the six steps of confronting your magical thinking (or: see you in two weeks!)

I have two big things that I'm adding to my plate over the next two months.  I committed to them both a long time ago.

In the short term, the small nonprofit I lead is relaunching.  New identity.  New logo, new website, new strategy.  It's happening in a three short weeks, and we're in the final run-up.

So my leadership position there is calling for some extra time.

Through the end of the year, I'm on deck to work on the second draft of a new play commission.  My writing partner, Tamara, has had the writing baton for the last two months, and tomorrow she's passing it to me for my two months before our second draft deadline of December 31.

So that creative work is calling for some time, too.

I've known both of these things were happening--along with two major holidays--but my magical thinking brain has been telling me that I didn't need to change anything in the rest of my life in order to add them to the mix.  

And because I REALLY want to do these things and the things I'm already doing, I've been believing my magical thinking brain.  Or at least not asking it any particularly piercing questions.

Until last week.  When I caught myself calculating just how little sleep I could get by on and still make all these things happen in November and December.  Sound the alarm bells!

When I start bargaining with myself about sleep--not for one night, but as a plan to get shit done--minimalism and simplicity are cowering under the covers while my busybusybusy-lovin' magical brain jumps on the bed in its muddy boots.

And that's when The Six Steps of Confronting Your Magical Thinking kicked into action.

Step One:  Denial.  After I realized what was happening, I frantically tried to find things I could cut out.  And of course, the answer was nothing.  Not a thing.  No, no, no.

Step Two:  Secretive.  I thought:  I write a minimalism blog, for mercy's sake.  I coach people on this stuff.  Okay, maybe NO ONE HAS TO KNOW if I totally overextend myself for a couple of months!  Hooray!  (This is where I used to get stuck, by the way.  I was underslept for decades.)

Step Three:  Bad luck.  I lost/had my wallet stolen after a coffee shop coaching session with a one broken teapot client.  (No fault of the client.)  This is not actually a required step.  I'm including it because I think it may have added fuel to the fire for Step Four.

Step Four:  Quitting.  I swung the other other way.  I stomped around the house, icily and forcefully telling my husband that (1) I am an imposter fake fraud, and (2) I am quitting everything.  Everything.

Step Five:  Coming back to earth.  After I slept.

Step Six:  Simplifying.  Looking at what you want to keep.  And then making some hard choices.

Alright, I like specifics.  It's hard for me to read something like Step Six and actually apply it to my life.  I need to know what the hell that MEANS.  Maybe you do, too.  So my Step Six went like this...

Here are the things that I specifically want to having in my life over the next two months:

+  Time with my child

+  An every other week date with my husband

+  Being ready for my nonprofit's launch

+  Strong work with my one broken teapot clients

+  Writing on the one broken teapot blog

+  Writing on the second draft

+  Some holiday-ness

+  8 hours of sleep a night

+  A generally positive mood

Here are things on that list that I'm not going to cut or reduce:

+  8 hours of sleep a night  (Heaven help me.)

+  A generally positive mood  (Hopefully, I won't lose anymore wallets.)

+  Being ready for my nonprofit's launch

+  Strong work with my one broken teapot clients

Here are the things I automatically know I'm letting go:

+  Reading other people's blogs for the next two weeks :: I have about 6 blogs I read regularly.  They add a lot of value to my life, but they won't make the cut for the next two weeks.

+  Email on my smartphone  (for now) ::  I had slipped back into the habit of checking my email at times when I couldn't respond to it.  During this time when I really want to focus, it was shooting my anxiety high into the clouds.

And here are the hard decision things.  The things I feel sad but right about letting go:

+  Some of my usual time with my child for the next two weeks  ::  This choice is the hardest to admit to.  It feels yucky to write.  But I think our family will all feel better if I make this choice for two weeks up to the launch than if I get no sleep and then try to hang out with her.

+  Making a Halloween scarecrow with my child  ::  I know it's Halloween today.  But I had been holding out hope that I could stop working a little early to do this before trick-or-treating.  Sigh.  We'll still do other Halloween and holiday things.

+  Writing on the second draft every day  ::  For the first draft, I engaged every day for a stretch of time, and that was so good for my writing and continuity.  I'll only be able to do every other day this draft.

+  Writing on this blog every day ::  I like to post every day for lots of reasons that I'll talk about another time.  And I am loving writing for this engaged, interesting, smart community of readers.  But:  hard decisions.  I'll be taking a break from the blog for the next two weeks, and then I'll be posting about three times a week through the end of the year.

So.  Those are my specifics.  I hope it helps to read them.

I'll see you in two weeks.  And I'll let you know how I'm doing in this face-off with my magical thinking brain.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear when you most struggle with magical thinking.  Leave it in the comments, yes?  (And if you want to be anonymous, just type "Anonymous" as your first name.)

This week, I'm exploring what magical thinking does in our lives.  This post is part of an ongoing series on creativity.