Cleaning Out The Attic

In my last post I described how I was on my way back to school to become certified as a coach. Not a sports coach, but a transitions and leadership coach. I’ve chosen the Hudson Institute of Coaching in Santa Barbara because of the strong recommendations I received as well as the caliber of people it attracts. I can now add another reason … Santa Barbara is beautiful, and learning in the sunshine under palm trees and redwoods is special.

The initial phase of the curriculum is a program called LifeLaunch. LifeLaunch is a 3 1/2 day program that helps one build a plan for the next segment of one’s life. This isn’t really

I wonder what is in these attics?
I wonder what is in these attics?

about coaching, but I believe it is important for a number of reasons:

  • Learn The Models – Hudson Institute has a wealth of intellectual property, and the LifeLaunch models are also highly relevant to their coaching methodology. By living in the models so deeply for this length of time, they become ingrained and we get the opportunity to assess if they resonate with us.
  • Meet The People – the faculty are really important. It is really necessary that you believe in their ability to guide you to success. Mission accomplished. What wasn’t apparent at the outset was how important fellow students would be. I think the answer to that is even more important than the instructors, as they are with you even more of the time, supporting, challenging, listening, participating. So the need to be with really high quality people has been validated.
  • Self as Coach – if I can’t coach myself, I’m not sure I would advise someone to allow me to coach them. This was a great program to be able to get a firmer grip on the wheel of my own vehicle.
  • Confirm The Plan – approximately 80% of the people in LifeLaunch stated at the onset that they wanted to pursue coaching. At the end of the program that number had definitely dropped a bit as others found that there were other passions that were calling them more. For me I found it affirming and am eager to pursue the profession.

The plan, however, revealed a few other things to me. The first is how important it is to have a plan when contemplating a transition of this magnitude. From an executive role to a coaching role. From leading from in front to leading from behind. From owning a business outcome to helping enable others’ outcomes. From energetically employed to entering onto a gradual retirement curve.

I learned that it is important to be intentional in my execution of this plan, and in order for me to do that I need to deal with some junk in the attic.

There are two piles.

First is, being intentional requires that I believe that I will succeed in each step of my plan. Those voices of self-doubt and other negatives we often have in our heads try to convince us otherwise. They need to be removed. They probably deserve being heard once in case they are actually alerting us to a pitfall ahead, but then they need to go. Like bats in a real attic they may come back, but eventually we will find a way to keep them out.

Second is a notion that came to me of “junk time”. Those more trivial activities we can go to when we are worn down or just plain procrastinating. There’s more important things to do with that time, or at least most of it. I constantly say I want more time for my wife Kendra, for family, for friends. I want more time to be artistic. I would like to contribute more in the community. I would like to make sure I get 7 hours of sleep a day.

Here’s the problem.

There isn’t any more time. We only get 24 hours in a day. We should use them intentionally. So I’m going to look at my junk time and see what I can claw back. There has to be leisure time, but that has to be prioritized as well. Instead of doing the crossword puzzle, perhaps a walk with my camera would be more rewarding. Instead of watching sports, watch sports while exercising or cooking or watch with friends and family.

Marché aux puces .... a.k.a. flea market
Marché aux puces …. a.k.a. flea market

In writing this I started to question this notion. Is watching sports really junk time? When I thought it through I think the answer is that one person’s junk is another person’s treasure. That’s why we have flea markets. And that is why I have stuff in the attic. Because what was once a good use of my time is now filling time that I could use to do what I really want to. It’s about living intentionally. Right now is a time of growth for me. Perhaps later I can treasure these activities again.

I don’t think I’ve fully considered this notion of living intentionally before. I think I have done some of it, but at other times am more in the mode of reading the need of the day and going to it (or allowing it to come to me), so I’d like to apply this at work as well. I’d like to be more diligent about starting my day with a plan and deciding what is truly important. I schedule time on my calendar so the things i really want to do get done, but I would like to be firmer about making sure I use it for its intended purpose.

I also want to be more intentional as a leader. I want to prepare for each meeting with a teammate in advance so we can use our time well and thereby save some time for connecting. I want to intentionally enter each meeting in a coaching frame of mind so that people’s jobs feel more enriched (and I get to practice!). I want to allocate time (lunch anybody?) to check in with teammates and share experiences.

What are your thoughts on these ideas? Is this notion of living intentionally valid? How about the whole idea of junk time? is there something there or is this just another way of trying to be more productive? What might be the downside? Do you have any experience with this concept? Any guidance to give?

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Ian Munro @

Ian Munro is a leadership and vitality coach with a primary passion for working with senior professionals who wish to improve their connection to and vitality in their career, or who wish to make a transition to a meaningful and rewarding retirement. His methods are focused on helping clients understand why they present as they do in day-to-day life, discover their authentic self and give themselves permission to build a meaningful and rewarding future, both professional and personal. Ian’s love for this work has developed naturally as he built his career as an executive and leader in the IT services industry, serving in many roles and facets of this industry over 25 years. As he reached the pinnacle of his career he began to search more deeply for meaning and alternate rewards from his own career and to begin to plan for his own “first retirement”.

14 thoughts on “Cleaning Out The Attic

  1. Years ago, as part of a course I was taking, I took a journey into my ‘figurative’ junkyard, examine what was or wasn’t needed any longer on my journey. As I was leaving I set the remainders in flames and watched it burnd. There beneath all that junk was a beautiful golden ball which I came to see as The Wisdom Circle.

    I still occasionally visit my junkyard just to keep it cleared out – and to add to the wisdom circle.

    Great post Ian. Can’t wait for a visit over a cup of tea!

  2. There’s a lot of meat in this post – lot’s to think about! Planning for meetings resonates with me because I don’t like wasting time in them. So planning, creating an agenda, tabling items that come up but don’t apply to everyone, etc really work for me.

    I like to be spontaneous with my free time. Perhaps sometimes it would look like junk time (If I’ve understood your post as it is meant) Although some of my free time is planned, i.e., a trip, a walk, time for writing, I also am a huge fan of not planning; listening, watching for what the universe is bringing today, seeing what adventure I may come across… know what I mean?

    1. Hi Diana. Thanks for the thoughtful response. This is exactly what I am debating. What is junk time? For me right now I feel I drift into certain activities and that “junk time” keeps me from spending time on doing other things that are important to me such as learning, spending time with family and friends, etc. But I love that you don’t have that same definition. For you unplanned time is a treasure. That’s a good insight for me.

  3. Wow! This is quite a mind-opening post on many levels. My thoughts.
    1. I agree with you about “time”. I laugh at some claims of being taught how to be more time-efficient (after you do what they say and there is still more undone…. then what?) Whatever way you look at it, there is still only 24 hours in a day. I think it is more how you prioritise what is important to include and, in that respect, if you need to find time for something new, something old has to go.
    2. The area I found most beneficial in cutting out was emails and text messages. I have gradually trained people not to send me unimportant emails. It has saved me a lot of time.
    3. Transitions are difficult for people. Often the past and its security has been lost, yet the future not yet cemented and so one feels in limbo-land of neither here nor there. This is a largely unrecognised difficult period. I applaud that you are taking the steps to be a coach in that area. I have always thought that being an example to others is a good starting point for a coach and I think that you are already there.

    As for the voices of self-doubt in your head…….. when you have conquered that one, please let me know as i could take a few ideas 🙂

    Happy journey in this new world. I am happy and excited for you 🙂

  4. I’ve very much enjoyed your last 2 posts and just getting the time to respond now. Which leads me into time…how to better budget your “time”, that is a million dollar question. In this world of distractions it is not easy. Being a PM I live by a schedule, meetings are definitely run with agenda’s and pre planning is critical to success. I like to be very prepared for anything I venture into so I plan 🙂 There are so many distractions in this high tech world we live in, e-mails, text, skype, FB etc. when I’m working on something that has a deadline I turn it all off for lets say an hour then do a 5 to 10 minute check in and move back to project until complete, it really helps me especially if it’s school work or a long project plan as examples.

    That said your concept of “Junk Time” interesting choice of words, I feel that we all need time for nothing or anything spontaneous…you make choices in your day and if you have entered into the choice to “watch the game” as example then do it and feel great about it and move on. I like to try and stay present be conscious of my decisions / choices “living intentionally” as you say. So I would have to disagree there are no times that are truly junk 🙂

    Continue enjoying this wonderful journey you are on.

    1. Thank you Heather! This does truly advance my thinking. I have thought about your comments on junk time and I think I can now advance a definition. Junk time would be time that, in the moment, we are not being intentional on how we use it. If we choose to watch the game out of all of our choices, then it truly isn’t junk!

  5. Ian – thanks for great reminders about being intentional. Over the weekend, what became clear to me is the stark contrast between being intentional and having good intentions. I cleared out a pile of magazines I had “good intentions” of reading, but of course all that had happened over time was that the pile and the sort of guilty feeling about never getting to them both grew. So, off they went into the recycling, leaving me more time and mindshare for more important and fulfilling things. Also sort of a clearing of the attic! Now to get after more of those piles…..

  6. Ian,

    I am so impressed by your introspective writing style! I agree that the notion of living intentionally is a valid one. The world we live in is filled with to many “to do” lists (for work, home, and family) that we must be intentional in order to make headway with being effective in life and to reach our goals. As for junk time, I’m in favor of having leisure time (me time for hobbies etc…) however, if junk time equates to procrastination, then I would reassess what the initial reason was for the intention. If junk time overshadows the time that one slotted for intentional time (e.g. I was to spend the next hour working on a project yet I got caught up reading news on the web) then it’s time to reassess the item that I meant to be intentional about. Is it really important? Do I really want it?

    I also agree that in order to be productive one needs to be intentional with their time, actions, and behavior. I like to think of this as managing my energy. Am I using my energy to support my goals? Do I feel better after doing XYZ or do I feel guilty? Am I in the flow while using my energy? Is my energy fueling my passion or depleting it?

    If watching sports help you to fuel your energy, then I say do it yet don’t feel guilty while enjoying!

    1. Thanks for the great input Chris. I like your thoughts regarding when leisure is valued and when it is junk. I think that best echoes what has been going through my mind. Leisure is definitely important. I think what is driving me right now is a lack of time and therefore I’m required to be intentional vs. allowing for unplanned pleasures!

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