I’ve got a lot of ideas. Like a lot. All the time. Let’s start my own tea class, publish a novel, set up my house, move in with my boyfriend more than we already are, start a coaching business for youth – you know, the list goes on. I’m never really at a stand still when it comes to things I could be doing. Creative minds are the bomb.
But here in lies the problem. As much as I have an endless supply of ideas, so does everyone else. Or at least that’s certainly how it feels when I tell someone what I’m thinking and they come back at me with a million ideas of their own. To be honest, it makes me apprehensive to open up to anyone about the things I’ve been thinking, and here’s why.
Maybe it’s just me, but I’m only capable of keeping so many things in my head at once. Okay, so I need to get past my anxiety so I can drive. I have to buy bed sheets with my boyfriend and somehow drag him out of the house, chores need to be done, I’ve got at least seven different projects on the go that all have somewhere around 20 steps each, and that’s only the beginning of my to do lists. All that, I can manage. I keep myself organized, write lists, set goals, and make progress every single day (or at least try to), but then someone always comes along and ruins that balance for me. They start telling me their ideas of what I should or could be doing.
Now don’t get me wrong here – I’m not saying any of the ideas are bad. On the contrary, they’re often quite good, going into details of things I hadn’t yet thought about or considered. I appreciate everyone’s (usually my parent’s) willingness to help me out and point the way for me, as it were, but more often than not, it just leaves me overwhelmed.
I’m like a cup filled to the brim with water, okay? That water represents both my thoughts, and the delicate balance I keep in order for those thoughts to not overwhelm me. It’s pretty easy, to be honest, and most of the time I don’t have trouble with it. But then someone comes along with their ideas, and starts dropping more water into that cup, and suddenly it’s overflowing. Now I have to deal with the mess (my sudden risen stress and anxiety levels), and somehow try to get my cup balanced again. Not easy.
So here’s my question, and it’s not that I’m saying that other people’s suggestions and ideas are junk, but how do you throw out the trash so you can prevent your cup from overflowing, while still keeping what you need in there?
My trick? Take a nap. No, honestly. I find lying in bed, completely separated from the world and my endless to do lists really helps. It gives me the space I need in order to refocus, clean up the mess, and prioritize what’s important and what’s not. Yes, driving is important, but it’s more important that I find a way to make money. Yes, I want to build myself a bit of an office out of the spare room we have, and having the extra space to work and concentrate will help me make more progress so I can move forward and make money faster. Maybe studying Japanese is something I enjoy, but it’s not going to make me money at the moment or help me progress in any of my other projects, so perhaps it’s best to put it to the side for now and pick it up later. You see? If I’m so caught up in the fact my cup just overflowed, or all the stress of the things I have to do, I’m never going to be able to prioritize properly. That’s why removing yourself from the situation is one of the best ways to ‘take out the trash,’ as it were.
Another of my favourite methods is literally just tossing things out. Sometimes I’ll do it mentally (yeah I really don’t need to worry about this right now), or sometimes I’ll do it physically, by writing a list of every single thought in my head, and then erasing the ones I don’t need anyone. That way I’m only left with the things that are important.
But here’s the dealio: when everyone seems to have their own ideas, it makes what you’re thinking suddenly seem incomplete, as if there’s no point in being confident in what you’re doing anymore, unless you take all the suggestions given to you. This is probably the biggest reason why it escalates my stress so much – because suddenly I feel as though I’m never going to pull anything off unless I do the things told to me. Because really, what the heck do I know about starting up my own businesses?
In which case, another part of taking out the trash would be found in my own need to build up my confidence and have enough faith in myself and what I’m doing, that no one can ruin my conviction, if that makes sense. Yes, it’s good to listen to other people. Often times they can see things in situations that I can’t, and I don’t want to toss that out and dismiss it without a second thought. However, I need to be secure enough within myself that other’s beliefs or opinions aren’t going to necessarily change my world view every time someone says something. Not that it’s a skill I can just learn over night, but it’s a process I’ve been working on for a while now.
Then again, the whole idea of taking out the trash in general is a bit of a learning curve. What do you guys do to balance out ideas and avoid unneeded stress?