How to Have a Blast With a Crash

You know, life is fickle, or maybe it’s just me. All together now, “It’s just you, Elizabeth. It’s all on you. You’re the only one who hears the voices. Nobody understands. You are totally, uniquely, unintelligibly…”

Heh.

Ever had one of those weeks when everything feels settled, the hard questions are anwered-ish for now, the reasonable happy plan is moving along… and then, lo and behold, that is exactly when the crapola hits the proverbial fan? In my case sometimes I care about something more than I thought did, and I figure this out right after learning that I don’t need to care about absolutely everything. This week, letting go of a couple commitments was a trigger.

It seems as if the moment I have an open space, there is the potential for a zillion points of light to seep through my theoretically solid plans, like beach sand that gets everywhere. At these times I get my best ideas, and my most exciting crazy-bad ideas. I may see how I can reinvent and recommit to good things I thought I had to leave behind. I’m also unsettled: am I breaking or flexing? Unsettled may be good for opening up possibilities.

If I’m getting enough sleep and remembering to embrace good friends who like to listen to me, these are way, mondo cool, growth times. If I pace myself, remember to eat healthy and take walks, and continue to get enough sleep, the next steps can lead to a very special creative and productive time.

Now you have some hints about why I didn’t share and polish that post about my benchmarks post yesterday. Yes, I’ve had a crazy couple of days. And, now, I do believe I have a few interesting weeks ahead.

The Have a Blast With a Crash Plan

When everything falls apart, a space for new opportunity is made. We can fill up that space with the chaos of trying to re-assemble what was there before. We can also let go and see if that space could shine with growth and creative change. This is how I would do it right, if I’d done it on purpose this time around.

First, get a little ahead, and stay a little ahead, working with a strongly organized system. Clear out the dishes, the laundry, unpaid bills, nuisance errands, etc. You are clearing space for choices, breakthroughs and room to breathe. Enjoy your creativity, but don’t worry about taking on groundbreaking creative projects. Be efficient, but, and this is Very Important, as you start to pull ahead, where possible do not make public commitments to get something done at a particular time. Hoard that open space.

Now, let go of something. Drop an unprofitable project. Sell the time-consuming yet beloved old car at a loss if need be. Drop an expensive hobby that’s lost its charm. Fire a client. Gather up the ex-sweetie’s stuff and pass it on. Leave behind some bad baggage habit thing. If weight loss is your big concern, drop your favorite fattening foods. Go ahead and agonize over the decision, but not too much. Like aches after exercise, the pain will pass. Go ahead and push, gently, firmly. Stretch into the empty ache of your newly emptied space.

Next, let your mind wander, and trust. Why let yourself wander, after having worked so hard to get ahead? Sometimes the mind becomes locked into an inflexible way of thinking, leaving us less able to free our minds to restructure problems or even take in helpful clues that are right in front of us.

“If there’s excessive attention, it somehow creates mental fixation,” he notes. “Your brain is not in a receptive condition.”

Joydeep Bhattacharya, as quoted in Scientific American

Be aware. Here there be breakthroughs. Notice what rises to the surface, pushed by the drive that has been freed up by your newly de-structured and emptied space. This time around I had some pre-existing puzzles to work out, but my ideas didn’t stop there. What surprises me is how many new ideas can appear in the emptiness after letting go of what is not working. Enjoy the flow.

Get support, and support yourself. Network with friends. Don’t skimp on sleep. Eat your spinach. Friends tell me I am fun to watch at times like this, unless I’m not doing so well with the sleep thing. I’ll have to take their word for it. I absolutely love brainstorming.

Think big, move small. The more fantabulous the ideas, the more important not over-committing becomes. If you’re underfinanced or if there are not enough hours in your day, being unprepared can be the dark side of breakthroughs – without being a little ahead to start with, the uneven momentum of inspiration can be disorienting. Try dreaming of small steps. Small is ok – just keep going. Big steps are harder to sustain. Small steps can be the building blocks of big steps.

And there you have it. My mastering the crash plan.

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