At some point in my journey I got stuck. I couldn’t figure out if I should turn to the left or the right, go forward or retreat. My mentor advised me to just do the next thing. Often we think we need to figure out the whole path before we even start. I went to work for a consulting client of mine for a year. They were nearly paralyzed by planning. (I love planning and strategizing, but at some point the car has to be put in gear.) To nudge them in the right direction, I began inviting key employees to lunch without deciding where we were going to end up. I would drive and we would leave the parking lot and ask, “Left or right.” Then we’d come to an intersection and I would say, “Left or right.” After several intersections we’d end up at a restaurant, often one we hadn’t thought of and wasn’t on the list of “normal” lunch times for us. Not sure what it says that after that initial exercise I settled into going to lunch with the same person several days a week at the same restaurant. Then our adventure became that we would only order the special because you got a drink and a meal for $5.
This concept can be applied to cleaning your house when it’s really out of control (I’m sure yours doesn’t ever get out of control). If it is such a mess that you can’t figure out where to start, look around and attack the first thing you see. Once you get started, it will become clear what the next thing is. If it doesn’t then when you are stuck again, look around and attack the first thing you see. In an ideal world you will finish one whole room before you get stuck. Another thing I learned as a coping skill for my ADD is to put a basket at the entrance to the room and anything that doesn’t go in that room I put in the basket because if I go put it in the room it belongs I may see another mess that I will attack.
What about when you are completely paralyzed?? I’ve had times in my life where I felt like I was standing in a room and if I turned right I would hit a wall, then I would turn left and hit a wall and if I went forward I would hit a wall. Sometimes the answer was to do a complete about face. I was in drill team one semester and about face is when you turn 180 degrees from the direction you are going right now.
What does that look like? If you are in an argument with someone, an about face could be stopping to see the situation from the other person’s perspective. I have demonstrated this before with a physical object I have at hand. Like the owl mug I got for Christmas. On one side it says, “Owl always love you” with a small black owl. On the other side it has a larger owl with a pattern. If you and I were sitting on opposite sides of the desk, we would see things completely differently. We could literally get into an argument that the owl was black, no the owl has a pattern. It’s a silly example but it could happen to us at any time if we aren’t careful.
All of us have experiences that change how we see the world. I’ve mentioned that if you choose not to heal you are expecting people to hurt you again. Last year I made a new friend and we would joke around together and tease each other. One week I had to call her twice because I had left something in her car or office. I felt the need to ask her not to say, “You’d forget your head if it wasn’t attached” or tease me about anything related to me forgetting things. Luckily about 7 years ago I was diagnosed with ADD so I have learned lots of coping skills like everything has a place. However it is still a point of insecurity because I heard it so much as a child.
In your personal life, what does an about face look like?