When I first started working with a coach, I attended in-person retreats with my fellow coachees. Invariably, at some point during the weekend, our coach would pull out the legal-sized printout of a yearly marketing calendar.
<dun dun da DUMMMMM>
I would immediately start sweating. First, as a right-brained person, I have an allergy to color-coded spreadsheets. But it wasn’t just a temperament issue.
I also have a long-standing fear of planning. I’ve been gradually facing and easing this fear in the five years since this story took place, but let’s just sum it up by saying, planning does NOT come naturally to me.
I prefer to be moved by inspiration. To really get excited about something enough to spring into action, I’ve gotta feel it.
This post is for all the endurers out there. You know who you are: When your life starts going sideways, you hunker down and tell yourself things like, “I’ll get through this.” “I just need to hold on a little bit longer.” “One day, things will calm down and then I can relax.” Or, my favorite, “I can handle this.”
Listen, it’s a great thing to have tenacity; to be able to hang on during challenging conditions and come out the other side. Being able to endure is a strength.
The problem is that you can rely on your strengths so much that they start to become weaknesses.
You may be great at walking into a room and reading the energy of the people in it—so great that you then immediately launch into trying to make everyone happy, which is impossible and exhausting. And then you start wondering why you don’t want to be around people.
Or, you may be great at thinking critically. So great that at some point you stop taking in any new information because you’re so busy trying to poke holes in every new idea you hear.
“Hidden within every problem lies an opportunity so powerful that it literally dwarfs the problem.” — Albert Einstein
It’s only a couple weeks into summer temperatures here in Providence. And even though I’m swooning at the chance to pack away the sweaters and break out the sundresses, it’s kind of hilarious how quickly all the annoying aspects of summer have made their presence known.
Namely, the daily onslaught of wet towels and bathing suits that need hanging up, the numerous flies that find their way in to our house, and my hair, which takes on a whole new persona in the humid months—a persona named Roseanne Rosanna Danna.
I’m guessing you could pretty quickly name a list of things that are bugging you right now—whether they’re seemingly trivial (like frizz) or pretty important (like being owed money). How you deal with and think about these annoyances says a lot about your character and your energy.
Because here’s a truth for you:
The things that bug you aren’t here to drive you crazy. They’re here to help you grow. (Yes, even that thing.) (Click to Tweet!)
I hear women say, “I just can’t add one more thing to my to-do list” all the time. And while I get it—who wants to be busier?—that desire to have a shorter to-do list is keeping you from getting the stuff that matters to you done.
It’s all about the size of your tasks.
At one of the first writer’s conferences I attended over 10 years ago, one of the presenters used a metaphor that has stuck with me.
He said, “Imagine that your time is a big bowl, and your projects are rocks. A big project is a big rock, and a little project is a little rock.
If you put one large rock in your bowl, you might have room left for another little rock, but probably not. You’ve got to break your projects up into smaller pieces, and then you can fit plenty of projects in your bowl.”
Pretty simple, right?
Certain times of year are just busier than others. The holidays, for example. And also, spring. You can feel the unspoken urge to get as much planned and executed as possible before summer comes and slows down the pace. If you’ve got kids, there are seemingly endless end-of-year functions (I’ve already attended two this week, and it’s only Wednesday morning as I write this) and camp schedules to figure out. And if you are a gardener of any sort (I’m a novice but eager planter of things), spring is definitely go-time on the chores front—mulch, anyone?
I know how tempting it is to think that when you’re busy, you don’t have time to do things that help you stay sane. Anything self-care related can feel frivolous when your daily agenda is jam-packed. The irony here is that the busier you are; the more important downtime becomes. (I wrote more about this here.)
That’s when I know lightening has struck, because allowing yourself to think differently about something is always the first step in creating change.
Those a-ha moments are some of my favorite parts of being alive. They not only open your mind, they open possibilities.
Sadly, they don’t come all that often—we’re busy, we’re used to the way we’ve always done or thought about things, and frankly, it can be a challenge to soften enough to let in new ideas. (That’s all thanks to your ego, which is VERY invested in making sure that you do things and think about things in the same way that you always have. The ego is not your amigo!)
I learned everything I needed to know about motherhood before my first child was even officially born. Of course, I need to continually remember and deepen that learning, but it was all right there in those 72 hours of labor.
Yes, I said 72 hours. Of labor.
I started having regular contractions on a Saturday night, and my daughter wasn’t born until Tuesday night. We had planned to have the baby at home, as I have an irrational fear of hospitals and needles. We had the team in place—a fabulous midwife and doula. We had all the stuff—an inflatable hot tub in our living room, ample towels, pots of soup in the fridge for sustenance. We had everything except the baby.
Every time my contractions would start to intensify, they inevitably plateaued again. I walked. I climbed stairs. I went to a café and tried to do a crossword with my midwife. I ate spicy food. I think I even drank some castor oil. Nothing worked!
As I was walking up to school two afternoons ago to pick up the kids, I ran in to the PTO volunteer coordinator. Months ago, I had told her that my mom, who is a retired librarian, would love to volunteer in the school library. The volunteer coordinator was thrilled, as our school librarian is totally overwhelmed, with no time to re-stack books. And then the politics began—the principal thought the librarian should be able to handle it on his own. The librarian was trying to prove that he had it under control. But now enough time had passed that they were both ready to admit they needed some outside help.
She gave me the inside scoop of what had been going on during those many weeks since I first connected her to Mom. And then, she lowered the boom on me.
“Would you consider running for the board?”
“A Tesla, of course,” she instantly replied.
(My husband is a huge electric car fan and the Tesla is his spirit animal.)
I told her Teslas start at around $80,000, and she grimaced. “OK, I don’t have that much money. What about a toy Tesla?”
So we went online to check out the official Tesla merchandise. We found the T-shirt in that photo up there. I ordered one in my husband’s size and waited for it to arrive.
When it came, it was the wrong size.
Damn Tesla, they screwed it up! I immediately thought when I saw the “S” on the tag.
Last week I wrote about how to get several things done at once by letting all the sides of the Rubik’s cube that is your life meld into one another (if you missed it and don’t know what the heck I’m talking about, it’s here: How to “Get It All Done”—Part 1).
This week I want to talk about another way to take care of everything that’s important to you (your family, your health, your business, your relationship—all of it!).
Instead of wishing I had more hours in the day so I could accomplish more things, I challenge myself to pull back the lens on my time and take a longer view.
Meaning, there are only a few things that I care about doing every day. Because trying to pack a bunch of stuff in to your daily experience is only going to make you feel like there aren’t enough hours available. Read more…