of value in Michael’s .pdf book.  It reminded me of the things that I’ve done and the progress that I’ve made on a personal level.  Most of what I’ve learned has become internalized.  Frankly, I’ve come to take it for granted.  “Creating a Life Plan” made me aware that I do have a life plan and that I need to be more conscious of it, to honour it, and to ensure that I’m still in tune with it.

It’s important to keep your priorities straight.  This is one of the first steps in creating a life plan: knowing who and what is important to you.

Personally, I prefer the idea of a pool to a hierarchical list.  I know what’s important to me, and more significantly, I know why it’s important.  But life doesn’t often allow for rigid prioritization.  I can’t always put myself ahead of my spouse.  We’re a team, on par.  When my mom needs me, she becomes the priority.  So I’ve identified who and what is important to me and we all float in a pool together.  If I notice someone’s struggling, I toss a life jacket, or at least a pair of water wings.

Once you know what’s important, then you take each item, articulate why it’s important, set a goal for future achievement, describe where you are now, and create a plan to get you to point B from point A.

Finally, you set aside time every week, quarter, and year to review your plan and ensure you’re on track.

I think this last was the most valuable piece I got from Michael’s book, and that’s to make time to review, be conscious of your plan, and to be able to make adjustments as you go.

If you can get your life plan in order, then work becomes a lot easier to manage.  You’ll find you have the flexibility you need to stay on top of your projects and ensure that everything gets done, and done well.

English: Michael S. Hyatt, Thomas Nelson, Inc.

English: Michael S. Hyatt, Thomas Nelson, Inc. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I do recommend “Creating a Life Plan” and Michael’s blog, Intentional Leadership.  He’s got all kinds of good stuff: videos, podcasts, free documents with subscription.  I encourage you to check it out.

In the meantime, I’m heading to bed.  Still not feeling up to snuff and I have to rest up for tomorrow.