The other night I was in a funk and this post almost ended up being titled "Real Men Don't Talk About Depression" but while there is still too much silence and taboo around the topic; I didn't want to take away from the plight of those who are clinically depressed and this post ended up on a different path anyways. I must also credit Carrie Wilkinson of The Barefoot Executive fame for showing me the value of being real (i.e. human) and thus not deleting this post entirely.
As we started the New Year I was both excited and overwhelmed by business and personal objectives. I won't call them resolutions because they are really just continuations of the paths I had set last year.
But there is something magical and crazy about 1 January 2012 as a date. It feels like a new cycle and a chance to instantaneously fix all of the problems you perceive you have about yourself.
So a week into 2012 I was still clearing stuff I was supposed have finished last year and this year's stuff was piling up. Lots of things that needed to get done, lots of people depending on me, and lots of decisions that needed to be made… fast.
Yup, I was pushing myself beyond my comfort zone. Way beyond. And not moving very quickly.
So then I got in a funk. And stayed there. My mood was in a down cycle.
That is not to say I could not function or appear fairly normal. But my spark was gone and I was a little quicker to react negatively to things.
And with it the spark for a thing I value immensely: creativity. For me my creativity is best when I am in the right frame of mind. I don't create on demand.
Being an Introvert
Then last night I remembered reading "The Introvert's Guide to Success in Business and Leadership" by Lisa Petrilli. In her book she uses the most accurate description of an Introvert as someone who loses energy in public situations (crowds, networking, etc.) and needs alone time to regenerate. But that was not it as I was not actually doing a lot of public stuff.
Then I remembered the second part. Introverts often also need time to reflect to make decisions.
I was feeling overwhelmed because I was trying to hold in my head and make too many decisions at the same time without giving myself enough time to reflect. So they were all sticking around and coming back to occupy my attention any time I was not intently focused on something else.
This causes the feeling of being overwhelmed.
I suspect many other business owners, entrepreneurs and people feel this way at times.
The natural defence at this point is avoidance. I just won't do ANY of the things that make me uncomfortable.
Fortunately, There Is A Solution
Fortunately there is a solution and it does not involve quitting my role or hiring someone to deal with everything I don't want to.
It is using a system to get rid of the noise and focus on action.
There are two parts to this system:
- Break big problems and solutions down into bite sized pieces.
- Pick your most important item and take action, focus.
If you don't know what the most important thing is or how to break something down, pick something important and take action that you think will move you closer finding the root of the problem or implementing a solution. Build momentum that will boost your mood.
In our Manifast product we are calling this "My Most Important Work". Some people use a quadrant based prioritization system (based on important/urgent). Whatever works for you.
The system helps with analysis, reflection, (and most importantly for an Introvert) decision making and taking action.
Now that I've recognized one of my triggers for a funky down cycle I can use that knowledge and the system I've outlined to recover my momentum faster.
"I'm not in the mood for creativity" may just be a thing of the past, or at least more short-lived.