The Power of 20 and Managing Fear
Posted on 10th November 2020 at 16:40
The Power of 20
With so many things going on in our lives it 's difficult to know where to start sometimes – deadlines, new client meetings, performance reviews, strategic thinking, sorting out the kids sport and social schedule. Added to this, is the constant call of social media rabbit holes, that are designed to keep us on various platforms and interfere with our true focus.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the constant chatter in our brains of how to manage our mental list of things to do. We then get into the vortex of procrastination coming from the words ‘Pro’ and ‘Cras’ meaning ‘for tomorrow.’ Our focus wanes, the issue doesn't get resolved, the project takes forever and we end up feeling really frustrated and tired of constantly going back over the same old list. Imagine being able to crack this conundrum – everyone of us can do this. So…. rather than being overwhelmed by the ‘Project’ begin to think about it in smaller pieces. Using a creative metaphor - rather than ‘the book’ think about the ‘chapter’ and rather than the ‘chapter’ think about the ‘paragraph’ and rather than the paragraph think about the ‘sentence’.
We could all sit down and write a sentence couldn't we, or write down the first step in undertaking a project? Or clean out one drawer, or make one phone call? If we can agree with ourselves that we will spend 20 minutes on a particular piece of work, the chances are, we will spend longer and get more involved. Before we know it we’re in the ‘Work’. We have gotten over the inertia of contemplation. Our colleagues in the airline and motor industry will tell us that the main energy goes into the takeoff, or the acceleration.
Once this momentum is achieved, the cruising part becomes easy and takes far less energy. With the first energetic step, the momentum will quickly move to cruising. The other important piece is to be where the work gets done. So sticking with the same metaphor, for many writers and artists they will share with us that being in their studio or at their desk is where they find the momentum, even if it takes a while. If we buzz about and are anywhere rather than where we need to be to get the work done, we will of course fail miserably.
So buzzing about like ‘busy fools’ and being anywhere rather than where the work will get done is deluding ourselves and leading us into a possible spiral of self-criticism, frustration and guilt. So having a conversation with ourselves around spending 20 minutes at the task and just getting started means that we have a strong possibility that once absorbed we may decide to continue..
The streak of creativity that has eluded us will continue. For any of you who have the unpleasant task of unblocking a sink drain, you will know that sometimes it takes a number of attempts until suddenly you free the blockage and the water can flow again. Sometimes the process of releasing your controlling mind and the blockage around creativity and tackling something you’ve been avoiding, can lead to amazing synchronicities – the one phone call can lead to greater collaboration, more work, better performance outcomes or a simple boost in productivity. The one sentence can lead to a flow of creativity around how to express a particular idea and leverage that an even more insightful outcome. However, it also means that if that doesn't happen at least we have tried, we have achieved some level of work and then we can go at it again in another block of 20 minutes and the initial step doesn't have to be repeated. The same process can be repeated even if we are feeling miserable – we can allow ourselves to really really feel this for 20 minutes and all the attending emotional turmoil can be released rather than potentially following us for longer and popping up throughout the day. Once we have acknowledged the emotions fully, wallowed in them for the designated 20 minutes, we can move our focus to something else and find the momentum and focus for something that will nourish, expand and fulfil us and give us a sense of achievement (this in no way undermines genuine depressive cycles or mental anguish which is of course completely different). I’ve practiced this way of operating for many years and it really does work. In these times of frustration, volatility and complexity it can give each one of us the power of control and a sense of momentum which is so badly needed.
FEAR - How to avoid False Evidence Appearing Real?
With so many things going on at the moment and witnessing some really difficult stories with our friends, colleagues etc, it can be tough when we have relatively secure bases (shelter, food, friends etc) to understand that anxiety can creep in.
We might compare ourselves to others who are going through tougher with losses, grief etc entering their lives. So surely we should feel and less anxious. Unfortunately our minds don't make sense of our world like that....if our system - hormones, language and behavioural patterns signal that we're fearful, our primitive brain or limbic system react accordingly.
So how do we avoid - FEAR - False Evidence Appearing Real?
Firstly we need to acknowledge that this is a normal reaction. Just because we have different resources does not negate our reactions, emotions or feelings. In stepping into the acknowledgement it's vital to understand what is genuinely threatening, (e.g the house being on fire...) with what is our primitive brain's need to fire off signals and presenting false evidence and 'awfulising' a situation. So a simple technique of questioning 'Is this real, or is it my system over reacting'?
What do I need to do right now to understand my reaction and calm?
The simple act of (a) asking yourself a question and (b) breathing and bringing vital oxygen into your system will allow your limbic system to calm.
Articles and Podcasts
I come across articles, podcasts and some snippets during the month which I'd love to share with you. They inspire me and hopefully will spark something with you.
Great article on the fear behind making mistakes Click Here
Great Article on doom scrolling and avoiding raising anxiety Click Here
An opportunity to listen to Nashreen Sheikh who escaped poverty and an arranged marriage and a job in a garment sweatshop to set up her own business in Katmandu - inspirational - Click Here
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