Some days I just don’t feel like it. Like today, when it’s been raining here in Mid-Maryland for what surely must be 40 days and 40 nights.
I don’t feel like doing what I need to do. I certainly don’t feel like doing what I should do, some of which is there on the table getting drenched, yet again.
I have a deeply entrenched case of the yucks.
Over time I’ve learned some really helpful steps for addressing yucks, even when the weather is relentlessly bad.
1) Check in with myself. When I have a case of vague malaise, of icks, of “I don’t wanna,” the best first step is to check in and see if it really is vague, just plain icky, or unmotivated. First questions in the check in are all pretty basic. Did I get enough sleep? Have I eaten anything nutritious today? Have I taken care of myself in all the basic ways this morning? If no, can I fix that? If I can’t fix that (i.e. I’m already in the car on the way to a meeting that will last all day and is absolutely non-negotiable in attendance because I will be executed if I don’t attend the entire event), I gently remind myself that a big part of the reason that I’m feeling blechy is likely due to this underlying physical complaint of exhaustion, crap food or the lack of a bracing shower. Doesn’t solve the problem, but sometimes simply acknowledging this basic cause prevents me from beating myself up all day about not being 100%…. we can talk more about that another time.
2) Check in with my other self. No, I don’t have multiple personality disorder… at least we don’t think we do. After doing the basic physical check in, I find it useful to take a quiet minute or two to ask myself if there’s something bothering me. Am I worried? Am I scared (usually this – ack)? Am I angry? Is there something going on in there that I’m doing my darnedest to avoid, to stuff in the sock drawer, to eat like some kind of poisonous smoothie? So often for me malaise has everything to do with feeling overwhelmed and scared about what’s in front of me. What better response to fear than a good case of the sleepies? Is there an emotion in there that I’m using all my energy to box up and tuck away for another (never ever) day? If I suspect there’s something in there, in that little box in the dark cave, I try to really let myself feel that. I need to see what’s in there, feel the feeling, think the thoughts attached to it actively, pull out that box and take the lid off. If a lot of emotion comes up with that, I sit with it for a minute or two, let it be, let it exist, feel it instead of trying to squash it. It often passes remarkably quickly so long as I don’t try to talk myself out of whatever feeling it is.
3) Check my Goals/Task List. Now what about that list of stuff you’ve got going for the day. If you’ve uncovered some feeling that has no apparent reason for being there, and you’re not already in the car (can you see I am very opposed to multi-tasking while driving), take a look at that list and get really honest with yourself. Is this really what I want to be doing? WAIT a MINUTE you say… My days are not about what I want to be doing. My days are about what I HAVE to DO. (Yours might actually be in all caps). I’m going to ask you if that’s absolutely true. Is it absolutely true that every item on that list is imperative. How about the very worst items on the list? Will someone expire if you don’t do them? Will you be fired? Is there any part of you that wants to do them?
If you’re feeling the yuck increase as you look at that list, I’m going to humbly suggest that you apply a great Martha Beck procedure to that list. Identify those items that are causing you the most grief and see if you can’t find a way to bag them, barter them, or better them. Don’t really need to do it? Bag it. Just bag it. Delay, defer, delegate whatever other verb that starts with “d” that gets it off your plate – DO THAT. Can’t bag it? Barter that thang. Trade with someone who actually likes doing that stuff, and do what you like to do for them. Could be that friend of yours would be happy to fix your Excel spreadsheet if you would just weed a flower bed. Win, win! Can’t barter it because nobody else wants to do it either? Better that baby. Find a way to make it more tolerable. Play Janis Joplin while you do it. Drink your favorite overpriced coffee drink when you finish. Do that task in smaller chunks that don’t seem so awful. Bagging, bartering and bettering can make that list smaller and FAR more appealing. What do you do then?
4) Remember “Massive Action.” Now that you’ve got a more reasonable and appealing list in your hand, it’s time for some massive action. I recently ran into this idea in Brooke Castillo‘s Life Coach School podcast. In talking about getting results that you want, Brooke Castillo describes massive action as a commitment to continue to take action toward your goals until you get the results you’re looking for. There’s an acknowledgement in the notion of massive action that there will be failure, that things will go wrong, that you will make mistakes, and that you will have days when you don’t really feel like doing it. With massive action, you commit to sustained and persistent action in pursuit of that goal. You commit to acting with whatever you’ve got, which means there will be days when your actions aren’t as effective, aren’t as plugged in, don’t feel as energized, but massive action demands actual action. After you’ve whittled that list down by bagging, bartering, and bettering. DO the STUFF. Take some action. Work that goal. Check a couple of boxes. And when you’re done…
5) Self Care. Wrap yourself in a big old blanket and give yourself a big hug. Congratulate yourself for being honest, for being you, for listening to yourself, and for doing the stuff too. That’s a big day. You are awesome.
Take that endless rainy weather! Take that overwhelm! Take that dumb list of stuff I don’t want to do. I’ve got some massive action to work on.