Deadlines. I have some long-practiced negative catabolic energy around them that always seems to catch me by surprise.
Yesterday I spent a lot of time and energy either berating myself to focus, which is a lot like slamming your foot down on the gas pedal of a car and then careening out of control, or taking my foot off the gas completely, which feels a lot better but doesn’t get you anywhere.
The end result was that I made a little progress on an article I am writing, but I wasted a lot of time and mental energy that could have been better used.
So today, my plan is to more gently and steadily push down on my mental gas pedal and actually get somewhere. The result will be improved mental and emotional wellness, which are key facets of optimal physical wellness.
Just like the old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” I’m going to apply my APPLE principle, which can be used anywhere you want change.
Awareness—What is really going on?
I think at the root of my deadline struggle is fear. Fear that I don’t know what in the heck I’m writing about (particularly if it is a technical subject, which describes just about all of the articles I write.) Fear that all the articles I’ve ever written were just flukes and now the game is up and I won’t be able to do it. Fear that I’m letting people down and negatively impacting others (sources, copy editor, and graphic designer), which comes true when I don’t meet my deadlines. And even fear that I’ll miss out on other things I really want to do, which of course comes true because I’m wasting so much time.
The fear–real or imagined–creates the undesired outcome which just enhances the fear and the spiral gets worse.
Possibility—What is a realistic outcome?
I could absolutely finish this article today, or by Noon tomorrow at the latest. And I can have all the articles for the publication I write and edit done by next week.
Pattern—What are the thoughts, beliefs, or behaviors that I need to shift?
- I am using other things as a distraction—busywork, email, social media, even food (hello extra protein bar that I ate yesterday.)
- There is some self-bullying going on. When I can’t take the bullying, I reach for a distraction.
- Ultimately, I’m avoiding engaging the fear and catabolic emotions that come up for me around deadlines.
Learn—What are new thoughts, beliefs, or behaviors that support Who I want to be?
It’s helpful to recognize that my Gremlin—that inner critic that we all have that tells us we’re not good enough—is behind some of my fears and they are not true. I absolutely know a lot more than I think I do—and I have resources I can turn to if I really need more information. And I’ve been writing this publication for more than 10 years. That’s too consistent a record to be a fluke.
It’s OK to acknowledge the fear and negative consequences. They don’t make me a bad person. And I have proven to myself in other areas—working out, relationships, etc.—that I can still have fears and do the action anyway.
Engage—What are the actions that will bring new results?
- One thing that’s worked well for me in the past is focusing on how awesome it will feel when I get the articles written. That will be my renewed mantra.
- When I am aware of self-bullying or fear, I can stop for a moment and sit with the emotions. And then I can decide to move forward anyway.
- I can hold off checking and responding to email and put limits on social media.
- Prioritizing other tasks can help keep me focused.
- Breaking down the articles into doable pieces and giving myself credit for hitting those marks is another incentive for forward momentum.
Whew! I feel a shift towards more positive anabolic energy and am ready to get moving on this article.
What’s holding you back from being your best self? How can you apply the APPLE principle? How does that help you create sustainable change?
Together we can do it!
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