Search This Blog

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Okay, Brain, Your Mine Now

  If you're like me you get stories in your head about people, situations and alternate realities.  In fact, if you're a human being (if you are not this is truly amazing) you probably do this a lot.  I have stories in my head about what friends, family and co-workers think about me.  I have stories in my head about social and professional situations where I imagine unfavorable or worst-case scenarios.  I even have stories in my head about what life would be like if I was unemployed, incapacitated, or left alone in the world.  The brain, even mine, is a powerful, imaginative machine, but there are times that it generates conspiracy theories and some pretty discouraging forecasts . . . or just seems to mess with us.

    In the blog Barking Up the Wrong Tree, in the post How to Stop Worrying, the author reminds us that our thoughts are not reality.  "Just because we think it, doesn't make it true."  These thoughts distract us from the here-and-now.  We drift off into thoughts and theories that undermine our real life situation instead of paying attention to the world around us and being present - being mindful.  My real life situation isn't perfect, but I do love my life - all of it - so why would I allow myself to entertain these negative, unreal thoughts?  Eric, the blog post author, provides a list of strategies to help you stop worrying and start being mindful:
  1. You are not your thoughts. Sometimes they’re downright ridiculous. Just because you think it, doesn’t make it true.
  2. Observe, don’t judge. Acknowledge the thoughts, but let them float by. Don’t wrestle with them.
  3. Don’t distract, immerse. Do not check your email for the 400th time. Take in the world around you. Turn to your senses. That’s real. Your thoughts and the stories you tell yourself about the world aren’t.
  4. Note or label intrusive thoughts. Yeah, the thoughts fight back. Acknowledge them. Give the intrusive ones a funny name.
  5. Return to the senses. Really pay attention to the world around you.
    As the author points out, being mindful takes effort and practice, but it's a fairly simple and easy to remember list, so it's doable.  

    I'd like to add one more step.  Avoid picking and choosing which thoughts to let go.  What good will it do me to work on some negative thoughts and misconceptions, and not be willing to set myself free from all of them?   You and I need to recognize when that thought is not beneficial to us and/or those around us, and apply one or more of the above tactics to stop worrying and be mindful.  Ready?  Here we go . . . 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Me Version 5.0: Time for an Upgrade

    I'm overwhelmed, but I'm pretty sure no one knows it.  I try not to let on that I'm unhappy with my self-discipline and lack of focus.  I simply am not the recreation superintendent and educator I want to be. Everywhere I turn (in my office and with my schedule) I feel that I can't make any significant headway.  Every good intention seems to be thwarted by my own disorganization, stacks of things to read, and desire to handle work projects and obligations with professional efficiency and mastery.  In short, this sucks.  I suck.
    Don't get me wrong, things are great at home and with my health, but this current version of "me the professional" is not cutting it.  It's not the jobs - I love what I do.  I have great staff/co-workers who do great work.  My students are great and are very responsive in class and in the work they turn in.  My boss is supportive and happy with my performance . . . but I am not.  I know I can do better and, just like I'm typing this with only two-fingers, I know I am not making the most of my time, resources, and basic organizational skills.

    Wally Bock's Leading Yourself: A Baker's Dozen of Things to Master provides a simple list of actionable things I can do to help move myself into a more productive, efficient, and engaged mode professionally.  I know this will take time and that new habits must be practiced (30 days for it to really take hold and 10,000 hours of committed practice to demonstrate mastery), but I don't want to look back a week from now, a month from now, or a year from now and say, "If only I had started back then . . ."  It's going to take time to get organized and practice to stay organized, but like Walt Disney said, "The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing,” and “The secret of juggling many responsibilities is organization."
   Let's get started . . . .