I work with a lot of clients who are too damn tired to change. I get it. I was there once too. You're in a job that you're fairly sure is not the job for you. You work full-time, five days a week, and you come home at the end of each day spent like somebody's last dime. You aren't just physically tired; you are mentally drained. There was a great article in the New York Times a few years ago that explained the concept of decision fatigue. For many people, their day consists of millions of micro- interactions via phone, text, email, or meeting that lead to this certainty: exhaustion.
Every weekend you rest and then you set the intention to work on your escape plan the following week after work. You're going to apply for a new job, network on LinkedIn, start writing that novel that's been trapped inside of you since you were fourteen, or begin research on your business plan.
And every night after work, you are too tired to begin. With every week that passes, you start to lose hope. You cannot see the light at the end of your tunnel. In fact, you start to question if you've ever even seen the light. Maybe you imagined it. Maybe the darkness is all there is.
You feel much older than you are. You have a vague recollection of your younger self: ambitious, energetic, and passionate. But increasingly, that person feels like someone you read about once in a magazine article instead of the younger you.
This is the Catch-22 of change. When you are inside of it, before you gain the ability to name it, it's hell. Hell is the place where there is no hope.
Naming is a powerful mechanism for change, so let's go ahead and get really specific about your predicament.
You are investing in your pain. If your pain is a stock, you are pouring money into it. What, exactly, do you expect will be your return on this investment? The vast majority of your time and energy is being devoted to a situation that perpetuates your pain. And then you bemoan the continued existence of your pain. It's a bit like cooking lasagna for dinner and then when you sit down to eat, you scream, "Lasagna?! I don't want lasagna! I hate lasagna!"
Invest in your future. Invest in your joy. Cook what you want for dinner.
But how? How do I do this? How do I invest differently?
Here's a critical truth that more of us need to master: spiritual energy is infinite. Human energy is not. Let's say, for example, that you get 100 energy pods each day on average. Some people eat like crap, smoke, drink, and don't get enough sleep so maybe they only get 80 pods. Some of us take really good are of ourselves so maybe we get 120 pods. But let's work with 100 to start. That's what you get. That's what you have to work with in this human form. How are you going to spend your 100 pods today?
Right now, you spend 90 pods at work in the job you don't even like. You have 10 left when you get home. You use them to push start on the microwave, to help your kids with their homework, and to continue your favorite Netflix binge. 100 pods spent.
I once heard a financial consultant put budgeting in the simplest terms: you can either spend less or make more. Your human energy is no different. To make a change in your life you are going to need energy. Starting your business, writing your book, moving, or traveling all take energy. Your choice is simple: you can either spend less pods or make more, preferably both.
How can you spend less pods? Let's be really practical about this. In the scenario above, you spent 90 at work. That's your energy sucker. Solution? Invest less energy into the job you are trying to leave.
Say no. Set boundaries. Use your vacation time. Ask for help. Move on. Ferociously guard your energy.
There's a great theory called the 80/20 theory of productivity that argues that 20% of the people do 80% of the work. Yet miraculously, we don't have 80% unemployment. Are you one of the 20%? Take some time to evaluate whether you are doing the work of ten people instead of just one. Adjust accordingly.
In short, stop investing so much into the work that you don't want to do anymore so that you have more to invest in your true purpose. Spend 50 pods at work. Now you have 50 left at the end of your day. Meditate, exercise, eat well. Stop drinking so much. You just earned 20 more pods. You're home from work and you have 70 energy pods to invest. Hell, you'll give 20 to your kids, family, and home. You've still got 50 left. Time to work on your resume, write the book, or book the trip. Time to break free of the catch-22 of change.
Wednesday already?! How did that happen? Anyone else feeling like Titus? What? You haven't watched The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix? Go. Go now. Drop everything.
In the face of that feeling, this has been my mantra this week:
Whenever I start to feel overwhelmed, I remind myself to just let go. Sometimes I'll say, "This is as good as it gets." There's no alternate reality where my dog is well-behaved or where people don't get head colds or where the dishes do themselves. This is our beautiful, imperfect world. Might as well enjoy the ride.
Now on to my Wednesday reads!
I'm still reading Gabby Bernstein's Spirit Junkie. I take my time with books like this because I'll often want to stop for a few days to reflect on the lessons I've just learned. The chapter I'm in now has really got me thinking. It's about the "F" word: forgiveness.
One of Gabby's main points is that when we hold on to anger and resentment, we are hurting ourselves. Forgiveness frees us. But easier said than done, which is why I'm taking my time and processing this chapter to look for places within myself that I might still be harboring resentment or tending to old wounds. Letting go of our hurt is hard because it strikes right at our pride. Plus, we've often built habits around our resentment, so that it starts to feel like who we are instead of something we've attached to, like our childhood blankie. But it's not who we are. We can let go. A bunch of adults walking around with blankies would look pretty weird, right?! Wait...
Confession time. I quit one of my reads from last week, Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See. Quitting a Pulitzer Prize winner is a particular kind of shame, but we all have our crosses to bear. Plus since I'm practicing forgiveness this week, I can forgive myself. Phew. If you'd like to read some of my thoughts on quitting books, check out one of my prior pieces HERE.
Why did I quit? I felt like I was eating in a 5-star restaurant when I was in the mood for pizza and fries. The book was so well-written, like word art. But today, on this day in my life, I have a lot of intellectual and creative endeavors on my plate and I don't want or need word art, I want a book that grabs me and won't let go. Like this book:
You may know Gillian Flynn's name because she's the author of Gone Girl, which is the gold-standard in psychological suspense, the genre I'm in the mood for right now. I finished Sharp Objects in about a day. Smart and sharp, really.
Which got me thinking, I need more books like this in my life. I did a search on a website that has served me well in the past: What Should I Read Next? and it directed me to these. They all look like great summer reads for those of you who want to get lost in a book. And Gillian Flynn even wrote a blurb for one! I think I'm on the right track. Have you read any of these? Where should I start?!
Happy reading and happy hump day!
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