Life and Work Happen

As I failed to get the post I started two weeks ago to a readable state, and I start thinking about the podcast I still haven’t edited or launched, I started slipping into a bit of an anxiety fit.

I *should* be able to get all of the things I need to get done. If I don’t, it’s my fault. I definitely prioritized the wrong thing, wasted time, or took way longer than I should have one something.

Sound familiar?

Not everyone does it the same way, but I would bet that most of us have a tendency to slip into a downward spiral when we don’t achieve what we’re trying so hard to achieve.

Thinking in Black and White

Developing consistent habits is hard. Giving something a permanent place in your brain is hard. Balancing multiple things in a way that feels good for you, your family, your team, etc. feels impossible… but it isn’t.

It’s important to remember that the way we feel about a given thing isn’t actually how everyone else feels about it. I’m able to remind myself of this when I’m thinking about product experiences or making marketing decisions, but I have a really hard time doing this when it comes to my perception of me.

Yet again, it turns out I’m not alone on this one. People with ADHD have a tendency to think with black and white or “all or nothing” mindsets. Like with most things, it’s not something that it ALWAYS paired with ADHD but it’s common enough to mention.

Detecting Extremes

This week I was late getting one post out the door for this site, and I got to the point of telling myself I should just give up this project before I get to far into it. Guess what?

That’s an extreme.

The second I had that thought, I recognized it for what it was. I laughed a bit and then I saved the other post I was working on and started this one.

Once you can start to associate how you feel with a behavior you want to change or counter, things become much less overwhelming and much more actionable.

Things to look for:

  • Are you assuming others feel the same way you do? I’ve been stressed about finishing things by a specific day only to find out the team wasn’t even ready to do anything with it or that my boss wasn’t expecting me to have it done in the next few weeks.

  • Are you looking at an isolated instance or a pattern? Is this something that happens all the time or are you maybe blowing it up because it doesn’t happen very often.

  • Is there a good reason for why something did or didn’t happen? I was totally offline yesterday being a dad while my wife was out of town. I had one less day to get work done, write content, etc.

  • Was the original expectation you set for yourself based on actual information or did you put the pressure on yourself just because you thought it was doable? There’s a reason we ask for estimates on tasks and for timelines on projects. It’s not about getting someone to commit to a specific day/time. It’s about knowing that they’ve put the thought into the request and have a plan for how to approach getting it done. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve challenged estimates provided by an engineer or designer because I could tell they hadn’t thought through what it meant to actually complete it. Push yourself to do the same with anything that is going to take up your headspace and cause you stress.

I’ll probably write more things and you might just want to read those too.

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