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Fear: Why We Can’t “Just Be”

Fear: Why We Can’t “Just Be”

    We are busier than ever. Technology is leading us down the road of being able to be busy wherever we go and at any time. It’s a constant stream of information that comes in, is processed in some way, and then goes out. We tell ourselves that we have to “make something of ourselves” and that we must always be creating to keep our edge. Yet, we have to consume information to “be-in-the-know” to keep that same edge.

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    It’s tough to “just be” anymore. Why can’t we stop for moment and see things for the actual way that they are? Why do we have to keep ourselves busy, obsessed, and “passionate” all of the time?

    Fear of what is real

    For many people the thought of stopping to feel anything that is real in their lives is a distant afterthought to all of the projects and actions that they have forced upon themselves (or been forced upon by others). I know that this is the case for myself. I’d most times much rather check things off a list that I can make endless for myself than stopping, getting out of work mode, and see my surroundings for what they really are. If I stop to take a look at what things truly are, then I may have to make a change in my life and change is hard.

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    The thing that we forget to realize is that this “stopping and being” is just another part of staying productive. If we don’t face the fear of seeing things for the way that they truly are because of the perceived pain of change, then we could be setting ourselves up to take on projects, actions, and even goals that don’t mean a damn to us.

    Fear of the uncertain

    Fear is a strong motivator, but it tends to be in the opposite way that we would like. Fear of uncertainty is another reason we have a difficult time stopping and being. I’m always freaked out that I won’t have enough money to take care of me and my loved ones. This uncertainty of the future motivates me to do things that are possibly not the greatest for me, like take and keep jobs that promise me decent money but don’t give me personal satisfaction in return, or take on side work that I know will help pay for things, but could leave me little time for anything else.

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    We don’t completely know what tomorrow will bring. Or even a minute from now. But that is a constant. We can plan for that uncertainty and face it.

    What to do about it

    The tips below are practical and possibly obvious, but that’s a good thing. The fact is that they work, but only if you work them. Most people won’t work them – they will scan over them and continue on. If you are experiencing the fear mentioned above, don’t scan these and move on. Try them out.

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    1. Plan times to stop and be for a moment every day, multiple times a day. You don’t have to be Buddha, here. Simply stop for a moment outside of your email, phone, notifications, and anything else that keeps you busy. Stop and breath deep through your stomach. You can think whatever you want to think, just try to come back to your deep breaths.
    2. Plan times to write every day. You don’t have to be a poet or autobiographer, here. Simply get out pen and paper or your trusty plain-text editor and write your ass off. You can write about anything that you like. You may find some of these fears mentioned above start to come out. It’s a good think to notice them as it’s the only way to face them.
    3. Plan times to be with your friends and family every day. You don’t have to be the Partridge family or everyone’s BFF, here. Simply hang out with the people you love and remember why you love them. Also, remind yourself why they love you. We tend to think a lot about ourselves and not enough about others that are important.
    4. Plan time to plan for a moment every day. You don’t have to be a professional project manager or Mr. Allen, here. Simply take a look at your workload that is front of you (helps when you have that already defined!) and make decisions on what can stay, what can be gotten rid of, and what you should really be working on next. This step is much, much easier and closer to what you want and need to do when it is followed by the above three steps.

    Conclusion

    Stopping the rat race of your productive life can be tough. Especially since it feels that you never have enough time or energy to get everything done. The thing is that you may not need to get it all done. The only way to find this out is to face your fears of what is real and your uncertainty of the future by stopping and being everyday. Only then can you make the decision of what work you should keep in your life.

    (Photo credit: Crying woman via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on December 2, 2018

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

    The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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    The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

    Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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    Review Your Past Flow

    Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

    Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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    Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

    Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

    Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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    Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

    Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

    We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

    Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

      Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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