Okay, I admit it, today I went into overwhelm. My anxiety rose, my frustration surfaced and I was at a loss. From emails, texts and conversations, to plans and past invitations accepted, all I could see were a multitude of choices and decisions. Could I really do everything in front of me? Did I want to?
An interesting problem given that my recent reading has been around effective decision-making. If that isn’t ironic I don’t know what is.
I just powered through a book called Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg. It’s not the first book of its type that I have read and it won’t be the last. In fact, that book inspired me to begin reading another book I had bought on sale, called 10*10*10 by Suzy Welch. Years ago I read “First Things First” by Steven Covey. Apparently I am really interested in how to set and achieve goals.
Now I know some of you, maybe most of you, have got this all figured out. Maybe though one or two of you, at different times in your life, have struggled in the same way I have. We have a plan, we execute the plan, we fulfill the needs of others and maybe ourselves and then, when the plan is complete, we ask…now what? That’s what transition is all about, movement.
In the last two years I have had to negotiate many changes, all of them by choice. Even the difficult one, like choosing to end a marriage was a choice. Not easy, not fun, but necessary and important to bringing who I really was, forward. Then came the choices of how to navigate single-hood and to build the life I really wanted. Huh, more choices and decisions. Slowly they have come together.
Now, here I am, honoring the gift of writing that I held back for so long. The more I move into it and therefore into my life, the more choices and decisions there are.
Even enjoyable decisions can be stressful
It’s surprising, isn’t it, that even enjoyable decisions can be stressful? I haven’t had a lot of practice with this, which is why I actually found Duhigg’s book so helpful. Using examples from the business world and from everyday living, I could see where I was floundering and where I am succeeding.
My commitment is to get a blog post out every week. I have changed the posting date from Saturday to Wednesday, thus honouring other goals that I have for my life and also, to test out whether more people are likely to open an email mid-week rather than on a weekend. (It is early on, I don’t have the answer to that yet!)
I am also interested in getting out into the world more; take in more concerts, have more conversations and pursue some writing interests. Of course some of that is as enthusiastic consumer, such as with a concert. Others need me to seek out experts as to the next steps. It’s as it all begins to crash together that I begin to feel I am fumbling the ball. I know I need to prioritize, but why is it so hard?
If you are stuck at the starting line of this next chapter of your life, this may seem like a good problem to have. I know I hadn’t quite envisioned what this might look like. But, here’s the thing; I arrived at this line, because I hadn’t really forecast what might happen if it did all start to pop.
So, here I am in overwhelm. Not because of negative choices, but because I have a variety of great choices and don’t know which ones to pursue. Do I stay up late on Thursday to take in a spectacular meteorite shower? Should I attend the music event the following evening to both support and enjoy a friend’s musical ambitions? Is it better to accept or decline the invitation to blend business and pleasure? Two birds, one stone. Do I take time alone to re-energize and goal set or instead, spend time with friends? Do I add a meal onto a theatre date or just enjoy the play? All this over the space of four days, what’s a gal to do?
I know, tough to be me.
Using goal setting to control overwhelm
Frankly it’s why I will be using Duhigg’s book as a tool to guide me as I begin to plot out this next chapter of my life. Not all of his information is new such as setting a stretch goal and creating a S.M.A.R.T goal (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timeline) to support it. I did find however, the areas around motivation, focus and decision-making of particular interest and help.
At one time, in the not too distant past, there was a gaping hole where interest, talent and purpose should have resided and didn’t. I had lost them because I had never nurtured them or been taught how they could coincide with everyday living. Based on my work with others also trying to transition from “is this it?”, to “this is it!” it is not such an uncommon problem. The first part of the journey is a rediscovery of yourself. The second is how to fit it all together without going into overwhelm and shutting down.
Even when there are a lot of great choices, choosing the what, when and why enhances our overall plans for the directions we want to take. Saying no doesn’t mean no never, it can simply be, no, not now. Oh, and if you’re curious? Yes to the meteorites, and to the dinner and theatre. A temporary no to the business/pleasure meeting, I’ll reschedule. A very big yes to goal setting, which will help with future decision-making. And the music night? It is the spontaneous wild card. I’ll see how I feel when I get to it.
If you are trying to transition into this next phase of your life and could use a mentor, someone who has been there, send me an email. Let’s get the possibilities flowing and choices made, the world awaits.