Thursday, April 23, 2015

On the Edge: Changing Direction to Land Where You Want to Be—Part 2

Last week in Part 1, I wrote about standing on the edge, high above a rocky landing below, thinking about swan diving to a place of giving up on something important. On the edge with overload. On the edge with burnout. On the edge with overload- and burnout-induced apathy. Staring at a landing where we do not want to be, realizing it is time to back up and take a look at how we got there. 

I cited my recent difficulty writing for this blog twice a week, as I had not only determined I would but had, so far, done a pretty good job doing. My personal writing discipline of choice, it was and is important to me. Then I realized (even after wrestling with some procrastination caused by perfectionism) that I was on the edge, staring at all the ailments above, threatening to push me over the edge with my writing, affecting my ability and even wish to write.

Are you there in some area of your life? Here are my conclusions for what to do about it.

Overload: Identify what is unworthy. Well, duh. Advice abounds about avoiding over-commitment (people pleasing; Type-A personalities) and time wasters (TV and the Internet are at the top of most lists). For me, though, standing at the edge of overload meant some over-commitment in my work, yes (and I am dealing with that), but also the necessity of reevaluating my commitment to write for this blog twice a week. It takes more hours to write a single blog post than some might imagine, and I had to balance those hours against the benefit. My conclusion? I will now be posting only on Thursdays, with the occasional bonus post. I may be in some ways a Type A- personality, and I am not saying I don’t indulge in time wasters, but for now, even that second weekly post was starting to be, on balance, an unworthy overload. It had to go. What is your unworthy overload? 

Burnout: Feed what will keep the flame. I’ll just confess it clearly: I thought I would be okay without a spring break, at least a week without working. But working almost non-stop since our vacation in October has not been a good idea. I was wrong. My current work commitments—even with some deliberate pruning—do not make it possible to carve out a whole week until our planned vacation in June, but I am actively looking for some breaks that will alleviate the burnout I feel coming on instead of pushing full-steam ahead. What is pushing you toward burnout? 

Apathy: Fight by doing what you love . . . anyway. I used to enjoy some things that have all but disappeared from my life. Often I just have not felt like going to the effort (or maybe allocating the funds), and eventually those activities were not even much on my radar. Depression? No. Aging? Nah. The truth is, I let life changes (mostly good) allow both some laziness and apathy to take a stronghold in many areas of my life, and then when the above overload and burnout began their push in my writing life, apathy raised its hand and said, “Ooh, ooh! Me too! More of me!” All together, approaching overload, burnout, and increased apathy make the proverbial vicious cycle. So while I have to avoid making promises I might not be able to keep, I will say I am actively looking to reinstate some things I used to love back into my life . . . anyway. After all, I need something to write about! What apathy in your life do you need to combat? 

Standing on the edge is different for everyone—its causes, its preventions, the severity of its potential landing places, its solutions. Sometimes there is nothing we can do to avoid being there, because life happens. Yet none of us wants to land where we do not want to be, or, may I say, where God does not want us to be, if we can help it. Yes, if you go over the edge, He can restore you, no matter how many pieces you or a dream have shattered into if you hit that rocky bottom. But I leave you with this, the ultimate, foundational solution for anyone standing on the edge to change direction and move toward where they really need to be. And isn't that what we all should want?

In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:6 NIV)



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