January offered a ton of insight into my personality, strengths and weaknesses. It also offered a strong base for establishing better sleep habits, which I am confident over the long run, will pay off in huge dividends.

For January my two intentions were:

  1. Get to know me. 
    1. Take a personality assessment;
    2. Identify 5 things that I truly enjoy doing; and
    3. Identify 5 things I do only because others expect me too.
  2. Improve my sleep quality.
    1. Obtain and wear an OSA sleep appliance;
    2. Go to bed at the same time each day; and
    3. Develop a bedtime ritual.

Overall I found my “Get to Know Me” actions were very helpful in establishing a foundation on which to build the remainder of the year.

Focussing on identifying things I truly enjoy doing gave me five (5) go to activities that I can insert without hesitation whenever I have some free time. Knowing that it these are activities that really hit on all the components of enjoyment makes it easy to allocate my time to those areas, without waffling over whether I should be doing something better with my time.

Throughout the rest of the year I am going to continue focussing on allocating more time to these activities, and also on identifying a few new interests that meet the requirements of that list.

Identifying (5) things I did strictly out of obligation was a great way to gain back some free time, and also eliminate activities that produced negative emotions. I feel like this is a valuable exercise to engage in on a regular basis. Moving forward I am going to try and evaluate my activities every few months to ensure I’m not allowing those types of things to creep back into my schedule and drag down my overall contentment.

The real kicker this month was the Birkman Assessment. Receiving the results at the end of the month worked out great, as I was able to look back on both lists of five things I had identified and figure out the “why” of both. When compared to my basic needs as identified by the test, it makes a lot of sense that the activities I most enjoy are either solitary or with a few close family members/friends. Nurturing these relationships and engaging on a meaningful level with those key people is where I obtain a huge sense of value, and furthermore, it turns out I actually NEED a very significant amount of that interaction to keep me operating optimally in other areas. This will be something I keep at the forefront of my mind when I am looking for places to spend my currencies of “time”, “emotional output”, and “money”.

Another highlight of the assessment was understanding that I do actually require a lot of time to think things through before I make decisions. Looking back on my career, this suddenly seems very obvious. I regularly spend my nights lying awake thinking through every possible scenario for various work commitments, so that when it was time to attend a meeting and make decisions I was prepared to provide what appeared to others to be a quick decision, along with articulation for my rationale.

When looking at that and my preferred pace of activity (which is low!) it really is apparent that continuing to work in such a high paced and fluid environment is contrary to nearly every aspect of my personality. As someone who likes to spend time thinking about decisions, this environment forces me to constantly think about work, which then creates a considerable resentment within me for the intrusion during off hours. But, the reality is, this is a scenario of my own making, I chose to pursue this career path while failing to recognize how much stress it was generating thereby failing to meet my basic needs.

Learning to recognize my strengths and identifying a career path that is consistent with those strengths is absolutely going to be necessary if I want to find any type of balance between my work and my personal life, and if I want to return to a place where I feel I am receiving value from my work equal to the effort I am expending.

In terms of improving my sleep. I am encouraged with the habits I established in January. My sleep ritual, although briefly interrupted by a bad cold, has been very enjoyable. I truly do feel more relaxed when I close my eyes to go to sleep, and much more prepared for sleep. By the time I go through all the actions included in my ritual, my mind is no longer racing from the days events or what is expected of me the next day, and I am actually able to drift off to sleep quickly. I highly recommend a sleep ritual for everyone, whether 45 minutes or even 5 minutes, it is a great way to let your body know that it is time for sleep.

Going to bed at the same time each night has also been nice. By making it a clear expectation, I feel compelled to stop whatever I might be doing to go upstairs and get ready for bed. This prevents me from getting caught up in household chores, work, or watching too much TV.

Utilizing the oral appliance has admittedly been challenging thus far, but I have been warned many times that it can take up to three (3) months to adjust to the appliance and see noticeable improvements in symptoms. So I am intent on being consistent in using it and giving it ample time to work!

Overall January has been a great start to the year, and these exercises in self assessment have opened my eyes to a number of other areas that I can examine for ways to improve. One month down, and I’m feeling very excited and hopeful for what lies ahead!

Next up: February’s Intentions!