Publisher - January 2020

Pub0120Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.  
—Carl Jung–

Almost every day I find myself wanting a do-over, meaning going back to the moment I woke up and begin again. This desire is usually fueled by a long to-do list that is not being checked off fast enough, or at all. Regardless how many tasks are on the list, most go undone, even though I’m full-throttle slammed all day long. It’s exhausting.

As such, I find my brain does a great job of vacillating between making me feel bad and justification. Literally, I mentally badger myself to do, do, do, and I mentally console myself with thoughts like, “Look what we’re getting done. We’re doing good, right?” Maybe I experience this madness because I live with intense deadlines that come flying at me every 28-30 days. I have a friend who jokes about the rigid cycle of my publishing life, “God, and I thought having a period every month was bad!” We laugh, but she has a point.

I am no longer a human-being, I’ve become a human-doer, and it doesn’t suit me. Life isn’t a dress rehearsal, and there are no do-overs. Though not generous or forgiving, time is consistent. Ironically, you can count on time like clockwork. This year I’m going to figure out how time and I can harmoniously work together.

I struggle to change because most days I actually make things happen at breakneck speeds—but at a price: Important tasks remain on the undone list, and my brain no longer thinks straight. When it hurts to think, something’s got to give. There you have it—my daily dilemma I am trying to leave in 2019, but of course, I haven’t gotten around to telling it yet. As the saga plays out, here are a few things to consider in boxing out overwhelm this year.

Unplug: I won’t speak for you, but my smartphone is killing me. The distraction is becoming insurmountable. It’s stealing my attention span, zapping my memory and pretending to be important. I see the harm all around me but can’t stop. Perhaps we should call it a shrewdphone, because the people behind it know exactly what they’re doing, and they are winning. I want to go back to flip phone days, but society no longer allows it. I believe the shrewdphones are hijacking our brains, maybe even our genetics. None the less, there is no better way for the clock to win than to engage your smartphone.

Ask for Help: I have a problem of not asking for help until it comes in the form of a Mayday. Women are especially guilty of this. Most of the things I need help with I can see coming a mile away, but I wait until they’re splat all over my windshield to address. Why must I inflict this pain on myself? If must-dos are sitting on your fat-chance list, get help now!

Get someone to handle the things you’re not as good at: (First you have to admit you’re not good at something. From there you can move forward.) Usually the problems I can see a mile away, I can see when they’re 50 miles away. Certain things that are not my forte, and as a general rule, I put them off. Don’t you? Assign these tasks to others sooner than later, and quit trying to be Superwoman. If you don’t, that S on the front of your shirt could start to stand for something else.

Have non-negotiables: Recently I realized practically everything in my life is negotiable. If a meeting is supposed to last an hour, and it lasts three, I just rearranged my schedule to accommodate. This is how the fat-chance list born. There has to be hard stops, non-negotiables. As much as I like flexibility, I can never win by taking the Scarlett O’Hara approach of tomorrow is another day. For some things, tomorrow is too late and getting it done today is not negotiable. Identify your daily non-negotiable each morning and put a plan together to make sure those things are done no matter what. Coach Faulkner, our Motivational Man this month (Pg. 44), said, There are 86,400 seconds in each day. You won’t ever get them back. How are you going to spend every one of them?

Manage Time Suckers: Implementing the non-negotiable policy will naturally weed out many of the time suckers, but there will still be a few that just won’t die. Some time suckers for me are email, smartphone distractions, phone calls, and what I call rabbit holes. Like going on the internet for a specific reason, seeing something unrelated to your reason, clicking on it, then forgetting the reason you went on the internet in the first place. Texting is also a time suck. I once read a study that stated if we are in a deep state of concentration and get distracted, it takes 8-minutes to return to that deep state. In today’s hyper-technological environment, rarely does 8 minutes ever go by uninterrupted, which means we rarely, if ever, get to a deep state of mind. Hence, complete annihilation of the brain, memory and attention span. Again, my smartphone is killing me.

Celebrate the wins: Finally, I could be less of a human-doer and more of a human-being if I celebrated the wins more. In today’s Pac-Man environment of gobble and go, seldom do we stop when we are “full” and enjoy the moment or feel satisfied. My brain wouldn’t be clamoring for justification if I got still and positively acknowledged the wins, even the little ones. I see the human brain as a metacrawler, constantly searching for completion and satisfaction. If we zoom from one task to the next, and never give our brain any indication of completion, it is never satiated. It just continues to run its more-powerful-than-Google search engine until we fall into bed exhausted and wake up to ceaselessly carry on the search.

This year, the words that resonate with me are “Be Still.” These are two of the most powerful words in the Bible, as they are pacesetters, priority makers and the doorway to your soul. Being still allows you to connect with who you are and remember what’s important to you. Being still makes way for new thoughts, solutions, emotions and clarity. Some translations look at the context in which “Be Still” was written and translate it as to “cease striving” or “stop fighting.” When you think of it that way, our packed days is us fighting to conquer the day and all that it holds. This is an illness of the human race, and we all need to take moments to allow clarity to ease our condition.
Be still. Meditate. Pray. Breathe. Be. This is the secret to calming overwhelm. Have you ever looked into the sky on the clearest of nights and been able to see the twinkles of millions of stars? Your brain is that clear. Be still and allow the clouds to dissipate. You’ll be surprised at all the amazing things twinkling in that great head of yours.

Think Pink,

Elizabeth Millen