The first workday of the new year has come and gone. When I woke up in the new year, I wasn’t feeling as refreshed and excited about things to come as the media was touting I should be. I was actually quite fearful of everything I needed to get done and the uncertainty of change that I was experiencing in my own life. I didn’t make any new year’s resolutions; I find if they aren’t managed properly, they take you to a place that may or may not ever become reality. Instead, I started making lists of everything I needed to get done and was immediately overwhelmed.
I work from my house, so communication at the office is dependent on email. I have four separate inboxes, each of them significantly larger than I felt comfortable with. How was I going to be able to respond to every email that had come in and still be productive? How was I going to address the new onslaught of emails from everyone returning from their own vacations? As these questions piled up I began to experience worry, fear and anxiety.
It is truly amazing how the voice inside my head can spin a story to help validate my current feelings. Rather than being supportive and helpful, it starts to say things like:
“You should be worried. What if you lose this client or that project?”
“Your world is falling apart – look at all the emails you haven’t responded to and all the people you are letting down.”
“You probably shouldn’t even go to work today, or at the least delay addressing the real issues at hand.”
I had to stop this conversation in my head immediately. One way I’ve learned to tackle this incessant chatter is to change my focus and perspective on the world. Rather than overwhelming myself with my emails – I focused on my gratitude list. (At the very least, this list is done when I decide, is perfect whenever I stop, and cannot be judged by anyone.) I started to write down things like:
- I love my wife and she loves me
- I love my kids and they are amazing
- It’s a new year and I made it
- My friends support and love me
- I have survived and THRIVED
- I am funny, intelligent and well liked
- I value all the second chances I have had in my life
As I completed this list the voice in my head changed its tune. It all of a sudden became a cheerleader for me. It was soothing and supportive. I even shared much of my gratitude with those around me like my wife, kids and friends. The simple act of sharing made me smile – regardless of how it was received.
I sat down again and looked at my email. I was refreshed and was able to take baby steps forward. Even though my inboxes and my relationships with my work hadn’t changed, I could control how I viewed and interacted with the world.
Below are a few tricks that helped me reset my day and ultimately my year. Yes, I had to reset the new year on day one and that is completely OK!
- Take any emails older than 2 weeks old and move them to an archive folder.
- Focus on a single mailbox at a time and respond to those issues that can be responded to.
- Schedule a downtime moment.