Boost Your Integrity by Slacking Off

It’s 6:30 AM on a Saturday, and I’m up writing. I’m taking 12 people through the pilot of my new Basics of Chinese Medicine course. We’re halfway through, but the course isn’t finished yet – I’m creating it on the fly: the equivalent of a 15-page paper once a week, recording and editing 30-minute lectures, shooting point location videos, making food lists, designing quirky quizzes, moderating our Facebook group, — every week, for 8 weeks. (Meanwhile, I’m still treating patients, parenting, spent a week at a conference in Mexico, etc.) And I’m loving it.

Yes, I want to walk my talk about living in balance. But balance doesn’t always look like everything in life getting an equal slice of the pie: it looks like ebb and flow. Right now, I can sense a deep rightness in intentionally letting the pendulum swing wildly in the direction of birthing this course. Yes, I could press pause and give myself some time to be a person, but I know I work best on a deadline. So I’m giving myself permission to shrink, yes, shrink my self-care: shorter meditations, letting my friends know that I’m in a work cave this month, 5 workouts a week instead of 7, in service of doing something big.

Seeing what I’m giving up, I’m more motivated not to do things I know are just time-sucks, like checking email.

My habits are the scaffolding that supports my life, but they need not be routinized ruts that prevent me from doing something really cool. Plus, they’ve carved such deep grooves that I can trust I’ll fall back into them.

It can be really easy to let that which is urgent trump that which is important. Important as in what’s really in our hearts to do. There will always be laundry, dishes, email, bills. That stuff never goes away.

Choosing to let something less critical slide a bit in favor of what’s deeply in your heart feels good. It’s also a powerful form of integrity when you align your values and your actions. It’s a declaration of autonomy that affirms your sense of agency and capability.

What’s most valuable to you today? Pick one or two things, max. Is it connecting with your kid, or a friend who’s struggling? Is it taking the time to nourish yourself with food? (Here’s how I fed myself yesterday, well and efficiently, in case you need some ideas.) Or making time to play, paint, or breathe? Let that be your priority, and let everything else fit into whatever space is left. If it’s not yet a habit, it will become one when you rinse and repeat. And if you don’t know what your core values are today, take the time to inquire within.

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