shifting sand learning to trust your systems

If you’ve stood at the edge of the ocean with your feet tucked into the sand, you know two things for certain: 1.) you’re extraordinarily lucky for the experience and 2.) it’s entirely possible to stay standing while the ground beneath you moves.

To put a finer point on it, you’ve known wonder and strength, intimately entwined. The water swirls, the sand shifts, and yet balance prevails. The dance is familiar and it’s easy to see similarities reflected in our own lives.

In particular, the way we look at the glorious 24 hours offered to us each day.

Do Productivity Differently

We can do productivity differently if we take a few lessons from the sea and sand. We can aim to balance being productive with being good to ourselves. And, we can start to feel good about it by taking charge of the choices we make, even with uncertainty as a companion on the journey.

What Shifting Sand Can Teach Us About Balanced Productivity

Lesson 1: Embrace the Unknown

Every wave that touches the shoreline is different and, standing in one spot for just a few minutes, you might experience everything from waves that barely kiss your toes to ones that nearly wobble you right off your feet. Much like life, we never quite know how the day will play out and what types of waves await us, and yet we believe. Simply choosing to get started each day is a bold act of faith – in ourselves and in others. We don’t know what’s coming and it doesn’t matter because our systems are both solid and resilient. What systems you ask?

Lesson 2: Trust Your Systems

When waves cause you to wobble, you inherently know exactly what to do to rebalance yourself.  It requires little thought because you’ve practiced being upright for most of your life and are now simply tasked with repeating that same behavior under new conditions.

We get similar types of waves crashing into our schedules every day. The trouble lies not in the waves, but in what we’ve practiced. One of the foundational elements of balanced productivity is the power of choice. It’s a practice of choosing again and again to make space for your highest priorities, the commitments to people and responsibilities that absolutely need to be shatterproof. Practicing creates the system which results in the confidence to make tough choices. And, those choices help us to quickly adapt to the urgency and busyness that presses in on us each day. Solid systems with our core priorities at their foundation, are built for the wobbly moments. You’ve already done the hard part in defining what matters most and the practice of protecting space for it. So, when the waves come, that habit is already strong and ready to be called upon so you can withstand the wobble and recalibrate yourself.

Lesson 3: Look Up

Without a strong practice of prioritization, it can be easy to find yourself reacting to each and every wave as if it’s the most important thing in the moment…because it often is. As much as you’re able, encourage yourself to look up. See the current wave as part of the whole picture. What seems overwhelming can shift to manageable in a moment when placed in the context of the larger picture.

Lesson 4: Eyes on the Horizon

I love a good to-do list as much as anyone. They’re an essential piece of planning and certainly have a well-deserved place in my time management toolbox. That said, I prefer a to-be list when I’m thinking of bigger picture progress. When you think about the picture of where you are now, how is it different from the one you want to see in three months? Six months? This time next year?

Beyond the achievement-related goals you might have for the future, how do you want to feel? What will make you swell with pride? What words describe the future you? That’s your horizon and keeping an eye on it as you work the steps of your plan, helps you stay on track, moving ever closer to your ideal.

Embracing the Shift

So, here’s to the shifting sands that teach us to welcome uncertainty, trust ourselves, broaden our vision, and remind us to believe fiercely in our own strength and resilience.

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