In honor of World Water Day (observed March 22) I wanted to write about water and other natural resource conservation…but I believe conserving our time, energy, resources is an even more important element of conservation that we tend to overlook all too often in our “busy” lives.
Our Valuable Natural Resources at Retreat in the Pines
Of course conserving and caring for our earth’s amazing resources – water, land, air, trees, native plants, and so on – is incredibly important. At the end of the day it does matter what you do or don’t put in the trash, how much water you consume, what things you re-use, where and how you shop, and so on… but all of these things start with one thing: you. If you’re not taking care of yourself, conserving your energy, your time, your resources… you’re probably not going to care or think twice about conserving resources that aren’t “yours.” I say this from personal experience.
Can you start conserving you? Here are some suggestions. And you’ll find the more you take care of you, you’ll have the energy and time for the things in your life that you you must do.
This isn’t a to do list. These are suggestions, find one that resonates with you and gently incorporate it into your life.
Where Does Your Energy Go?
How are you spending your precious energy? Yes, it’s renewable through self-care and taking time for yourself, but ideally you want to make sure that you’re spending your energy on things that actually matter to you.
Are you running your children to point A and point B and back again, just to keep up with the Joneses? Are you working/studying/living inefficiently, trying to do so much that you’re not doing anything besides running out of energy? Are you using your energy on something that you could have someone else do, either bartering, hiring or sharing?
Conserve Your Energy
First, start by examining those things in your life that drain your energy. Then, decide what you need to limit or possibly even eliminate. Do you have friends, family members, habits, or other regular encounters that leave you feeling completely drained…things that literally suck the life out of you?
Do you have a friend who always complains, someone who doesn’t really want to listen to you or invest in you like you do them? Maybe it’s time you limit the time you spend talking or visiting with that friend.
Is there a family member that is taking advantage of your resources, your kindness, and your good will? Maybe it’s time to think through and set some boundaries. I know it can be scary to speak up sometimes…but remember, the more you do it, the easier it gets.
Are you the go-to person in the office, PTA, or other group that always does everything because no one else steps up? It’s okay to say no. Saying no to one thing means you can say yes to something else, something that better serves you while still serving others. “I’m so sorry, but NO I can’t help out this time.” It feels good to say…try it!
How Do You Spend Your Time?
How are you spending your precious time? Probably one of the greatest mysteries of all time is time. Where it goes, no one seems to know…but we all talk about how fast it flies by.
Are you worrying about what’s going to happen or not happen tomorrow? Are you creating problems for yourself by imagining worst case scenarios or over reacting to small things? Are you so unorganized that every day is a challenge of finding your keys, your coffee cup, and your phone? Do you have the perfectionist leaning or control freak mindset (recovering, that’s me) where you have to do everything just so, or if you don’t do it, no one will? Maybe you plan to spend a couple of minutes on social media, and look up an hour later to wonder where the time went.
Then Let Go of Those Things That Don’t Serve You
Conserve Your Time
Think about the things that matter most to you – the things that ignite the fire inside your belly and make you want to wake up in the morning. You may have heard that worrying is like praying for what you don’t want. Whatever it is you’re worrying about, worrying won’t help fix it – trust me I’ve tried. Instead, try writing down things that you’re worried about as they run across your mind. Let the physical act of getting them out of your head be an exercise to let them go. Maybe pray or meditate for a moment on the process of letting go. Try to visualize yourself holding the problem in your hands, setting it down, and walking away. And if you find yourself still holding on, just keep letting it go. Then, for every worry that comes to mind, write down something you’re grateful for. Keep adding to the lists as things come to mind and watch as your list of worries gets smaller and your gratitude list gets longer.
When it comes to time, organization is one of my biggest challenges. Leo Babauta’s blog Zen Habits, saved my life. My daughter Nina introduced me to this internet gem and I couldn’t be more thankful. Check out his blog or any of his books, embrace the small changes of simplicity, and watch as your life begins to turn around.
If you’re struggling with endless lists of to dos, try writing down all the things that you think you “need” to do. Take an honest look at the list and determine what actually needs to get done. Then, think about the people in your life that could possibly help you with the other tasks. Maybe it’s your spouse, your children, your friends, or a co-worker. And maybe some of those things you “need” to do aren’t as important as you originally thought.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: just say no to social media or cable TV that doesn’t enhance your life. Say yes to music you enjoy, curling up with a good book or working in your garden. It’s the baby steps that add up.
Take Look at Your Resources and Where They Go
How are you spending your precious resources?
Are you aware of your income versus spending habits? Are you spending money on the latest fashions, decor for your home, or gadgets that promise to make your life easier, just to feel a momentary fix? Do you spend all of your hard earned income on a gas guzzling car? Do you find yourself eating and drinking out all the time? Are you giving to a charity that only contributes 20% of revenue to the cause?
Conserve Your Resources
Take the time to think through a budget. There are so many helpful resources to utilize for free – just check out Mint and Learnvest.
Take some time for yourself, preferably in nature doing something active (it boosts those awesome endorphins), and find that you don’t “need” so much stuff…you may discover that the craving is more of a want than a need.
Think about trading in your car for something fuel efficient, try sharing a ride, or something as simple as combining your errands into one trip.
Find joy in preparing simple and healthy meals at home and enjoying a bottle of wine from your local grocery store.
Check out your favorite charity at Charity Navigator to see how it’s rated for what it actually gives to the chosen recipients versus the amount of money it brings in. If the giving numbers are unacceptable, find another charity through Charity Navigator or contribute locally, to your children’s school or the local food pantry.
Women at January 2014 Yoga Retreat Enjoying a Weekend of Renewal and Healing
Savor Your Life
Take time for you. Yes you. You deserve it. On a daily basis, maybe a few minutes some days, maybe an hour other days, and take the necessary weekend here and there. Go to yoga or exercise class. Get together with friends (the non-toxic ones). Take a weekend away with yourself, maybe a yoga retreat. Make a gratitude list in your head at every stop light.
This is your life, your energy, your time, your resources.
Why would you want to waste another precious moment? Savor it. You’ll be looking back before you know it, realizing all the small things you couldn’t find time for, are the things that matter most.
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