Over the last month or so, I have been feeling really charged, the drive and passion for achieving my goals, that had subsided somewhat since I left the UK, returned with a vengeance. On top of my day job, I found myself devouring books, having weekly accountability Skype calls, learning Spanish, going on 6am runs, writing 1000 words before even getting out of bed, participating in e-courses, working my to do list and generally just feeling pretty on fire.
Clearing the decks
Two weeks ago the fire burnt out. When I found myself fighting back tears on my weekly call with my gorgeous accountability partner, I quickly realised that in the excitement of feeling on it, I had taken on too much. They (whoever ‘they’ are) say, “if you want something done, ask a busy person” and normally I couldn’t agree more. Why? Because when I’m in flow, on it, full of energy, flying high, I feel like I can do anything and everything and all of it today, in fact make that yesterday!
I’ve learnt that I have to watch that. In future I’d prefer not to get to a point where drastic action is required but last week that is exactly where I ended up. I cancelled everything, I stopped setting my alarm to get up at 6am, I stopped writing my morning pages, I stopped running, instead I decided to get up when my body and brain felt they’d had enough sleep (one day I slept as late as 10.40am – imagine!). I also stopped setting weekly goals, I cancelled my weekly accountability call and I started to breath again.
Time to relax
Instead of trying to make every second of my day productive, I slept more, in my down time I watched episode after episode of ‘Friends’ without feeling guilty, I lay in my hammock and after a week like this my heart rate resumed to normal, I started to feel less anxious and instead I became centered and calm. With this new state of mind I decided to take a closer look at why I had got myself into a position of feeling so overwhelmed in the first place.
I got a piece of paper and I wrote down all the things I had on my plate (many of which I had put on my plate oh so willingly!). It included work, day-to-day activities, e-courses I had signed up for, books I had started reading, goals I was working towards and anything else that was floating around on my mental wish list. There was a lot of stuff.
Then I decided to tackle my personal email. I opened my Hotmail account to find over 650 unread emails. I took a deep breath and I got to work, I unsubscribed from what felt like hundreds of newsletters. As I did so, I realised how sign-up crazy I can get. Because I love learning and there are so many incredible and free resources out there, I find myself wanting access to them all but what I realised as I went through my inbox was that most of these emails had never even been opened, they just sat there in my inbox making me feel stressed every time I looked at them.
I told myself this: You can pick one course and one book for the month of August.
I had started The Artist’s Way a week earlier along with several other people who had formed a Facebook group to help support each other, but looking through my list I spotted an e-course I had downloaded months earlier and failed to finish. “30 days of Meditation” a course from Kate Swoboda leapt from the page. If I’m suffering from overwhelm what better than to set myself a goal of finding time for stillness everyday?
Now I just had to pick a book. One book. One book from the 10+ books I was currently reading and only one book from the 100+ unread books currently sitting on my Kindle, waiting to be read.
Also in support of avoiding overwhelm and looking after my health, I chose to read ‘The Fast Diet: The Secret of Intermittent Fasting” by Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer, who describe a new way of eating that helps us stay trim and live longer by eating normally five days a week and fasting for two days a week.
Having made my choices, I promptly forgot about all the other things on my list. These two endeavors: to meditate every day for 30 days and to fast for two days a week feel like a manageable plan.
What I’ve realised is that by choosing these two things to focus on I’m not doing any less than I was before, in fact I may even achieve more this month than I did last month, but clearing space in my life and in my brain allows me not only to focus but to breath.
Don’t forget to breath!