Never Give Up on Gold Time

by Karen Morey

The concept of Gold Time is one I am passionately devoted to – and one I am usually frustrated by.  Over the years as a Best Year Yet coach, I have facilitated so many discussions to help clients recognize what constitutes Gold Time in their lives – the activities that are Not Urgent, but oh-so-Important.  The things that are so easy to procrastinate but, if attended to, will make the biggest difference in the quality of their lives.

My understanding of the meaning of Gold Time expanded exponentially when I visited Best Year Yet colleagues in the Netherlands and found that they defined Gold Time as the opportunities we give ourselves to recharge, refresh, and re-energize.  I realized that we Americans, who are all about “making every minute count” in the name of productivity, often use Gold Time as a reason to wear ourselves out and be even less productive!  Ever since my Dutch colleagues opened my eyes, I have been preaching to my clients about “Dutch Gold Time,” and insisting that Gold Time is as much about rejuvenation as it is about the next big project.

I could even be called an authority on Gold Time – but that is such a laugh!  I struggle as much as anyone with putting Gold Time into practice.  When it is 11:00 at night and I am frantically preparing for the next day’s meeting instead of getting a good night’s sleep, or when I am using my most productive time (the hours before noon) to read and organize the emails that have filled up my inbox, I am my own worst Gold Time example.

And yet, in spite of all the times I DON’T practice what I preach, I am aware that there are many ways I have shifted the way I am living my life to honor and make time for the things that matter most to me.  In the spirit of acknowledging my accomplishments (another Best Year Yet principle), please allow me to share a few of them, in case one of them might work for you:

  • Monthly and weekly plans – By sticking to the discipline of setting monthly and weekly goals, I can regularly remind myself of the outcomes I think are important this year, and get specific about the steps to achieve them.
  • Doing the “Big Rocks” first – Each week I identify two or three Important and Not Urgent goals and block the time on my calendar when I will work on them instead of all the pressing and endless details demanding my attention.
  • Morning walk – I have reorganized my morning routine to (almost) always include a 20-minute walk outdoors, which gets my blood pumping, gives me time to meditate, to review the day before, plan the day ahead, and notice the beauty of the natural world around me.
  • Prime Time – For the past few months, I have blocked out ½ day each week as “prime time,” where I step away from the computer, stop working (no matter what!) and find a comfortable place to read, write, or just think.  I’m not always successful, but when I do make it happen, it rejuvenates me!
  • Travel – I plan ahead every year for at least one international trip and several long weekend trips to achieve my favorite guideline, “Get out of town!”
  • Time with family – Connections to extended family are important to me, and I love to organize gatherings of relatives – whether it is for dinner at my house or a major retreat at a resort.
  • Breakfast with friends – Every Friday for the past 15+ years, I have enjoyed breakfast with three good friends.  It is often the only time we see each other in our busy schedules, but it has allowed us to stay closely connected and invested in each other’s lives.
  • Dinner with my husband – Several nights each week, John and I carve out of our separate and busy days the time to cook a real meal and sit down together at the table with a glass of wine and without television or newspaper.
  • Retreat – Every October, I go to the mountains with a small group of friends for a week with no agenda.  We take along our hobbies and books, and spend six days just enjoying time alone and time with each other.
  • Leaving the office for lunch – I find that this simple but intentional way to clear my head, provide some breathing space, and perhaps connect with a friend, is less and less common in our culture and therefore deserves to make the list!

I must confess that, as I write each of the items on this list, the voice in my head quickly lists ten other related things that I WISH I did but do not.  And, of course, that’s where the frustration comes in.  There are so many ways that I want to do better – to take on a new project, to exercise more, to play fewer computer games, to spend more quality time with my husband, to watch less mindless TV.  Isn’t that what we always do to ourselves?  We always think we should be doing better — achieving more, relaxing more, eating healthier, on and on.  And, we spend a lot of energy beating ourselves up over the things we are NOT doing.

So just for a moment, I am taking a break from all that self-blame.  I am celebrating all the ways that I do honor Gold Time and recognizing what it means to me.  Yet because it is so precious, I understand that I will always want more Gold Time and I will never give up; each time I consciously choose to eliminate an unimportant task to make the time for another activity that is important to me, I am making my life that much richer.  And that is worth the effort!

Karen Morey has been helping executive teams shift limiting behaviors and mindsets and achieve extraordinary results for the past decade. Combining the latest tools in planning, team development, coaching, and communications with her 25 years of experience in front-line management, she consistently helps clients develop strong, innovative, and focused teams that achieve breakthrough results.

Karen has a proven record of working with corporate leaders and teams to overcome their limitations and achieve their vision for the future. She leads them through the creation of a structured, results-based plan and coaches them to achieve and exceed the goals they have aligned on.

With 25 years of corporate leadership experience, Karen brings to her clients a credible, practical approach that builds high-performance teams, whether corporate or non-profit, large or small. She has worked with clients in manufacturing, financial services, medical systems software, and mail order distribution, as well as numerous local and regional social services and religious organizations. Karen specializes in an adaptive approach to coaching and uses a thought-provoking method of questioning that leads her clients to draw meaningful conclusions that can be readily applied to their personal lives and working environments.

In addition to her work with organizations and executive teams, Karen trains other facilitators worldwide to use the Best Year Yet system of planning, tracking, and follow-through with their clients. She has also designed and delivered training in leadership, performance management, customer service, and sales management. Learn more at www.resultscoaching.us or email Karen at karen@resultscoaching.us.