On one of many long chats I had with my mother, I said, for the umpteenth time, that I was exhausted. When she asked why, I emailed her a list of all the to-do items I had to get done that week. There must have been—ok, don’t judge—50 items on the list. She shot back this response: “Are you crazy?!”
Maybe I was crazy, but I needed to get these things done. Alas, the week was almost over, and pretty much nothing on the list had gotten done. The list was unfocused, scattered, and messy. I was so overwhelmed and so exhausted that all I wanted to do was take a nap.
The solution, one that I couldn’t see—you know that forest for the trees phenomena—was so simple. This is what mothers are for—to clarify what’s muddy. She told me to identify the three items that had drop-dead deadlines; to prioritize each item from closest to farthest drop-dead deadline; and to tackle each one in that order. I started to say, “Are you crazy?!” But, I held my tongue and listened. Then, I tried it. You have no idea how the weight lifted from my head and psyche. I’ve been doing that ever since.
But, I still needed to examine why I felt I had to do—NOW!—all the items on that list. Here’s what I learned about myself: I’m that highly curious person who wants to learn about everything. One day, on my usual way to learning something new, I happened upon this book, Refuse to Choose, by Barbara Sher. Sher taught me a thing or two or thirty about who I am, and here it is in a nutshell: I get fed from ideas. I’m a “scanner.” Scanning new ideas motivates me to learn new “stuff” because learning new “stuff” energizes me to think about and explore future possibilities and creative ways I might use this new “stuff.” Who knows what I might learn that I can use, so I have to scan it all.
I’ve really never created another 50-item list again. However, the big takeaway from my trip to the land of crazy and back is that my awareness of who I am has given me so many opportunities to smile and be at peace when I’m doing my scanner thing rather than to become frustrated and exhausted. Let me know in the comments if you see yourself here, and share with me what helps you to stop the crazy.