Dig

Life can be overwhelming, especially if you’re responsible for a lot of different things. Speaking personally, making the shift from working for others and freelancing to running a burgeoning company comes with a significant gravity that I’d underestimated. Mishandled, that overwhelm—regardless of your station or resposibilities in life—can easily make you break; a branch snapping under weight, unable to support the demands thrown at you day-to-day.

There are a lot of different ways to “cope” with the pressure. But, I’d argue, “coping” with something is merely another form of acceptance. A way of saying “well, this is just what it is and there’s nothing I can do about it. Better make the best of it.” Untrue. What I’ve learned, slowly, over the last 18 months is that much of the stress in life is self-induced. It’s the pressure of life grinding against our own fears and anxiety, producing a friction that makes you shudder and in some cases, sieze.

What I’ve found is that—like most problems—in order to get yourself out of deer in the headlights mode, you have to stop and think about what’s really happening. When you do, you’ll realize that whatever has you twisted up is often the result of many little things coming to a head, cluttering up your mind. Addressed one at a time and in full, “fixing” these small problems—e.g., keeping your home tidy, watching your health, filling out that paperwork, etc.—compounds into something I’d understestimated the value of before: a clear thought process.

That clear thought process, then, allows you to deal with any amount of traffic coming your way. If it’s raining and pouring problems, you calmly survey the pile—setting priorities where you can—and start digging yourself out. It’s in having a clear mind that you realize: all you have to do is dig. You don’t have to worry about when you’ll be finished or what happens if you don’t dig fast enough; you simply dig.

In digging, soon, as problems start to become resolved you get a natural boost. It feels really good to solve problems of any size and that good feeling compounds. Take out the recycling. Make your bed. Drop that paperwork in the mail. I’ve found that failing to take care of the stuff you think can wait is often the amplifier for everything else. Ironically, it’s actually the “important” stuff that can wait: the work, the demands and expectations of others, etc.

Perhaps this will come across as too simplistic. Life is hard! But a funny thing happens when you just get to it and start digging: life clears up. Things feel lighter. Problems transition from Greek tragedy to spilled milk and over time, the day-to-day onslaught becomes quite maintainable, if not enjoyable.

Just try it. Dig, dig, dig.