I used to work in a shoe shop and, although, I would only work during holidays, I would occasionally be involved in the stock take. A stock take is a methodical appraisal of what you have at any moment in time compared to what you think you have - identifying discrepancies between your inventory and the physical goods you hold. We use the phrase ‘taking stock’ as an expression to describe the moment where you assess the situation, working out where things are.
In my job I counted shoe boxes, checking that the shoes inside were a pair and reflected their box display, then checking back to the warehouse tally - seeing whether the two matched and flagging up any disparity to a manager.
We sometimes think we know how things are in our lives, and where we are. Yet what we think and feel about how things are, and the facts and figures behind it, can be two quite different things. We spend more time than we realise watching the TV or on the phone. We have a skewed view of our relationships because we are finding things tough or we are creating the kind of scenarios that allow us to be all about that person, or this one. We kid ourselves about how many biscuits we actually ate.
So I have a little challenge for you to this Sunday Brunch: to take stock in your life.
A useful way to begin is to think in names and numbers, much like the shoes. Each style has a name and a size (and, for children’s shoes, a width as well).
I’ve taken one area - relationships - and set out some questions to get you going. When I did this exercise myself, it was revealing. You might want to do this over the course of the next week, or you might want to take some time now to have a go. Sometimes you might have to do a little considered estimating, but give it some thought.
Don’t forget that you speak to people on the phone and you can include email and texts as well, if you want to get into the real detail.
I spend X hours a week with work colleagues I spend X hours a week with my family I spend X hours a week on my own I spend X hours a week meeting new people I spend X hours a week with friends from…. I spend X hours a week with people from….
[add in your own here]
Is this what you thought was the time you spent with each of these groups? Are you content with how things are or has this surprised you? If you want it to be different, how do you want it to be different? Ask yourself who you would like to spend time with? If you can’t identify people already in your life, what characteristics do the people you’d like to spend time with have?
I want to spend X hours a week with work colleagues I want to spend X hours a week with family I want to spend X hours a week with….
I’ve picked relationships as a part of your life to start with but you can stock take for all areas of your life, for example, food (eating and preparing), exercise, environment, time or money. Just think of the numbers and the names.
When you’ve taken your stock and identified the areas to change, a good question to ask is: What do I want it to look like?
This might be just an adjustment. In the relationships example, you might want to add more hours spent with one person and subtract how much time you spend on your own.
Or it might be a bigger change - such as changing your job or leaving a relationship.
A stock take is about matching what the books say to what is on the shelves, ensuring that what you THINK you have as stock isn’t misaligned with what IS in stock.
Our lives are the same. And where our lives aren’t as we want them, when we desire something different, when we want more happiness, more love, more money, less stress, we have to move forward from our current position. Sometimes it’s about making major changes. Sometimes it just needs an adjustment.
We may have to redirect our efforts. We may have to write off some loss or sell off some extra. We may have to call together our closest friends and ask them to help us. We may have to bring in the community.
How about taking some stock today?