When I began my new job last summer, I printed a picture of an elephant and hung it on my cube wall to remind me, when I was feeling overwhelmed, to focus on “eating” the elephant bite by bite. That sentiment, although seemingly minor, was the catalyst for my pushing through some pretty difficult patches during the transition to a very different company, job and commute.
That same mindset and lesson were greatly welcomed and used heavily this past week. Between travels, presenting at a big meeting and a conference (within day of each other and completely different topics) and preparing a plethora of reports and information for our department offsite next week, I found myself nearly paralyzed by stress last Sunday. I had just spent a few very wonderful days exploring one of my favorite cities with one of my favorite people, but lurking in the shadows were the tasks of the upcoming week. And, without the distraction of my friend, I had come face-to-face with those tasks and the pressures of the coming week, which transferred me back to when I first began my new job and all of the self-doubt and stress.
So, I did what any sane person who has a billion to-dos to tackle would do — I forgot about it all and headed outside. All joking aside, I realized I needed to take a step back and view it all from a different perspective, which meant giving myself a break. I headed outside for a no-expectations run — in that I would walk or run or move in any way that felt good for one hour. What ensued was a glorious run at sea level in a tank top that not only allowed me to sweat out some of that stress, but also to refocus on something else for a bit. It didn’t hurt that I kicked ass and pounded out five miles, which provided a sense of accomplishment, sparking momentum that carried on throughout the tasks and the week.
Upon returning from the run, I refocused on the upcoming tasks from my new mindset, first prioritizing based on the timing of the tasks. I decided I would put the most effort toward the most immediate task and, if needed, chip away a bit at the others. This meant spending two hours Sunday preparing for my big meeting on Monday, but also reading through my upcoming conference presentation one time. It helped me feel like I was still practicing and preparing for the second task, while spending more of my effort on the other.
For the tasks happening later in the week, I read through and understood what I needed to do to complete the tasks, but promised myself not to take any action until I was done with the conference. I also blocked out time on my calendar for Thursday and Friday to ensure I would have time to work on the tasks. And then I prioritized based on complexity, which for me meant knocking out the two easier tasks first. Because I had spent the time understanding the effort required and the task itself, I felt a bit more at ease.
And, throughout it all, I continued to remind myself bite-by-bite and that I can’t do it all — and definitely not at the same time. And, that it will all be okay, even if it isn’t. Luckily, it was all okay and both presentations went really well. I was also able to knock out yesterday the rest of the items for my offsite next week. The presentation part of the offsite is still TBD, but I’m going to focus on this moment, enjoy my weekend and not stress about it. Monday will be here soon enough.
“We walk through so many myths of each other and ourselves; we are so thankful when someone sees us for who we are and accepts us.” ~Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones
week in review
last week’s gratitude: friends
this week’s intention: bite-by-bite
what I’m reading: The Importance of Living + The Accidental Empress + Writing Down the Bones
exploring + time in one of my favorite cities
completed MBSR course
lots of movement + many workouts
coffee + catching up with a friend
hosted + participated in March session of Denver Creates
lots of time spent outdoors
continued to obsess over Beyonce’s Lemonade
attended friend’s bridal shower
celebrated friend’s 40th birthday
drinks + catching up with a good friend
celebrated with good friends for one of my BFF’s birthdays
presented at DWG member meeting
kicked ass at big work meeting
tickets bought for alt-J at Red Rocks
completed final MBSR homework + readings
went on a few dates + met some new awesome people
meditation + self-reflection
wrote + posted kindness begins with ourselves + week reflection
weekend happenings + intentions
catch up on tasks around the house
attend get-together with friends
read + relax
run + finish one of the three books I’m currently reading
time with friends
spend a bit of time preparing for work offsite
breakfast with friends