Do you ever have one of those days where you are hiding from your responsibilities? From making that phone call or cleaning that bathroom or checking off the things on your list? I'm having one of those days right now. I have some BIG tasks that I would like to accomplish today but instead of feeling all pumped up and ready, I'm stalling. I've been on Facebook, did 'research' on an astrology site, paid my cell phone bill, fixed myself a snack, looked up recipes for dinner and pretended to work for about 23 minutes. In fact I'm stalling right now by writing this blog post.
It's already 9:52am - I should have been well into my 'real' projects by now. But I'm not. I'm hiding in my shell like a turtle.
This is a typical response to feeling overwhelmed and there was a time when I would have stopped right here, towel tossed in. My mind is cluttered up with 'have-tos' and 'shoulds' and 'musts' and I can no longer hear myself think. So I have shut down the factory.
But I've got the power to change that. Not by forcing myself to do things - because that doesn't make me any happier, it just makes me feel used and tired. I'm going to clean my internal house.
No - I'm not doing some weird cleansing diet...
Right now (or at least right after I post this up) I'm going to close every non-essential screen on my computer and take a few deep breaths. I'm going to spend the next 10 minutes doing a brain dump - I get out a piece of paper (yes, old school works best for me) and write down all the little things I think I need to do today. It will include everything from calling for my annual mammogram to repainting my toenails to getting that essential recording done, all of the big and little tasks that are scattered around in my head. Once that behemoth list is complete a funny thing will happen to my brain - it will actually work again. It's like cleaning out your purse or clearing off your desk.
All of a sudden you can find what you're looking for and you have a blank slate to write on. Just making the list is cathartic. The trick is to not try to do everything you just dumped. The power of the list is to release the pressure that builds up in our 'do more to be more' mentality. Honestly, I won't even look at the list again after I choose 1 or 2 things I really want to accomplish today. The point is to clear out my cluttered mind and start fresh and then all of a sudden actually doing things becomes more fun than sitting around hiding like a turtle.
Would you ever wear a pair of shoes (even for fashion-sake) that seriously didn't fit - like 4 sizes too small or large? There is no faking the fact that you're shoving your foot into a Cinderella's Stepsister moment. If they don't fit you don't wear them, right? Or if they are really really not your style - you don't even buy them. Well what about other things in your life that don't fit? Do you continue to do things the way others do them because it's proper or expected even when it just doesn't feel right?
My son has, well, erm, organizational issues. He's 11 so I'm not expecting everything to be all filed and categorized but at the teacher-parent conference it became obvious that he has issues. After going on and on about how smart and amazing my son is (**bragging), his teacher lead up to the moment when she says "But his desk area is a safety hazard". Not just his desk - the whole area surrounding his desk. Not just your ordinary messy. A safety hazard. And it's not the first time I've had to address the over-flowing piles of stuff that child keeps in his desk. He's a repeat offender.
We tried several different techniques, special folders and filing systems, bringing every loose paper home each week to sort through - really all of the typical organizational tools used by professionals (totally making that up like I know what I'm doing there). But nothing was really sticking. Organizing appeared to be his Kryptonite. And then one day he saw a box and decided it was the perfect size to fit under his desk. Waiting for the box to just be another place to shove things into, low and behold if his solution didn't fix the problem. He puts his spiral notebook and a couple of text books into the box which gives him more room on top of his desk so the piles are manageable. It also gave him more wiggle room inside of his desk so he can put papers in without shoving them into oblivion. His solution was different from anything we had tried and it worked because it was HIS solution. No one else in the class has a box under their table. No sane mom would suggest their child keep a box under their desk. But it was the solution that worked for HIM.
See the shoes his teacher and I were trying to make him wear weren't his style. We knew they would fit but he just wasn't feeling them. He had to do things his own way for it to come together. I can write one example after the next about successful people who march to their own drummer but few of us actually take the initiative to step outside of the box and do things our own way. Because you're told to make a business plan does it mean you have to write all corporate-like and add charts and graphs and stuff? Well what's the purpose of the plan? To inspire you and give you a road map. How about actually drawing a road map with pictures? It's not how it is supposed to be done - and that's the beauty. If you're supposed to have dinner before desert what would happen if you didn't just once? What if you wore black shoes with a brown purse? The horror of not matching!
We all have within us a different way of thinking and processing and it's a travesty when we suppress our answers because they are unexpected or different. We do ourselves a great disservice by doing things by the book every time (okay - disclaimer: do not try this with the IRS or Law Enforcement). But what if Steve Jobs had suppressed his unique way of thinking? Einstein? Columbus? Mother Freaking Theresa? Or even my son?
So think about the purpose of the task in front of you - what result do you want? And then imagine how you'd really like to get there, not how other people tell you to do it. Wear shoes that not only fit but that you can rock out in and be a Cinderella not a Stepsister.