Catch the midnight train and don’t leave a note-River City Counseling

I’m in the middle of some challenging transitions.  Looking back through my posts I came upon this and am finding it helpful.  Thought I’d share again.


For those of you who know me or follow what I write, you know I’m all about trying to take care of myself and stay balanced. I work out, practice yoga, meditate, see a counselor, write, read, and spend time with friends. Being fully engaged in my work also helps.

Most of the time, my regimen works pretty well. But right now isn’t one of those times, as I’m in the middle of a perfect storm of tough stuff. One of the biggest is that my office building is being sold, and I’ve been forced to move. Fortunately, the office gods were with me, and I found my new space in, literally, 5-minutes. One right turn, one left turn, and there it was: a beautiful Victorian. (For those of you I see, it’s at 2011 P Street #305, starting on December 4.)

I’ll spare you the specifics of the other transitions, beyond sharing that they’re challenging to varying degrees. And collectively, they’re destabilizing and leave me daydreaming about the Greyhound station. Rather than hopping on the first bus out-of-town, I’ve figured it’s best to hang around and start working on solutions…

Step one: I identified and then visualized my challenges on a pie chart, with everything adding up to 100% of my emotional pie. Prior to finding a new office, losing my space took-up about 40% of my emotional pie, and everything else took-up the remaining 60%. Now that I’ve found a new space, the hassles and logistics of my move equal about 20% and everything else is 80%.

New metaphor: pie to stones. 100% of the pie became 100 stones. So, my office move went from 20% of the pie to 20 stones to carry around in a burlap sack. The remaining 80 stones represent my other challenges. After figuring out how many stones to apply to each challenge, I made piles and sacked ‘em up.

The goal then becomes trying not to remove stones from one sack and put them in another, without good reason. That is, while working out the logistics of my move, I’ve tried not to stress-out about other challenges. I know that if I add more stones to the moving sack, I risk feeling overwhelmed and be prone to hanging-out and checking repeatedly my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and emails, rather than working. Not good…

Some of the time, I’ve thought I was dialed-in and had my sacks in-balance. Then, I’ve caught myself trying to multi-task, which is clearly not my gift. Attempts to work on more than one project at a time turned into a little of this, a little of that, and a whole lot of nothing. Time wasted… (I realize that there’s the whole man/woman stereotype: women can multitask and men can’t. Ok maybe…but that doesn’t help me.)

Instead, I need to start on one project and work on it for a specific amount of time. When I’m done, I can then go on to something else. I don’t necessarily have to complete the projects when I work on them, but I can at least stay organized and see the progress, little-by-little.

Something else seems basic in principle but very difficult to put into practice: I need to ask for help, for someone else to carry some of my stones. I’m pretty stubborn and have these perfectionist traits, which leave me wanting to do things on my own, even when I very clearly should pass the baton to somebody else. Fortunately, my wife is extraordinarily competent, particularly at things that I don’t do very well, and she has taken them over. Although she might disagree, I think I’ve done a pretty good job of not micromanaging and looking over her shoulder.

Let’s be honest. My advice to myself is simple: figure out my challenges, get organized and make a plan, work on one thing at a time, try not to stress about other things while working on this one thing, ask for help when I need it, and take care of myself along the way. It’s tough, but when I step back and get some perspective, I realize I’m doing ok. And ok is good enough for me.

2 Responses to Catch the midnight train and don’t leave a note-River City Counseling
  1. elizabeth
    December 10, 2014 | 4:19 pm

    Good thoughts……One of the most difficult challenges in life is not being overwhelmed…….

  2. Kelly Barnes
    December 10, 2014 | 4:25 pm

    Thank you, Steve. Your decision to re-post this wisdom and experience was VERY well-timed. I’m going to start my pie-chart right now. Bless you!

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