Recovery Workshop: Lesson Thirty-Five
Health Monitoring II — Daily, Weekly
As you will no doubt hear many more times over the next few months, Health Monitoring is an evolving, fluid process. The purpose of the daily monitoring is to allow you to ingrain focus and deepen your awareness of those practical values that you have made a priority. This is done mechanically at first, through daily ritualistic assessment, but should evolve to a more natural, ongoing assessment as soon as possible. If, after four weeks you find yourself continuing to require a mechanical tool to assist you with 'Increasing my emotional vulnerability by initiating a meaningful conversation with my wife each day.' — then something is wrong. Your goal is not to achieve success in completing this task each day...it is to ingrain the awareness that this task needs to be completed. That opportunities to engage in these values must be sought.
And so, if you have completed the Daily Monitoring as outlined in Health Monitoring I, it is time to evolve that monitoring to the next stage.
When you first began daily monitoring, you were asked to maintain an awareness of ten to fifteen areas that were important to you. Think of that assignment as receiving a vaccine that requires an initial high-dose booster, followed by a steady, low-dose supplement. If you have done what was asked of you, you have now completed the initial booster. Continuing to receive such a high dose would be detrimental to your health and so, you must now reduce your focus to those areas that currently require extra attention. Typically, this will be one or two items on any given day.
Evolving Your Daily Monitoring: Stage Two
From this point forward, you will no longer be using the monitoring process you have been over the past month. Additionally, you will no longer be documenting your efforts in daily monitoring (for those who have been). What you will be doing is this:
- Choose a single, specific area of your life that you would derive additional meaning/value from strengthening.
- This area will be actively monitored for NO MORE THAN seven days. Typically, 2-3 days is all that is required
- This area needs to focus on positive development, not avoiding something negative. For instance, "I will not lie today" would be replaced by "I will seek out opportunities to share myself openly and honestly"
- This area needs to be open-ended. For instance, "I will meditate thirty minutes each day" is closed. "I will seek out opportunities to experience calmness, concentration and/or a sense of spirituality throughout the day today" is open.
- Use your Proactive Action Plans as a guide for choosing. If you did those right, you already know the 'next steps' for developing the values that are important to you
- Once you have chosen an area of development, write it down and place it somewhere where you will see it first thing in the day. A bathroom mirror. A bedpost. Your steering wheel (for those who go to work early).
- This must be in writing and visible. Do NOT simply type it on your computer.
- It should be stated in the following, "Today, I am going to look for opportunities to "________________________"
- An example, "Today, I am going to look for opportunities to choose the healthiest option that is available to me." For instance, if I am in a building and I have the opportunity to take either the stairs or the elevator, because I am actively seeking out such opportunities today in the area of development, I will take the stairs.
- Throughout the day, LOOK for such opportunities and take advantage of them. This second stage of Daily Monitoring isn't a game that can be played 'when you have the time and energy'. It is a developmental tool that teaches you priority and awareness. When you settle on something to strengthen, place that above and beyond your 'normal day'. Treat it with a special reverence.
- At the end of the day, take about thirty seconds to ask yourself the following: "Did I actively seek out opportunities to develop the area that I was focused on? Or was it more a case of 'out of sight, out of mind'?
- Once you have asked yourself this, let it all go. Whether you took advantage of no opportunities or ten, let it go. Begin the next day fresh as a brand new day to seek out opportunities to develop this area of your life.
Developing Your Weekly Monitoring
Daily monitoring is used for active focus and awareness. If it involves actively looking for daily opportunities to develop a particular skill — and your awareness of that skill has not yet been ingrained — it should be on your daily monitoring.
Weekly monitoring (and what will eventually evolve into monthly monitoring) is what is used to ward off complacency. These would be the issues that no longer require daily focus, but that could easily regress if not focused on at all for weeks at a time. These would also include those areas of your life that are more appropriate to develop, assess, monitor over an extended period of time. For instance, your parents live 2,000 miles away and you have typically contacted them three or four times each year. You value their relationship and have made it a priority to communicate with them twice a month. To monitor this on a daily basis is not efficient. To monitor it on a weekly basis is.
Whereas daily monitoring should takes place at the same time each day, taking no more than five minutes to complete...weekly monitoring can be less stringent. It does need to be completed each week — at least for the next several months — but the timing does not need to be exact. If one week you complete it on a Saturday and the following week it is a Sunday — that is not significant. Also, weekly monitoring should take you between fifteen-thirty minutes. If it is taking you less, your monitoring system is either not as well-defined as it should be or you are not being thoughtful enough in the depth of your assessments. If it is taking you longer than thirty minutes, you are being too detailed.
What Am I Monitoring?
For your weekly monitoring, there are four key questions that you must ingrain — as they will be used down the road in helping you to regain balance should that need arise.
Question #1: Over the past seven days, from what areas of my life did I derive the majority of my meaning and fulfillment. Think specific actions you experienced, not general ideals. "On Tuesday, I took out my guitar and just played for my kids. Took the time to teach them a few notes. It was meaningful to me." This, as opposed to...'music, kids...'
Question #2: Over the past seven days, where did the majority of my energy go? As in, was there chronic stress/pressure I had to manage? Were there any major traumatic events? Any intense emotional events?
Question #3: Given the meaning that I derived this week and the events I had to manage — how well did I do in maintaining emotional balance through healthy means? Were there times when my life management skills were inadequate and I ended up turning to artificial means (e.g. compulsive behavior)?
Question #4: Looking ahead to the next seven days, are there any significant events that I need to prepare for, so that I am not caught off guard? Deadlines, reunions, holidays, dates, etc.
Beyond that, monitor anything that is important to you. Your relationships, your health, your progress towards certain goals. Anything can go on your Weekly Monitoring as long as it is consistent with your emerging value system.
Lesson 35 Exercise:
1) Evolve your daily monitoring as outlined above. Post the first thing you will be monitoring in this way in your thread for feedback and, share where you will be placing the reminder. Do not wait for feedback to begin.
2) Create your weekly agenda. Post it in your Recovery Thread.