I've had to tell myself not to cry at least three times this morning as I tied a flannel around my waist, slipped into my Converse, and headed for the door to grab my morning coffee.
Don't cry. Don't cry. Don't cry.
It's one of those mornings... you know the kind: You wake up late. Nothing you put on your body seems to fit you. You check the scale because it's possible you gained 10 pounds overnight because spinach dip, no matter how much we say it is a good idea, is never a good idea. Your hair won't do anything. Your to-do list is long. And nothing, no sweet texts or gentle embraces for the day, will please you.
This is my morning and I have to try really hard not to let the tyrant inside of me-- the one who already believes her day is crushed-- rule for the next few hours.
A bad attitude about what you can or cannot accomplish throughout this day is never a good idea. Trust me. If you were going to be running a race this morning you would never think to invite a person who was going to ridicule you until you reached the finish line. In the same way, you should not invite the parts of yourself who want to have a continual, 24-7 pity party into your work day. Forget "haters gonna hate" and just stop hating on yourself for being not enough.
Today I am deciding to kill the pity party and dig deeper into some of the things I do that help me feel less overwhelmed inside of an overdrive week.
Do one small thing.
It seems too simple. Especially for the ones of us who want to fix all the world's problems by 2pm, it seems way too simple to think one small task is going to change anything. But honestly? Every good thing and every hard thing begins with one small step in the right direction.
I thought of a million ways to begin writing this morning and none of them were getting me anywhere. I knew I needed to blog today (it's been about a month) but I felt crazed when I looked at all the potential topics. It's my job to get out of my own way though and so I sat down and resolved to write something. Anything. This is that blog post. It exists now. It is small and may never serve a mighty purpose but it's proof that I've accomplished as task for the day.
2. Get organized on paper
My boyfriend has been helping me come up with a system for the last few weeks to manage my tasks and sort out the different projects I am working on. I can't sit here and claim it's been easy. I've been stubborn. I've wanted to reject nearly every idea. He is patient and analytical so he is already processing all the tasks I have to get done with a spreadsheet mindset. Me? I am a hurricane who actually delights in her own chaos. If you clear out my chaos then what could I possibly be dramatic about? It's a bad habit that seriously needs to kick the bucket if I want to be more productive in 2016.
So we are trying out different task management applications and I would love to get your input on things you like and things you don't like. This morning, my great friend Lara Casey suggested I try out Things. She wrote a really awesome blog post on her own organization habits that I would suggest reading.
Mind you, I am a pen-to-paper girl so switching to a digital task management system is going to be hard for me. I will not eliminate my daily planner (a lot of you asked for the link) but I also need to find a way to be more efficient with my tasks, my copywriting clients, my team, and my grocery list.
3. Make a choice (and stick with it)
It's ironic that I asked you to give me task management suggestions in the point above when I really should have written, "Please don't suggest anything to me because the more you suggest, the more fickle I will become." Maybe that's you too-- the more options you are given, the more chances you have to be indecisive.
Trust me, I do not need an excuse or a reason to be indecisive and neither do you. The longer we float in limbo with our options, the less we get done. Options-- too many of them-- make us inefficient.
So how you do you drown out all the noise about options in 2016 when there are 57 different kinds of Honey Mustard dressing and a million different ways to dress your iPhone? Simple. You figure out what you like. You make a decision and you stick with it. You give value to that decision by continually choosing it over and over again. You don't introduce change into the mix unless you absolutely need change.
It makes me think about that scene in You've Got Mail where Tom Hanks' character talks about Starbucks. He says, "The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don't know what the hell they're doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino."
I think this is completely, 100% me until I realize that I do not want to be the kind of person who is incapable of making decisions. I want to be decided. I want to be resolved. The first step towards that?
Pick one thing. Pick that you want plain drip coffee with a little bit of cream. Proceed to buy that coffee on the regular. Keep choosing drip coffee. Drip coffee will not let you down. It never has. It doesn't know how to.
4. It's mile 3... keep going.
I was sitting at church with a friend of mine on Sunday and he was feeling pretty discouraged about a girl he has been dating. He keeps trying to make plans with her and she's giving him excuses for every single proposal he makes.
** Pause for some friendly non-abrasive relationship advice **
Dear people everywhere,
If you are not interested in a person (either from the start or after a few dates) just tell them. Save that person time. Save yourself time. Quit the games. Honesty is the best way to lead, especially when it comes to other human hearts wrapped up in the mix. Just be honest and give up the game-playing.
A retired game player
Back to my friend...
He was sincerely bummed out and wanted to give up. At this point, he has every reason to give up but I found myself telling him no.
"You are not giving up until you end it," I tell him. "You are not going to punk out at mile 3 and write yourself an ending to this story that isn't true. You're going to finish."
Mile 3 is a reference to a New Year's run that I've done in Central Park for the last few years. It starts at midnight. You run the loop of the park at the strike of the New Year. There are fireworks. It's a 4 mile race.
If you are not a seasoned runner then you start to get tired at mile 3. Mile 3 is where you begin huffing and puffing. My friends and I who have run this race before and we know that mile 3 is actually the best mile mark because it's where the sparkling apple cider in little Dixie cups is waiting for you.
You stop. You cheers one another. You say Happy New Year to the people passing out the Dixie Cups and you keep going because you know the real truth: you are going to make it. You are going to finish. You are capable.
"You don't punk out at mile 3," I reinforce to my friend. "That's where you chug the apple cider and you keep going." No one turns down sparkling apple cider. It is simply not allowed.
Last night I showed up at a meeting with a bottle of sparkling apple cider for my friend. I got it for $3.99 at Publix. It's really inexpensive to celebrate your friends but it's really very necessary.
I reminded him that we don't give up at mile 3. We keep going, even when it's hard. Even when it is overwhelming and we are tempted to script a not-true story to feed our hungry little egos, we cheers our little Dixie cups and finish strong.
Finish strong, you.
You are a finisher who deserves really good things in life.