Sailing Off Into the Sunset

I have this feeling that I’m in one of those years where I’m leveling up, and it feels very freeing, but it’s also stressful. In a good way.

2008 through 2011 were very challenging, unsettling years for me where it seemed that everything that could go wrong, did. I was not in a phase of making progress toward big dreams in my life then. If my life was a boat, then my boat had been ravaged in a storm and was full of holes, and I was so busy frantically trying to bail out the water to keep from sinking that I sure couldn’t focus on sailing away to discover new land.

2012 was the year I finally got all that water bailed out, and patched up all the holes. The boat looked a little worse for wear, but it was keeping afloat and I’d found calm seas. Didn’t really get anywhere, though.

And now 2013? THIS is the year of discovery. This is the year where things are actually moving in the right direction. I not only got my own apartment without a roommate, but IT HAS A SPARE ROOM. I upgraded my old beater car to the car I’d been dreaming about for years. I took a vacation to Vegas to hang out with a bunch of strangers from the Internet who have turned out to be some great new friends, and I checked my most dearly held item off my bucket list:¬† I went to see Shania Twain perform live. It’s looking gooooood this year.

But there’s a lot more I still want to do. Things I need to do. Bigger things, things that would have a bigger impact on my day-to-day life. Career things. Expanding-my-comfort-zone things. Taking big risks that have the potential for huge reward or crash-and-burn disaster.

That’s the clincher, of course, is that these things will require me to leap outside my comfort zone, and that is Scary with a capital S. So there have been some freakouts.

My general process for dealing with overwhelm looks something like this:

  1. Lightbulb goes on… big idea! Inspiration! Excitement!
  2. … which lead to more ideas, more than I can keep up with. Write them all down.
  3. Shit, I’m losing some of my ideas before I get them inked on paper. OH NOES I WILL NEVER GET THIS TO WORK IF I CAN’T REMEMBER EVERY SINGLE RELATED BRAINSTORMY STEP. STRESS! HULKSMASH!
  4. Deny & hide. Watch some Netflix.
  5. Turn off Netflix, take a good long hard look at brainstorm notes and attempt to create an action plan.
  6. Realize just how much work this is likely to take, how uncomfortable or risky it’s going to be, and how little time I have to get it done and how impatient I am for progress. This usually hits me in waves.
  7. FREAK THE EFF OUT. Cry for two days and watch more Netflix while talking my sister’s ear off about how my life is so hard and I’ll never amount to anything and this is all impossible.
  8. Get over myself and get to work on that action plan.
  9. Watch as my hard work yields actual results. Celebrate with champagne!

I’m doing a pretty good job of staying focused on #8 most of the time these days, but I’m having my moments of #7. Thank God my sister is a saint but also not a pushover and will listen and offer advice but then call me out when I’ve been navel-gazing for too long. I hope to be able to share some of the bigger stuff I am working on soon.

What’s your recipe for dealing with overwhelm? How do you “do it all”?

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