Are you doing enough? Recently I've heard so many people - clients, fellow coaches, friends, me sometimes - despairing that they aren't doing enough. They aren't as awesome as their peers. Or as some internal ideal. Everyone else is so much more PRODUCTIVE. I've been reading books like Today Matters and Die Empty, which are inspiring and motivating and remind us to get off our butts and do something - to stop hemming and hawing and just go... But these books don't actually tell you to "just go." Because just going isn't necessarily what you need to do. There are two kinds of "just going". The first is desperate going so you can say you're moving. So you don't have to feel like you're being too much of a lump. So you can jog along and say, "See? I'm doing something!" It feels jangly. It feels electric, but in an uncomfortable, static-y way. It feels like too much caffeine. It feels like an out of control spring, bouncing, bouncing, bouncing. It feels frantic. Sometimes it feels aimless - either like a hamster running in a wheel or like a pinball ricocheting off of lots of light-up bumpers, racking up "points" but getting nowhere. Let's call this kind "spinning." Spinning can feel exhilarating at first, but it quickly devolves into unfulfilled exhaustion.
The second kind of "just going" feels fresh and adventurous. Maybe there's a slight tinge of fear, but it's more like anticipation. It feels solid and grounded but light at the same time. Like setting out on a hike on a sparkling summer morning. Or picking up a paintbrush and beginning to cover a canvas with color. It feels like possibility. It feels creative and it feels fun. It's connected to something bigger. Let's call this kind "Sauntering". Sauntering is moving forward but without hurry or stress - in a relaxed, but purposeful manner. Not frantic and fast, but at a comfortable pace.
What about not going, you ask? When does that make sense? Is it always time to move?
Not necessarily. There are two kinds of "not going" too. The first kind is fear-based. It feels frozen, heavy and scared. It feels cut off. It feels like peanut butter on the roof of your mouth, or tires mired in mud. It wants to climb back under the covers. Maybe watch some TV. Let's call this kind "Stuck." Stuck is just how it sounds. And it feels awful, even when we try to avoid the feeling by snacking, napping, hiding, or distracting ourselves.
The second kind of not going is peaceful and restful. It feels clear and conscious. Being present and not doing makes more sense for the time being. It's sometimes paired with planning or visioning. It's sometimes gearing up for something big. Let's call this kind "Still." Still is quiet on purpose. It's realizing that some of the best ideas only happen when we give ourselves time to percolate, marinate, meditate - time to relax and dream.
I've felt the effects of Spinning, Sauntering, Stuck and Still in recent weeks, and what I know is that I'm so much happier when I'm shifting between sauntering and still. When I'm spinning and stuck, not so much. Here are four simple steps to help you recognize spinning and stuck and move toward sauntering and still.
1. Pay attention. Look closely at exactly what you're doing. Keep a log of your actions (or inactions) - in 15 minute increments, just for a day or two. Be honest! I can get stuck in a Facebook vortex faster than you can say, "kitten video!" And if there's printed matter in front of me, I can read until an hour or two has drifted past. It takes brutal honesty to confront where your time is actually going.
2. Ask yourself if you can align enough of your actions with your larger vision or purpose. If not, then you're probably spinning or stuck. If you don't even know what your larger vision or purpose is, it's probably time to get still and focus on that first.
3. Check in with your body and your emotions. If your feelings are positive and your body feels light, you're more likely sauntering or still. If your feelings are negative and your body feels heavy, you're more likely spinning or stuck. *Warning: Sometimes stuck and spinning can feel positive at first - kind of like the initial sugar high before the crash. Be attentive to your overall emotional state, and the feeling in your body.
4. Reflect at the end of the day, each day for a week. Are you content with the way you spent the day? Can you point to some action or some experience that feels like it's connected with your big picture goals? (Back to #2!) Do you have a nice mix of happy action (Sauntering) and relaxed recharging (Stillness)?
Just having these four categories helps me be honest with what I'm doing. Once I'm aware, I can choose to make a change. It feels great to climb into bed after a day of engaging Sauntering mixed with restorative and reflective Stillness. And it feels like enough. Days like that remind me of the quote I used to have on the wall of my classroom: "Vision without action is only a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world."
How about you? Where do you find yourself spending more time - spinning, sauntering, stuck or still? When you're spinning or stuck, what strategies do you like to use to move back into sauntering or stillness? How do you like to address the voice that says you haven't done enough? Share your ideas in the comments, or email me, and let's continue the conversation!