Welcome to Work, Rest & Play: An A-Z of Wellbeing. Each post of my blog this year will form an A-Z of what I believe to be important tools, techniques, and tips on improving your wellness. The content will come from a variety of sources: my own personal experience, my coaching expertise, new research and science and tried and tested traditional methods. When I reach the end of the alphabet, I will be collating all the posts and using them to create a brand-new book – a go to guide on how you can work, rest & play to live a life of fullness and balance.
I am so excited to share this project and journey with you! Please comment below or on my socials to tell me what you find useful, your take aways from the posts and if you have your own ideas on what each letter represents – you may even be included in the final publication of the book.
So, here we go…A is for ACTION.
Be a dreamer. Be a believer. But most of all, be an action taker!
Planning, preparing, and dreaming are wonderful things to do. They take us into the future of what might be and how we want to live our lives. They hold potential and expectancy and can be invigorating in and of themselves. I’ve often written lists of hopes and dreams, ambitions and goals I want to achieve at the start of the year - keen with excitement at the mere sight of my thoughts solidified in black and white. I’ve filled many a notebook with my longings, created never ending Pinterest boards titled ‘Wishes’ or ‘Future Me’ and wistfully imagined myself many times living a life I desire (sat in a sun-lit Parisian caféwriting my latest best-seller, or walking barefoot along a beach of pristine white sand and crystal clear blue water).
But how often have these scribblings remained just that? Trapped between the pages of my journal. Caught and snared by my own doubts and fears. Their potential staying untapped, their purpose unfulfilled. How many times has the Pinterest board been long forgotten and replace by another titled ‘Cute Cats in Clothes’? And the daydreams? They soon evaporate in the cold light of reality or as Carly Simon sings “like clouds in my coffee”.
Thinking about something is not the same as doing it. Obvious, you may think, but how many New Year’s resolutions have been left as wishes? How often have the gym goals, health kicks, wardrobe overhauls and career changes remained as a page of meaningful scribbles in your journal?
And even more forlorn, are the hopes and dreams that don’t even make it onto the page. Held inside us, they are never given a voice, unrealised and lifeless.
I believe action is the antidote to lost hope, disenchanted dreams, and the fear we face in life. Activist and eco-warrior Greta Thunberg said “Once we start to act, hope is everywhere. So instead of looking for hope, look for action. Then, and only then, hope will come.”
The action I want you to consider is the ability to move in the right direction towards your dreams and goals.
Action is THE thing we must do to improve our wellbeing – and I don’t mean rushing here and there to get stuff done, burning the candle at both ends to avoid FOMO or the tantalising thought that “if I do more, then I’ll be worthy/valued/liked/loved!”
No, the action I want you to consider is the ability to move in the right direction towards your dreams and goals. There is energy in this kind of movement, not stagnation. It is not frenetic energy, but more a choice of doing, an efficiency in using your time and resources, moving with and towards your thoughts, and feelings.
The energy that comes from taking action creates direction, as writer Hugh Prather says, “Sometimes the only way for me to find out what it is I want to do is go ahead and do something. Then the moment I start to act, my feelings become clear.” This is also confirmed by thought-leader Marie Forleo. “Clarity comes from engagement, not thought.”
You see, we will oftentimes hesitate and become inactive. We play the “When Then” game. I have played this game many times: “WHEN I have more time, THEN I will write my book” and “WHEN I feel motivated THEN I will join a gym” and “WHEN I have more money, THEN I will launch my business.” We may be waiting for the perfect moment, to be the right size/weight, have enough money, live in the ideal location, or meet the person of our dreams BEFORE we take action.
But guess what? I had it backwards! You see, “WHEN I start writing my book, I will make more time” because it is important to me, and I am enjoying the process. “WHEN I join the gym, I will feel motivated” because I will see positive improvements and I will have more energy as a result of moving my body. And “WHEN I launch my business, I will make more money” because I will be working towards my business and financial goals. It is the act of doing that creates the results we are waiting for. Turn your “When Then” sentence around and see what that does for you and your circumstances.
When we take action, we take responsibility. We become people of integrity – doing what we say, walking the walk and taking ownership of the gifts and grace we have been given. Actor Bradley Whitford talks about action in terms of responsibility. “Infuse your life with action. Don't wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honour your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen... yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.”
Do not wait for life to happen TO you.
YOU are creating your life – YOU are happening to IT!
Is your action taking a muddy puddle or a sweeping river? A puddle may appear as a result of an external event, such as rain or snow. It does not tend to have motion, and can be stagnant and shallow – it just sits there waiting for a kid in a pair of wellies to make the most of it. In most cases it is an obstacle to be avoided and is short lived, usually disappearing when the sun comes out. A puddle rarely has a purpose. Whereas a river is fed by and feeds other water sources. It brings food, change and life. It can support others and has movement, energy, and flow. Even if it does dry up, it’s banks will still be sustaining many plants and wildlife. A river creates.
When we become like a river in our action taking, there is flow in our lives. We can choose, make decisions and are free. When we block this through indecision, doubt, and fear, we can stagnate and get stuck. I believe we were created from and for flow. Our bodies and minds are continuously moving us forward, and when we move too, our whole being responds.
Wellbeing is not simply about eating, sleeping, and living a healthy lifestyle. Wellbeing is about connecting to the flow of action in us and around us. Moving like a sinuous river by acting on our hopes and dreams, desires, and beliefs. So, aim to be more river and less puddle in your days. Do not wait for life to happen TO you. YOU are creating your life – YOU are happening to IT!
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, or on my social feeds - @iamsarahalexcarter I'd love to know what action you are thinking of taking and also what other things resonate with you when you think about wellbeing and the letter A. Let's work, rest & play well this year!