People often come to coaching saying “I am really stressed, completed overloaded and I want to make time for myself/get some stuff out of my hair – then I will feel better”. In OT we also recognize this, be it the cry you hear yourself making, or your clients/service users who are looking for healthier occupational balance.

As a coach and having been a human being for quite a while now, I have noticed the glorious way, that nature deftly fills any gaps or spaces we try and create! You know how it goes – you cross out a ½ day in your diary for admin or catching up with notes but “things” creep in and suddenly that ½ day has shrunk to ½ hour. Or you finally finish a big piece of work or drop to part-time hours, but having looked forward for to the “extra” space you should have, you find yourself just as busy and those Salsa classes or that business plan still doesn’t happen.

We can put this down to self-sabotage (too many reasons not to do something, especially good activities that will make us well, happy or less stressed) or perhaps a need for firmer boundaries, but I would also make a case for not trying to create a gap for something unless you fill it beforehand, with the thing you really want to do! Time will shift around regardless and putting the nice or helpful thing first, will mean you can approach the rest of the day knowing you have at least have done something “good/helpful” already. If you wait until there is a space, or you have more time, forget it – we will always fill the time we have, so we might as well fill it with some good stuff, first!

This particular example can be greatly helped by habits and habitual activity patterns. Think of MOHO and how important habituation is for human beings. But also think how we can underestimate how difficult it is to make habits and also break unhelpful ones. I’m really good at habits like starting the day with emails that lead me to other things that weren’t on my “to do list” and getting to mid-afternoon realizing I haven’t done anything “meaty”. I am also really good at looking up references online, getting distracted and finding the morning gone. Pressfield (2012) in “The War of Art” notes that the greatest resistance we feel, is usually in relation to the following:

1) The pursuit of any calling in writing, painting, music etc
2) The launching of any venture, especially if it aims to help others
3) Any diet or health regime
4) Any program of spiritual advancement
5) Any activity who aim is tighter abdominals (ROFL)
6) Any course or program designed to overcome and unwholesome habit or addiction
7) Education of any kind
8) Any act of political, moral or ethical courage or taking a principled stand
9) Any act which involves a commitment of the heart….

As a profession (OT) that aims to do much of the above, we need to really figure out what helps people change unhelpful habits and form new ones – Coaching has much to teach us and OT has much to teach coaching. J