August came at me with a vengeance. My client load was full, my mostly organized life was being met with the potential for a big change, and every single project I had either organized or said yes to were all due within a two week span.
While I (miraculously) managed to get every project done without double booking any of my clients (a feat in itself), I did drop the ball on some of the other administrative duties that are part of owning a business. I got behind in my bookkeeping. I wasn’t great at answering all of my DMs on social media. I was late in getting my business information over to an organization I had donated money to.
I felt these things happening as I made choices on a daily basis about where to spend my allotted time. The choices hovered around keeping my client responsibilities met and creating all of the presentations (so many presentations. At one point, my desktop was a sea of keynote decks).
This funny thing happened as soon as my last project finished—I immediately opened up my computer and hammered out all of the pressing things I had pushed off to the side. It was like my brain could finally make space for the things I had deemed less urgent.
Whenever you add anything to your life, it’s at the expense of something else. Most things work like this. If I decide I want to work on a handstand straddle press, a lofty goal for me, something else in my training is going to have to shift. If I choose to write a book, my attention will move away from other relationships as I focus on clarifying my thoughts.
This even happens when you move your body. If I lift my right arm up, the tension on my entire structure shifts as I lift my arm. How the tension shifts depends on a myriad of things, just like which aspects of my life or training are impacted when I add something in is dependent on a variety of factors.
This isn’t good or bad. It simply is. It does mean that when you make a conscious choice to commit to something, it’s important to look at your life and recognize that there will be an impact. Depending on the length of the commitment, the impact might be short lived. When I was working four jobs and finishing up my undergraduate degree, I knew that it was a temporary solution to paying bills that would (hopefully) shift once I graduated.
Alternatively, when I set up my schedule so that I could get up at 4 so that I could run, bike, or walk and do a full movement practice before I begin my day, I knew this was a permanent change that would positively benefit everything else I do. The benefit of getting up early outweighed the cost of going to bed early and qualifying for the senior early bird discount thirty years early.
Any new thing that takes time and energy means that energy has to be taken away from something else. And sometimes it’s difficult to weigh whether that energy cost is worth it, even if that thing will be beneficial in the long run.
How much you can add in until you feel like you don’t have any more space is an individual thing. Think of resistance training. Two people of similar fitness levels and physiques will probably have different max lifts on a random Tuesday. Why?
Because they might be at different places in their training program, or maybe one has been sleeping like a rock star while the other has been sleeping like a colic-y baby. Or maybe one of them is hungry and the other feels pleasantly full. Or one just found out her boss is demoting her and the other is having an uneventful day.
All of these things affect physical ability, and when you add in the fact that sometimes, for no apparent reason, you feel physically amazing and other times you don’t, whether or not you are going to perform at your highest level on any given day is up for grabs.
Similarly, different people have different capacities for how much extra space they have in their daily lives. And different things require more energy for different people.
Take my daily morning movement practice, for instance. This doesn’t require much energy on my part, other than in the doing. I don’t have any sort of internal debate about whether I am going to do it or what I should do. Because it’s an ingrained habit, I don’t think about it, I just do it, and because I worked out my aerobic schedule more years ago than I can count and I have a coach write my programs, what I’m going to do doesn’t take up any space, either.
Someone else who is just beginning their movement journey will have a very different experience. First, they have to find the space in their day and then they have to figure out what they are going to do. All of that planning, learning, and implementation requires more resources than the act of simply doing.
Conversely, when you take something away, you create space. When you remove a foot from the floor, you create space to move in a different direction. When you remove something from your life, you create space to add something else in.
My husband and I recently had the opportunity to move out of state. This is (relatively) easy for him since he has a steady income that isn’t reliant on self-generated output. For me, it requires a major shift in how I do things, since currently much of my income is tied to my physical location.
But I am hopeful that by letting go of the physical space, I am creating more space for something else, something that might look a little different but still feel fulfilling. I am trusting that by removing what feels like a critical part of me I am actually opening myself up to let something else take its place.
Not everything you do will be monumental or require much thought. Some things that are added in are deadline based, which is what got me thinking about this entire concept in the first place. How can you apply this idea to your daily life?
Before you say yes to anything new in your life, ask yourself how you feel when you say yes. If you feel resentful or put out in any way, ask yourself if the space that thing will take up is worth it.
Set a timer for 60 seconds. Explore how your body takes up space in a small area. How many ways can you take up more or less space? Notice how the experience of your physical self shifts as you change shapes.
When you add something new that is temporary into your life, notice how it impacts other aspects of your life. This can be a great way to gauge your upper threshold (remember, everyone’s threshold is different. Knowing your upper limit makes it easier to assess long-term/more permanent changes).
Set a timer for 60 seconds. From a standing position, lift one foot. Reach it towards the floor, as though you were going to take a step. Do this in several different directions. How does the reach of the foot impact your balance? How does it affect the tension in your structure? Are there any directions that feel foreign?
When you agree to a long-term or permanent change in your life, honestly assess if anything else needs to change. Is the new addition going to take up space that you allocated to something else you value? Or will the new addition enhance you in some way?
Sometimes, exploring concepts using physical expression creates clarity. Play with the ideas above, and remember to be kind to yourself when navigating hard decisions.