My husband is currently reading (gasp! for realsies, he’s reading a book – he never reads) Dr Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
The change in him since he started reading this book is quite dramatic. I mean, I’m shocked that he’s actually reading a book for starters (yes it’s true, opposites do attract) and secondly, I’m blown away by the changes in him since he started reading this book…… two months ago, yes he’s a slow reader! But still…. the changes are astounding.
Sharpening Your Saw
He started talking about the concept of sharpening your saw and I was intrigued and fascinated by it, so I went and researched it a little more. In a nutshell….. it’s all about self care!
And our discussion and my subsequent reading on sharpening your saw made me realize that I’m actually pretty good at self care!
So what is sharpening your saw?
A woodcutter strained to saw down a tree. A young man who was watching asked “What are you doing?”
“Are you blind?” the woodcutter replied. “I’m cutting down this tree.”
The young man was unabashed. “You look exhausted! Take a break. Sharpen your saw.”
The woodcutter explained to the young man that he had been sawing for hours and did not have time to take a break.
The young man pushed back… “If you sharpen the saw, you would cut down the tree much faster.”
The woodcutter said “I don’t have time to sharpen the saw. Don’t you see I’m too busy?”
Sounds simple enough right? But in our busy lives of juggling kids and homes and pets and family and jobs and responsibility, it’s no wonder we feel like hamsters on a wheel, running out of steam and going no where slowly until we completely burn out!
Now I’ve had a complete mental and emotional breakdown and I never want to go back there! So I’ve obviously learned some of the tools of sharpening my sword, unintentionally but still.
Sharpen Your Saw – The Mental Dimension
Saw sharpening happens on 4 different dimensions –
- The Physical Dimension;
- The Mental Dimension;
- The Social/Emotional Dimension; and
- The Spiritual Dimension.
For the purpose of this conversation, I’m only focusing on the mental dimension, but here are the ways that I have learned to sharpen my saw:
I devour books. Everything from trashy romance and psychological thrillers that allow me to check out and relax, to memoirs and novels that challenge and inspire me.
I have a couple…. horse riding and my blog are probably the two most important ones for me. I’ll get back to my blog at a later point. But my horse riding gives me so much, aside from the fact that it’s a cross over because it falls into both a physical and mental dimension, its very important me time that I guard like a dog with a bone. It exercises both my body and my mind and it’s something I do just for me. It also focuses my mind and oddly while it is both stressful, especially since my nasty fall a couple of months ago, it also does wonders for my anxiety and mental well being.
Update Your Skills
I think changing jobs after 12 years forced me to take a massive leap in up-skilling myself. I was forced out of my comfort zone and required to learn a massive amount in a relatively short period of time.
But my blog requires that I up-skill constantly too. I remember when I started my blog, back in 2008, it took me an entire day just to create a free WordPress site and start the initial set up. I cried out of frustration the entire day and now here I am, creating videos, on Instagram, constantly looking for ways to improve, to be better, to create better and to keep ahead or at the very least, in line with digital media.
Time To Think
I know as an outsider looking in, I may seem loud and gregarious but I have two very distinctive and polar opposite sides to my personality. While I crave time with family and friends and people in general, I also thrive on quiet time. I need to be alone for a certain amount of time every day, just to think. To get clarity. To mull over thoughts and ideas. Thinking time is incredibly important to me and I think it’s one of the reasons I struggled so much over the holidays because there was literally someone with me every moment of every day and I had NO quiet, reflection time.
I am a stickler for routine and routine allows me to feel safe every day. My morning and evening routines are the same every day. My morning and evening routines are very important for my saw sharpening sessions. I get up an hour before everyone else at home in the mornings. This gives me time to sit on our patio, listen to the birds, sip my coffee, think and reflect and sometimes I even read, before the noise and the chaos of the day begins. It allows me to ensure there is a sense of calm to me before the requirements of the day bombard me. My evening routine is similar. I also usually stay up later than everyone else, either with a glass of wine or a cup of coffee and reading my book or blogging. Again, so very important for keeping my saw sharp.
While I don’t think I’m a naturally creative person, I find that doing something creative…. my blog, helps to keep the right side of my brain sharp. Which in turn, simultaneously sharpens the more analytical, problem solving side of my brain too. My blog, all the elements of it, from the ideas and writing to the styled photography, gives my soul something that nothing else does. It touches all my pleasure centers and gives me such satisfaction to see myself craft and create something, whether it be words or styled photos.
I think I’ve actually gotten really good at mentally sharpening my saw and self care.