Or… “How The Robot Bear Met The Giant Space Monkey and Thus Obtained The Glittering Prize.”
Dear WordPress Consultants,
If you're anything like me, then you have a problem with getting burnt out by the computer screen, overwhelmed by the complexity of doing business and frustrated by not being able to See Clearly.
By “See Clearly” (yes, with capital letters) I am not talking about your eyesight, but rather your ability to remain clear at all times about:
- what your business Vision (your Dream, your Glittering Prize) is
- what you are going to do this week (month, year)
- and what you should do right now
- in order to get the Glittering Prize
Like many small business people, I am pretty much obsessed with my business. I have some lofty goals and there is a lot to do. To be honest, I am usually at my happiest when I am dreaming about the Glittering Prize – which for me equals having created in reality the kind of business I am obsessed with building.
But too much day dreaming won't get you where you want to go, and so each day I go to work and get muddy in the trenches, nutting it out, one day at a time.
Alas, however, I am but a Bear of Little Brain really, and I regularly get completely overwhelmed by the 1001 Things I Simply Must Do Now until it gets to become such a cacophony inside my head that I have basically stopped being effective. Eventually, I end up just sort of oscillating on my trendy exercise ball, clicking and humming and jerking about at my desk like some kind of robot in serious need of a definition update and a good defrag.
(That's right I'm a bear AND a robot. Stick with me here…)
Here's how I deal with the above problem, in 3.5 easy steps:
Step 1 – Run Away from the Office
I know it's hard to do. I know there's a LOT to do. I know this client is getting antsy, and that a client wanted their thing done yesterday, but seriously, you cannot serve anybody well when you are having an acute attack of Overwhelm us OMG-itis.
So there comes a time when it is more constructive to…
Step 2 – Go for a Walk, Exercise or Meditate
This is the best way for Robot Bears to defrag. Walking is brilliant, so is any form of exercise, but the key is to notice what you're doing with your noggin when you're exercising.
A walk spent grinding over The 973 Things That Must Get Done Instantly – But How? Is counter-constructive. You need to catch yourself thinking about all that stuff and stop it. You're wasting your energy and in this state of mind you will work out exactly nothing anyway.
Instead, turn your mind deliberately away from work. Think about nothing much, and when you find yourself thinking about work problems again, turn your mind to noticing the colour of the sky, the neighbour's lovely garden, the interesting patterns the cracking concrete makes – anything BUT work.
One thing I do when walking is play a dopey little game of Noticing and Naming Things. I just walk along noticing things and, err, naming them. “There's a letterbox. A granny is watering the garden. A dog barking at me. A tree.” You get the picture. Dumb, yes, but it gets you out of the office mentally as well as physically.
If you do this well, one of the two things will happen. Either you'll return to work with a rested and refreshed mind that will greatly facilitate more effective work outputs.
Or you will return to work massively inspired because you managed to tune out and let your mind wander for a while, and suddenly The Answer appeared in your mind, just like that (yes, with capital letters).
You probably won't get The Answer to ALL of your myriad challenges – but you might get one. And that's one more challenge solved than none, which is how many you were solving when you were banging your face against the keyboard earlier.
Step 2.5 – Yeah That's Right, Geekface, I said Meditate
As well as walking and exercising, I regularly indulge in meditation to get clear and “receive the details of The Plan” from my Relaxed Mind (or from Buddha, or from The Giant Space Monkey or whatever floats your boat).
Now meditation is a loaded word, but all seriously, all you need to do is chill and focus on your breath, or listen to the birds outside or just try to be aware of being aware (always a trip). Just sit with no expectations that anything interesting is going to happen at all. And when you find yourself thinking about stupid irrelevant stuff or, even worse, work, don't worry about it. Just refocus on your breathing or the birds or your navel whatever.
Step 3 – Await The Next Steps
For example, the other day I was all muddied in the head and stressed and couldn't see the woods for the trees. So I surrendered, turned off my computer, and just lay on the floor and meditated (i.e. did nothing) for a while.
As I lay on the floor and waited, some fresh clarity arrived (eventually) in the form of some Next Steps. As in, “What To Do Next” (as opposed to “Everything All At Once” which is useless).
You see there are two main facets to Clarity (yes, dammit, with a capital C) which are so important to have when you are trying to go for the Glittering Prize.
The first is to have clarity as to what it is you are trying to achieve, what the result is. Just what are you actually trying to achieve ultimately?
And the second thing you need is clarity about what to do next, or Next Steps.
In your head, or even on paper, you probably have The Brainstorm, i.e. everything that you can think of that you could do to make your goals for your business happen. Trouble is; you can only do one thing at a time and only a few important things every day.
So by chilling out, exercising or meditating (or both), and forgetting about work, you will soon find that answers will bubble up. You will suddenly feel very clear as to what you should do next, and why that makes sense.
When you have these two things, you have everything you need to get to work now, dealing with the minutia of the day, clear in the knowledge of where you are going and how the work you are doing today is helping you to get, eventually, to the Glittering Prize at the end of the Space Monkey's Rainbow.