Here’s the thing: you can’t do it all right now. More importantly, you shouldn’t.
So how do you decide what’s in and what’s out? Now, I’m assuming everything you have is good. Everything you have makes sense and is appropriate. Whether we’re talking business plans, travel plans, education, love, family or your next tattoo, there are so many processes, templates, guides and gurus, and so very many equally legitimate ways to accomplish the same things. And, now that you’ve got all that, you have to start somewhere.
You could write a million pros and cons lists. You could call your mother or your best friend. You could throw all the ideas against the proverbial wall and see what sticks. And that might work. Planning, advice and testing cycles are all things I adore as a project manager. Sometimes the project manager has to step aside.
I challenge you to check in with yourself and see what feels right, right now.
Seriously. Get out for a walk. Go for a run, or move through a yoga or dance class. Mindfully take a tour of your body and take stock from head to toes. With everything you have going on right now, what’s going on in your body?
We have so much language around how our ideas process in our body:
- I need some time to digest that
- It was a hard thing to swallow
- We really need to move forward on that
- That knocked me back a bit
- It’s a weight on my shoulders
What would happen if you listened as your body reacts to your ideas? How does your stomach feel when you think about your plan? Are your arms heavy or light when you reach to begin your next step? When did that headache start? Do your feet feel solid and connected to the ground as you walk and consider different options?
Just like dreams, there can be archetypes when it comes to how your body feels but, at the end of the day, your body reacts uniquely for you in your circumstances. So what do you do? Here’s how I listen to my body:
- Establish a mindful practice.
This makes it so much easier to recognize changes and shifts. Like any friend, you get way more out of the relationship if you check in regularly to see how things are going, instead of waiting for a crisis moment and only calling up in a panic. No one wants to be – or deal with – that friend who only calls when they want something. Take the time to regularly notice how you’re feeling, how your body is moving and what is different or unexpected. No judgements. No analysis. Just acknowledge it.
- Recognize that you are feeling overwhelmed or lacking focus.
For me, this shows up as a lack of focus. I feel restless in my arms and am not happy working on one thing, no matter how important or even how interesting that one thing is. That’s my cue to get out of my head and back into my body.
- Connect with your body.
There are so many ways to do this!
- Do an extended mindful meditation to connect with the idea or project at hand. Ah, there we go again…at hand. Imagine holding it in your hands. What part of your body is holding stress or tension when you think about this? Is it a bit of beneficial tension or anxious dread-filled stress? Does your skin glow, or crawl? Do your legs ache to get moving forward or run away? What happens when you shift the idea or project in a minor way? What happens if you drop it?
- Get up, and literally stir this up. Breathe in and picture the project flowing into your body and settling into your muscles, bones and skin. Let it settle into your sub-conscious. Then get out. Walk around. Run. Stretch, twist and jump. Feel what sticks and what falls away. Stop thinking about your plans and just move. New movements bring new perspective and wring new nuances out of existing ideas.
- Wait for it. We’re not used to listening to our bodies. Gods know I can – and do – ignore low level headaches and shoulder tension for far longer than I would if I were listening to the signals my body tries to send me. You might have an epiphany mid-walk. You might not. But it will bubble up. Check back in. Don’t demand a response – simply be open to a new thought, a realisation or a shift in perspective.
In all that you do, you can move forward in all “the known ways that work” or you can move forward in the way that works for you. And, as much as you consciously know, learn and hear from external sources, there is a great deal you can also learn from listening to yourself and your personal, visceral reactions to your plans and ideas.
Plan big, beautiful things! Move them forward with your whole beautiful mind and body.
Find your mindful practice in moments a day – sign up for six simple tools that will guide you to be more mindful and present. Or get a little deeper with an hour and a half of mindful exercises in Mindfulness in a Bottle.