We’re back with Part Two of our interview with Life Coach and Author Kate Swoboda.
(If you missed it, Part One can be found here)
I know you don’t believe in the possibility of “balance”. We’d love to hear a better way to approach life as opposed to this mythical “balance”?
When people are talking about balance, they’re usually talking about parceling out their lives in some way so that everything fits—so that they are taking care of their health, their relationships, their career, their family, etc., in such a way that there’s no one area that isn’t feeling good.
And yoga? Let me tell you a secret—just about everyone thinks they “should be doing more” yoga. It’s the #1 thing that a client says to me when they talk about wanting to live a more balanced life.
I say that I don’t buy in to the concept of “balance” because I see it as synonymous with striving for perfection—and we all know how well that works!
So, okay—what’s an alternative? Do the shit you want to do. Prioritize it. Say “no” to the rest.
If you’re already thinking, “I can’t say no to things,” then take out a piece of paper, and figure out a way to say yes to them, or to get them out of your life. “Saying yes” doesn’t always mean liking it. Sometimes “saying yes” means choosing not to hate it, or to hate it a little less. Those are forms of “saying yes.”
If that seems like a cheesy exercise, consider that that’s resistance. You only get this one life. The seconds, minutes, hours are ticking away. There are two ways to live: happy, or unhappy. Most of the time, we do have a choice. Somehow, some way, we can shift things—even if we just shift them an inch, that’s one inch of freedom, gained.
By outside measures, I live a “highly unbalanced” life. I am training for a marathon, my house is pretty messy (not dirty!– but messy), I’m running a business, I’m in graduate school to get my Marriage & Family Therapy license, and there are problems such as email server meltdowns.
And: all of that is my choice. Sometimes I resent the choices I’ve made, which means it’s time to re-evaluate them and do what I need to do to shift around that.
And in that vein of “balance”, talk to us a little about “planning time” vs. “time management”.
(( I don’t know what the difference is between these))
You recently wrote about relationships. Can you please share your thoughts on how to make relationships work?
Lots of vodka.
Kidding! ;-) (Yes, it’s okay to print my joke, if you wish. It’s good to have a sense of humor).
Making relationships work is about a ferocious commitment to love—loving the other person, loving yourself, loving the connection you have between you.
The tricky thing is that being in relationship will bring up all your stuff. Think you’re a grounded, patient, endlessly compassionate person? Go live with someone for three years; then talk to me. All of my ideas about who I am seem true until my partner has had a wiggly night of sleep and has woken me up, five times on the hour.
The best choice I’ve ever made was to view my relationship, and who I am in it, as an opportunity to grow. As long as I’m growing, things are good—even when things are “bad” because we’re pissed at one another.
What do you do to take care of yourself?
Well, I do the stuff that would make the usual list—watch what I eat, exercise, make sure I get enough sleep, drink water. Yadda yadda yadda.
But really? Self-care is about living life the way you want to live it, in whatever way is living with integrity for you. I just don’t compromise things like sleep, or making a day trip just for fun, or watching tv if that’s what I feel like doing. When the problem is not my schedule but the inner critic voices in my head, I just don’t sit with that for very long before I’m pro-active about asking myself what’s up, or reaching out to my tribe for support, or getting a session with my own coach.
It goes back to the “Do the shit you want to do” principle. I trust that, most of the time. How does someone learn that trust? By doing it “wrong” over and over, and re-calculating and recalibrating until getting it “right.”
Some of the best advice I read from one of your digital offerings (Courageous Living Guide) was to “Slow Down”. What can you tell us about slowing down?
Just do it. Make the choice. Where are you trying to get, so fast?
When we slow down, the answers come. People talk about being “confused.” I see confusion as a symptom of not slowing down enough. When we take time with ourselves, the answers come. It’s a state of mind more than it is literal slowness or even literal stillness (though both of those do help).
Again, I know someone might read that and think, “But I don’t have the time!” and think that I have some kind of cushy life where I have all the time in the world. (I assure you: between graduate school, a business, a teaching professorship, training for a marathon, prepping for speaking engagements, etc., I don’t!).
“Slow down” is a mentality. Sit in stillness, first thing in the morning. Be present when you’re driving to work—listen to an audiobook by a spiritual master. Take five minutes to sketch or read over your lunch break. Have an impromptu dance party.
If that sounds overly simplistic, consider what part of you resists those possibilities. What if simple is where it’s at, and “big glowing a-ha moment” is drama and illusion?
You recently took a sabbatical – can you please tell us what led to your sabbatical and what the results of it were?
I love it—now I get to out myself.
I wasn’t practicing my own tools! I was overwhelmed. I had launched The Coaching Blueprint, which is my e-program for coaches who want to learn how to build a practice, and I’d worked crazy hours on it, always telling myself that I’d get a payoff, later—take some vacation, a big break, etc.
I didn’t do that. I didn’t prioritize. The Coaching Blueprint launched and suddenly there was more web traffic, more email, more requests, more more more. It was unexpected. It was overwhelming. I yearned to take a break, but was afraid to—after all, hadn’t I worked that hard to experience that success?
I decided to practice courage—I took 30 days away from the internet. At the beginning of the break, I wrote out everything I thought I wanted to do when I returned.
After thirty days of meditating, not being online, etc., I found that I didn’t want to do any of the same things—launch new stuff, write more for other places, etc. I just wanted “to be.” I also knew that that was okay.
When we slow down, and really ask ourselves what we want, and then we have the courage to prioritize that, life changes pretty radically.
What are your top “reading” recommendations for living courageously?
- There is Nothing Wrong With You by Cheri Huber
- When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron
- Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes
- The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
- Loving What Is by Byron Katie
- A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson
And your top reading recommendations for creativity and writing?
- Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
- Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott
Share with us the best advice you’ve ever been given.
Accept what is.
Find Kate on the web at: YourCourageousLife.Com.