As you scroll through your social media feed, you can’t help but look at your friend’s picture-perfect holiday family photos followed by another mom’s post about volunteering at the school’s winter festival and another’s delicious double chocolate chip cookies ready for the local bake sale. You think “How do they have it all together?”
Kim Senn thought the same thing, but when she was asked to speak to a group about “strategies for balancing work, family and life,” she realized that people thought she had it all together as well. Truth has it, she was struggling with a life that felt completely chaotic and out of control.
This idea of work-life (and family) balance is flooding bookshelves, blog posts and business articles, stressing the importance of separating one’s work life from their personal life as if the human brain can function as a light switch.
But the ability to seamlessly shift from one part of one’s life to another is incredibly difficult, and the increasing reliance on technology (yes, I’m talking about you, email inbox) only makes it harder for humans to completely shut off certain parts of their lives throughout the day. If that isn’t enough, the societal ‘expectations’ to say ‘yes’ to every volunteer opportunity, board member position and fundraiser leaves your already busy calendars completely booked. Before you know it, the chaos of daily life has you feeling as though life is happening to you.
“Chaos sometimes feels like it’s a habit. You start saying yes and you can’t stop, so you are used to being chaotic. So when there is a day you don’t have anything planned, you fill up that day with things just to make it seem like you are productive. But you really aren’t filling up the day with things you necessarily want to do.”
So how do we take back our calendars and realize what we really want to fill our days with?
Kim, illustrator, designer and entrepreneur, dug deep into this idea of ‘balance’ and how to live more intentionally by designing a life that makes you feel more alive. The outcome? Calm Within the Chaos – a beautifully designed toolkit that helps you assess, evaluate and eliminate the chaos in your life in order to incorporate more things that build energy and joy. Broken down into four steps, this self-reflective process is no joke and although there are some parts that you might find challenging, the result is a roadmap to designing the life you want to live.
Step One – Assessment
How will you be able to eliminate the chaos in your life unless you clearly identify what that chaos is? Kim takes you through a series of exercises that involves a ‘brain dump’ of everything that is going on in your life right now and then evaluating that long list by checking in with how you are feeling within five different areas of your life.
Step Two – Exploration
What parts or tasks of your day make you feel most alive? What fuels your energy (and what drains it) throughout your day? Kim helps you explore these questions and then challenges you to clean out your chaos by looking at the items from step one and deciding what you should keep, toss, re imagine or acquire.
Step Three – Reflection
Now that the evaluation is over, it’s time to start designing that life you’ve been dreaming of by identifying themes that kept surfacing when you evaluated the joyous and not-so-joyous parts of your day. Are there things that brought you either joy or a sense of anxiety just by writing them down? The reflection is is all about identifying those themes as well as limiting beliefs that are holding you back from doing more of what you love.
Step Four – Implementation
Time to put this work into action! This is when you decide to grow as an individual over time. Change won’t happen overnight, so the key to this last step is dedicating yourself to changing small habits one at a time. Kim helps you identify three potential areas of growth that are aligned with one’s values. It might seem like a long journey, but you can’t start unless you take the first step!
Sounds incredible, right?! Kim has a way of making you dig deep and really evaluate what you fill your day with, which is something we rarely take the time to reflect on. If you’re like me, there are too many days I treat like a checklist, rushing from task to task until it’s completed, only to feel exhausted instead of inspired and grateful at the end of each day. But this toolkit is nothing like a checklist and Kim stresses that this journey will involve prototyping, trying things out and adjusting where it is necessary. It’s a goal that will take some continuous effort, but the life you designed within the pages of Calm Within the Chaos is worth the work!
If you want to learn more about Kim’s design work, you can find her @sennandsons on Instagram and at https://www.sennandsons.com/. If you’d like to know about future Calm Within the Chaos workshops, follow @_calmwithinchaos on Instagram and learn more at https://www.findcalmwithinthechaos.com/.