There are some projects that have disaster written all over them, right from the start. Others fall apart after it’s way too late to backtrack or figure out Plan B. And sometimes a perfectly reasonable process will suddenly devolve into chaos.
This is true for the full range of activities you may be facing; from cleaning out the coat closet to packing your parents 5 bedroom house for sale.
In the best of all possible worlds we could make plans, anticipate all the issues and move ahead with projects, right?
Well, things happen. I’d like to reference a blog post by Chris Bailey of A Life of Productivity
He had a rather nasty turn of events to navigate when he broke a leg while traveling abroad. For several weeks his life was no longer his to control, plans went way south, and productivity bottomed out. The way he managed to get back his sense of balance involved several steps.
I see these as moments of choice about his relationship to an unavoidable situation.
- Owning Clear Intentions
- Meditation – also known as giving your mind a time out.
- Thinking more positively, with awareness of gratitude.
Oh and I forgot…the fourth thing; exercising.
Intentions are not just about having a defined goal. They should include the process, in other words; how are you progressing towards a goal or a finished project? What are the steps, the incremental points where you notice that you are improving, or moving ahead?
Many of my clients are working on changing habits. I wish I could say that this can happen overnight, but more often you’ll begin to notice a shift in very small ways.
“Oh! I just tossed my keys onto an already overloaded table, instead of hanging them on the new nail by the door!”
So maybe you are not sorting and filing the mail before dinner, but if you catch yourself before you drop it into pile where it will disappear, that is progress toward an intention to deal with incoming paper.
Bailey describes writing down three things he could commit to managing before the end of the day. EVERY DAY. This clarifies realistic goals that can be measured and celebrated. Limit your daily TO DO lists to the things that you can really finish, and I promise you’ll begin to feel better about change.
Meditation is not something I will belabor, because so many people dismiss it out of hand. Instead consider that a space of time in which your busy mind can rest will increase your overall stamina. If the idea of simply sitting still with your hands in your lap makes you start to twitch, how about a walk?
A quiet activity that is not tightly measured by results is best. You could say that these suggestions do have goals but it is the process that matters: playing an instrument, knitting, writing in a journal, anything creative…these activities tend to give your normal thinking mind a time–out.
Positive Thinking is a well-documented way to keep marching along, even when things around you are heading south. Bailey suggests ending the day by bringing to mind a positive experience, and I know that when I make a concerted effort to remember what has gone right, it is easier to carry on.
These strategies are aspects of resilience. When overcome by anxiety or dismay at life in general, try to return to these ways to regain your balance
Oh, the other thing, exercising. I kid you not; this is the real sanity saver for me. It’s also often dismissed by busy people, and is something I also have to work on maintaining. But when life throws me too many curve balls or I am just feeling overwhelmed, this goes to the top of the list.
Before setting intentions, before meditation or knitting, before staying positive when I feel least like doing so…I take a walk. This provides the space in which to step back into authority and responsibility.
No matter what the situation, you can approach it with any of these tools of resilience, and be better off.
Sorting the mail will look like a piece of cake!