In our coalition work, we are constantly planning and hosting meetings, projects and events. Depending upon our time, staff/leader capacity and partner availability, these can have varying levels of complexity and require us to consider many factors. Last week, during one of these planning meetings, I came up with lots of ideas that would result in a tremendous amount of work for the team and likely make our meetings overly complex. One of my friends and colleagues graciously said, “Jennifer, you need to take your own advice.” As I reflected on this statement, I realized that this reminder may be helpful for you too! Join me this week as I provide three practices that will help us all “take our own advice.”
Schedule thinking time.
One of the practices that I began last year and am working to maintain is weekly “thinking time.” During this time, I spend time walking, reflecting and writing about my week. In these moments, I can consider what worked well or not so well and was life-giving and life-draining. This is the first step in my “Weekly Preview” that I do as part of implementing the Full Focus Planner system (INSERT LINK). This reflection time really helps me consider the advice I may have given to others and how that could apply to my own situations. This time also provides clarity on areas where I may be overstretched or overcommitted. As you consider your weekly schedule, where can you add some regular “thinking time?” Is it once or twice a week or maybe part of the end of each day? Look at your calendar and reflect upon when you would most benefit from investing this time. Then, block the time and honor that time block!
Write down your advice to others.
During your reflection time, take time to write down the kinds of advice you have been giving to others. One of the most common pieces of advice I share with friends and colleagues is the need to set boundaries with our work and to rest, relax and play. By writing this down, I remember the importance and need to also apply it to my own life! Whether you are giving advice on relationship building, strategic planning, community engagement, communication methods, evaluation approaches or recruitment, take the time to write down this advice for you to consider as well.
Find ways to put it into practice.
Once you have reflected upon and written down your advice, you can also write down areas where you want to put it into practice. If you struggle with coming up with ideas, check in with your team and they will likely be able to let you know! When we practice living our own advice, we can keep testing the advice (to see if it still works – or not!). This also helps us to live with integrity and authenticity that builds trust with our coalition members, partners and friends.
This process is more cyclical than linear. Once you have put the advice into practice, then you can reflect again on what worked well, what did not work well and how you would like to continue or change your approach in the future.
What about you? What is one of your favorite pieces of advice that you want to put into practice in your own life?