Zen and the Art of Life Maintenance

Why do we, women in particular, lie to ourselves about the time we actually have to do things? And why do we put off the maintenance of life? Now by "lie" I don't mean consciously so. I meet many women who are driven to achieve something but the foundations of their life are not strong enough for their dreams to take root. The maintenance of their life and work isn't there to sustain any of their ideas.

I know when things get messy or I put things off in my life, I begin to feel a baseline anxiety and pressure that I feel I carry around. I start to hurry, rush, and make irrational decisions that promise a quick fix. I crave sweets too - LOL!

I think this can also show up in taking way too much on, not knowing how much time you have to work on your biz (after the real maintenance of life is peacefully tended too), to debt, clutter, putting self-care on the back burner and so on. (I’ve done this all by the way and more!)

The maintenance of life are things like: filing, getting ready for taxes, paying taxes, restoring order in our office, in our kitchen, setting up simple systems to handle the stuff of our practice and of our life, taking care of the home and all that entails, setting rules of what’s okay and what’s not okay with clients and other people in our life, setting boundaries around our time, shoveling the driveway, even daily exercise (some of you have exercise thing down, and if so, it might be worthwhile to see what works for you there and how you could leverage it into the behind the scenes of your practice),... and so on.

bird on grass

This is the stuff of daily habits, routines, personal/professional rules, and boundaries.

My husband once said to me… "you either pay for this on the front end or pay in interest on the back end." You don’t care for your body now, you’ll pay for it, with interest, later on as you get older. You don’t handle your incoming mail, you pay for it with missed bills, late fees, and all manner of little dramas. We all know this intellectually, but yet, we put life maintenance off.

Yet I can think of many reasons why women in particular, seem to put this stuff off...

  • Were you taught to care and maintain your wellbeing in this way outside of beauty and appearance?
  • Were you taught this in school? School teaches stuff of books, not stuff of life.
  • Women are often taught to please, caretake and play a role that assigns value to making sure everyone’s needs are cared for before they care for themselves (of course, not always, but it’s pretty normal).
  • Culturally, American life applauds being busy, fabulous and reaching extreme levels of success. And maintenance is not at all sexy and somehow feels less important that pursuing all of that.
  • We're encouraged to be more, do more, learn more, especially in the entrepreneurial circles and end up chasing the next thing because that’s what’s considered valuable (heck, even my beloved PBS has "be more" as their tagline.)
  • The word “maintenance” isn’t sexy and much of what we’re talking about isn’t sexy, but it is the stuff that tends to create peace, a sense of readiness and projects a professional “I have my stuff together” vibe.

All of this makes it so easy to put off the maintenance of life.

I’m not making excuses, but sometimes it's good to see how you might have got here in order to consciously choose how you wish to be in life, going forward.

The foundations, the maintenance of your life is like a garden; when it’s not tended to, it causes lots of drama. And it’s simply hard to have a happy practice, or build an empire or delicious feeling lifestyle biz without tending to this. I dare say it simply won't work.

I know this shows up for me too. The iffy maintenance of my physical fitness, often shows up in my iffy maintenance of scheduling me-time (and then getting resentful when hubby does it regularly and without a hitch).  I'm so ready to make 2015 the year of letting that go!

So what about you? If you were to take a cup of tea’s time to sit, breathe and reflect about this, what’s your best guess as to why life maintenance (in any form) gets put off?

Is it a way of thinking? Is it a sneaking suspicion about what you might believe to be true or valued? Could there be a way to reframe whatever's there to naturally call your best self forward?

For me, when I paused to check in on this, it seems it was about "everyone else’s needs is more important than me." So I would put this stuff off because “oh it’s just me, that can wait.” Now I playing with “everyones needs are important and so are mine!” Corny, but hey, it seems to be working. :)

I’m curious how this lands for you. Share what you like, if you feel inclined to of course, and what you might want to move towards to. Thanks for reading!