Thursday, February 16, 2012

Take Five

Ever have one of those days when you feel like you’re being stretched way beyond a reasonable point? Yesterday my day went down like this: I arrived at my day job pumped to engage fully in a project that required my immediate attention only to be sidetracked by three different people with three different tasks of greater priority to the one I first planned to tackle. My head spun instantly and my breathing shallowed to a mere whisper, flirting with my lungs but not quite engaging. Terrible feeling!

I was expected to race from one emergency situation to another.  I’m talking the type of emergencies that are really petty in scope, but are classified as emergency by executives who believe the world will cave in on us all if something isn’t done that very minute. Hold the bathroom breaks. Hold the meals. Hold the water. No time for that. The department has design issues. Oh my! If I sound a little facetious, it’s because I am (big smile).

Sometimes when people rush towards me with a pile of ‘emergency’ items that can’t possibly be put off for another business day, I do this: I close my office door, toss my hands up in the air, and bend over in cathartic laughter. May seem like a nontraditional response, but hey, I’m not so traditional.

I am not a fan of reactivity. I’d much rather be proactive whenever possible. I enjoy when I’m able to accomplish the most important tasks first. For this to happen, priorities need to be set. I think most people would agree that the average person stumbles through the day putting out fires set by others. Placing ourselves in this situation, we're not able to collect our thoughts and logically and strategically plan ahead to avoid these bouts where we are dashing from one end of the room to the other leaving our wits at the door.

I’m a firm believer our wits should never be left at the door. They should be held in the highest of regards because if not, someone is sure to come by and snatch them from us.

Yesterday, my day started to unravel even before I had time to stick my lunch tote in the fridge, before I had time to brew a necessary cup of java, before I could even hang up my coat! Immediately, I started to fall victim to the kind of pressure capable of destroying the human spirit.

What did I do? I shut my door, did my ritual of tossing hands in the air and laughing, and then I took five minutes to clear my brain with some deep breathing. As long as I am on someone else’s dime, I can’t control the external fires being set. What I can control though is how I react to them.

Five minutes of creating clarity was all it took to set my day back on a fruitful track. By any other measure, I wouldn’t have been effective. This is what we have to remember each day when we are tested to the brink. Our sanity depends largely on how we react to a given situation. I, for one, refuse to allow other people’s haphazard reluctance to plan ahead affect me in any unhealthy way. No one wins that way.

Next time you’re frazzled, take the five minutes to balance yourself and face things head on with a clearer, more focused mentality. You’ll save yourself a headache and be giving the best of you to those around you.

Wishing you much peace,

I feel it's critical to support the community, and so I've committed to donate a portion of my book sale proceeds to the NOH8 Campaign (


PrplHayz said...

Excellent post, so very true and one of the best ways to approach everyday life and circumstances, esp when 'others issues' attempt to invade our personal bubbles.

becca said...

grandma alsways said to count to 10 and breath before doing anything crazy

Anonymous said...

This is such an important lesson, isn't it. One I still need constant reminding of or I slip back into letting external issues determine my mood. I become reactive rather than responsive.

It is amazing how just a few minutes of finding your 'breath' again can have such a profound effect on the rest of the day. I just hope I remember when I need to!

fallendaemon said...

As I once learned in the Army - "Failure to prepare on your part, does not constitute an Emergency on my part"

Anonymous said...

What an Awesome Blog/Lesson! Too bad I did not read this a few days ago. This probably could have prevented the panic attack I had. You forget to take that 5 minutes when you are pulled in every direction not knowing if you are coming and/or going. I needed this reminder - I am one who has a hard time relaxing and always aiming to please, but when you are frazzled you are correct - nothing gets accomplished. I am taking this blog and hanging it my cube as a daily reminder to myself to take the 5 minutes to prevent another panic attack. Thank You for the GREAT Blog/Lesson!! Cindy Lou 15