As you may have noticed, I haven’t written here on this blog in about a month.
August 2017 was extremely difficult for me on a personal level (my grandmother passed away, I moved into a new apartment, and a hurricane fell on my home town), so anything beyond the absolutely necessary tasks was far out of mind.
But this wasn’t my first challenging month and it definitely won’t be the last. While I’m far from perfect in my comeback methods, I tend to handle them a bit better each time they dawn on me.
Here are some ways I’ve improved my approach when shit like that happens:
1. Be VERY selective about what has to be done
Sure, on a good week, let’s say 50 tasks get completed for me to feel like I made headway towards my current goals.
But if I really pare it all down, I only need to do about 10-15 of those to scrape by without majorly interrupting any of my business endeavors.
Once my grandma had passed away two weeks before I was scheduled to move apartments, I decided early on that August was a month of “musts” and nothing more.
Mentally letting myself off the hook for the rest (rather than clawing my way through terrible attempts to keep up with with the marginally-important tasks) does a lot to help me feel less overwhelm and guilt.
2. Talk to coach like an adult
When training is in full affect, I’ll have somewhere between 8 and 10 training sessions per week. While they can sometimes vary, a typical week consists of 2 workouts on Monday / Wednesday / Friday, 1 full workout on Tuesday / Saturday, and an active recovery session on Thursday.
So despite how extremely difficult it was for me to do, I had to text my coach him and request that we plan for ONE training session each day for a while until life calmed down a bit. I’d still try to split up the longer workouts into 2 parts when I could, but we didn’t plan on that being the case.
This helped me tremendously in dealing with the travel and extra time commitments that come with relocation. But it almost didn’t happen because I was too scared to ask for the break.
When I say I talked to coach “like an adult” it’s because I KNOW this seems like an objective no-brainer of a request. Any intelligent person who understands time, stress, and rest would agree this was a mature and responsible thing to do — the adult think to do.
But in all honesty, the 10-year-old gymnast inside of me was terrified he would be disappointed in me or think less of my commitment level. He obviously didn’t. Everything worked out fine and he totally understood. We continued to progress through the limited training sessions and are back to the normal workout schedule as of this week.
3. Do a massive brain dump
Once I got my desks, computer, and supplies into my new office, the first thing I had to do was spew my life onto paper. This literally saves my sanity every time I do it.
These “brain dumps” have taken many physical and digital forms throughout the past few years, but my current go-to method for the past few months has been on notecards.
I create a “title” notecard for each main subject in my life and lay them in a row across my office floor. I’ll then continue to write every single task, goal, assignment, or idea as it comes to mind on its own index card and lay it under the appropriate title card. This way I can move it around, make duplicates, add some detail, and see it all clearly laid out in front of me.
This particular brain dump took about 2 hours, 50 index cards and half of my office floor before I felt done. (If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably seen images of this before.)
Once I have a global view of everything, I feel comfortable entering it all into my computer by subject and keeping it as a guidepost for my life until I feel like I need another. I tend to require a session like this 3 to 5 times a year after some large goal has been reached or some big event has happened.
4. Revamp the daily operations routine
Because I have a new workspace, a new daily driving route, and a new workload with the reintroduction of more than just the “musts”, my days will look a little different.
Not hour by hour, because I don’t operate on a strict time clock, but the order of operations has to be tweaked.
In crazy ass August, after my training stuff was done for the day, coaching my athletes came first, 3DMJ base operations came second, then the rest of the evenings were for family and packing and resting. (I need more rest following a difficult phone call than I do for a difficult workout. Emotional stress has always hit me way harder than physical.)
Now that I’m back to “normal” life in September, training takes up more of my day. Then I still focus on my coaching first, 3D baseline operations second, 3D growth is third (including The Vault and other business improvements), then comes my personal time for getting better at all of it. This includes reading, writing, organizing my thoughts, publishing this blog, sharing on my newsletter, and all that other cool stuff.
You’ll notice that even though I have less time, I can still get more accomplished each day now that August has passed. It has a lot to do with the clarity I get from my brain dumps and the decreased emotional load that has been shed from last month’s events.
5. Quit being a jerk to myself
As usual, when I feel like I’m back from one of these tough times, I am so jazzed and excited and I want to do everything as fast as possible as soon as possible.
My obsession with the work at hand consumes me a bit too much and I tend to get frustrated that it’s not all done yesterday. The ideas are fresh, but there are too many to do at once. If I am not careful, I can burn myself out in as little as two weeks if I don’t slow down.
Luckily, Brandon and the 3DMJ guys are keen to this tendency of mine and all really help slow me down for my own good.
That said, I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that I still get mad at myself for not being further along every day. I am learning to ease up on the constant internal disappointment, but I’m still not great at this self forgiveness stuff. It’s a constant battle that I think I’m slowly winning at these past few years.
6. Love people, get flexible, and chill the f*ck out
The last thing I’ll mention here as a tool that has helped me get over tough times is that I have become a bit more nimble in my ways.
When I say “a bit” here, I truly mean it. It’s not a very significant improvement, but I can tell you it’s real.
I am one of the most stubborn, regimented, hard headed, structured people you’ll ever meet. Instinctively, my way is the high way and it makes perfect sense to me and nobody else needs to understand it and I will do everything the way I want to.
However, over the past few years I have grown to care about a lot more people than just myself. This is the main reason I have been able to force myself away from my insane rigidity — to consider other people’s time, needs, and attention is what pulls me slightly off course each day in a way that positively effects my life.
If Brandon is tired, I’ll go to bed with him instead of staying up for 3 more hours reading and writing.
If one of my athletes is having a rough time and needs an emergency phone or Skype call, I’ll move a training session or put off project work to make that happen.
And as discussed above, if life throws me a really crappy month, I’ll make the necessary changes and lower my expectations so I don’t get too frazzled and depressed about the difficult things that I cannot change.
I still don’t particularly enjoy when things throw me off course, but they don’t completely ruin my world like they used to. Practice and perspective help me get a tiny bit better at this with each passing year.
So that’s me coming back in a nutshell.
I hate when I’m gone. It makes me angry. But I know it’ll happen again so I best try to document the process and figure it out so it’s less shitty the next time around.
If you got any other cool personal methods, feel free to leave them below