Stress: DIY thought work on-the-go

DIY thought work on-the-go no matter what’s going on in the world

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Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

I’m often asked, “How do you do it ALL!?” As a leadership developer, humanities researcher, and coach in private practice, I often get asked to do important work that I love. However, I have to be careful to notice when I’m approaching overcommitment and take action to not spread myself too thin. This is especially the case now with all that’s going on in the world of well-being and in times of change. My students and clients regularly ask me how I manage overcommitment. I tell them, I coach myself! 

Leaders in social professions, social enterprises, thought leaders, and entrepreneurial healers are ambitious individuals, so it’s easy for us to get caught in the trap of wanting to do all the things all the time, but only to start to realize overcommitment. It’s like clockwork – no matter if you’re in the leadership professor or not, you still have to lead your life. However, this happens to me less now, but when I now notice it I coach myself on-the-go. When explaining my approach to DIY thought work, I advise:

Keep it simple:

Your goal is to avoid overcommitting, so keep it simple. One way to keep it simple is to realize that overcommitment is an idea that is made up in your own mind – it’s only a thought. Step back and realize this – is simply a thought – nothing more or less. When a client tells themselves they are overcommitted, they’re also spiraling emotions (fear, scarcity, etc.). Emotions fuel thinking and thinking fuel emotions. So just keep it simple; notice the thoughts and emotions and let them pass. Then decide what emotions and thoughts align with what you want and empower those.

Determine success:

Once you realize simplicity, define your success. You get to define what success is, not someone outside of you. Your success indicator may be organizationally aligned, or it may not. You decide. Don’t second guess and spiral in confusion. Know the reason behind your success indicator then go for it. 

Determine approaches:

Now that you have decided on some success indicators you can determine approaches. A way to do this is to note some initial hunches. You could, with mindful intention, use what’s worked in the past. For example, for me, I may choose a research-proven protocol I’ve used in the past that is also in alignment with my future goal. Since I’ve evolved, my approach will need to be modified, but it is an approach I’m familiar with. This is important for me because in massive times of change it is not a good time for me to try things.

Curate your mind:

Leadership is a learning stance and you’re always in observer mode, so you need to pay attention to what’s going on inside of you. Observe your mind. Watch your self talk. Although my mind sends me messages like “There is no way you can do this!” “You may as well quit now.” I just tell myself instead, “I’ll figure out a way to make this do-able.” When my clients are overwhelmed, I ask them to find a reasonable amount of time that works for them to work on the issue. I ask them to find a way to enjoy the process just as much as they think they will enjoy the outcome. Better yet, I remind them that the process should be better than the outcome. Don’t burnout. 

As a leader in social fields, you will be asked to do more, this comes with the territory. When you find yourself in the forest of overcommitment, take a deep breath and some relaxation time (maybe a couple of hours – but not too long) then DIY thought work. Just remember overcommitment can lead to over evaluation. Just suspend evaluation, and then keep it simple using these steps. Ultimately, you’re doing the work you love anyway so be prepared to feel rewarded in the journey.

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