Monday, February 8, 2010

Facing my Overdoing Demon

I may be sounding a bit psycho-babblish tonight, but let's be real. I'm exhausted. The past three weeks have been my own personal tsunami and I'm feeling the wear and tear of sleepless nights, tensed up days and way too much caffeine. All while continuing to function at my part-time job, as well as finishing up a contract project and continuously, and I mean continuously, looking for work.

I'm an overdoer - when I do, I overdo, or as is more commonly referred to - multi-task. For most of my life, my pendulum has swung, and pretty much stayed, on the overdoing side of things. And not just one state of overdoing. I've reached a high capacity of multiple overdoing and again, for most of my life, I've been able to get away from it.

Not any more. Problem is that one of the things I've realized about us chronic-multi-tasking overdoers is that we chronically neglect ourselves. At the core of my overdoing self is a state of the constant audition, but only getting as far as the first or second call back. The self-neglect is inevitable - if I'm doing for many others all at the same time, how can I possibly do for myself?

And just because I have the capacity to do many things at once doesn't have to translate into actually doing them. Just like with the budget we're working on for our household, if I don't prioritize which activity has the most importance and which of the others can support and strengthen the top one, then they all get the same level of attention, which is stretched too far and too thin -- again, like how I've been living financially.

I'm certainly not alone in my overdoing-ness. Every mother I know, and plenty of fathers, regardless of income level or background, are comrades in overdoing. It comes with the territory of the care and feeding of small beings, and from what I understand, it doesn't stop once they're all grown up.

Which brings me to tonight. Why tonight? Because tonight I finally went back to my yoga practice, after almost a week of not being able to pick myself off the floor and get my ass in the studio. And in the midst of coming into "awkward pose," I realized how important it was to stop. To just stop. The crisis is passing and what is left of it will be easier to handle with one simple step. Stop.

As I came out of the posture, the second part of this stopping became clear. It's not only to create a budget, but to create a budget with a clear intention, one with a higher purpose than relieving financial worries. A budget with a purpose. Call it faith-based, call it New Age-y, I don't really care. What I'm tapping into is realizing that unless our family budget is part of a larger picture, it is too easy to let it slip and slide.

As of tonight, day 9 of my 30 day "Water Flows Underground" series, I have given myself to permission to stop doing anything and everything that is not directly related to the following four things:
  • My kids
  • My marriage
  • My health
  • My finances
In other words, I'm going to transform myself from multi-tasking to unchartered territory (at least for me): mono-tasking. That means, I'm no longer available for all the extraneous activities that sap, confuse and distract me from focusing on the above, including things I thought I wanted to do before this recent tsunami hit our household. I'm ready to let those things go because I have to draw the line in the sand, or the snow. If something doesn't fit into the above, I'll be taking a good long look at whether it is worth doing. 

One of the aspects about chronic financial stress is that it impinges my ability to make good decisions, whether it is a rash purchase that was supposed to make me feel better, but instead only makes me more depressed. Or taking a job or a project purely for the money, without taking the time to see how it relates to the above four categories. 

As I continue to navigate the sticky swampy job market, I'll be bringing my own criteria to the table in deciding whether a job is worth pursuing or taking - is the job good for my kids, my marriage, my health and my finances. And the job can't be just good for one of those items, it has to be good for all of them. And if it isn't, then the opportunity will have to be placed on the other side of the line. 

The same thing goes for our budget. If something we've been spending money or thinking about spending money on isn't a yes to all four categories, then the answer will have to be no. A budget is a boundary that protects my family.

And this is where the psycho-babble comes in. This drawing the line in the snow or sand or mud, is all about the same thing: boundaries. I believe completely that the more I'm able to establish firm and loving boundaries within my life, with the people I love and in situations I find myself in, the more I'll be able to apply those boundaries financially. That's my goal.

If I say no to a committee I've been invited to join, or a board position with a worthwhile cause, or take a leave of absence from an activity I used to participate in, don't take it personally.

It's not you, it's me. It's just that I'm working on my budget. For life.


Cool and Crazy Crafts said...

I've read a few of your posts in this series, and I'm appreciating the topic and your honesty. I've been dealing with chronic financial stress myself and thinking about some of things you're writing about.

I have similar priorities: my daughter, self-care, adequate care of the home, and using my skills and passions to contribute to the world. My big fear is that, for me, making enough money might be incompatible with all the rest of the priorities. I'm working on it though!

Here's the one post I could muster on the topic:

Gail said...

That multi-tasking photo at the top of your post says it all--loved it!

Lisa Trank-Greene said...

Thanks Cool and Crazy Crafts, I look forward to reading your post - it is hard to find that balance, but at least if we can try...even just a little bit. For me, it's getting out of the fear-based mentality, the one that got me into this situation!

Lisa Trank-Greene said...

I about "plotzed" when I saw that photo - only thing missing is a kid trying to push me off the toilet!