Have you ever had one of those moments where everyone is singing or talking loudly, and then they stop but you keep going until that mortifying moment when you realize you are the only one making noise, and everyone is staring?
Of course, I just mean this theoretically, that’s never happened to ME.
But anyway, another version of the story is all the different voices we have in our head – the critic, the perfectionist, the cheerleader, etc. And when they all quiet down except one… well, it’s pretty easy to spot.
Yesterday, while I was pouring a cup of spicy chai tea, I noticed a tightness in my stomach and an uneasy feeling. Things were quiet… quiet enough that I actually heard a voice that often gets lost in the din. While I was hoping to sit and relax with a cup of tea, there was a voice that was actively opposing my plan. “You’re not doing enough,” he rasped. “In fact, YOU are not enough.”
When I looked closer, the signs were unmistakable. It was my Productivity Boss.
He has a certain set of preferences. I should be doing things that make money, that look good, that were written in my planner for that day or that are done at a gallop. Or, as Stephen Covey would say, those in the category of “urgent, but not necessarily important.”
So when I slowed down, he filled me with a sort of aching anxiety as he fretted in the background with these doom and gloom prophesies and visions of living in the streets just around the corner (no one can accuse him of being apathetic in his proclamations – perhaps Shakespearean theater would be a better outlet for him).
I paused, I breathed, and then I did one of the things my Productivity Boss hates most. I did a reality check.
The past week I have been doing a healthy eating cleanse. What this meant was a lot more time around food – hours spent shopping, chopping vegetables, sautéing, cleaning, spicing, etc.
This is a strong value for me – I want to bring even cleaner eating into my life so I can increase energy and focus for the things that matter. Problem is, that means little to my inner Productivity Boss.
I looked back on my day. True, I had not spent as much time in the office and had not written like I’d meant to. Five points to Productivity Boss. On the other hand, I had spent that time grocery shopping and prepping a healthy lunch. I had spent 10 minutes stretching. I had taken a walk and gotten some interesting business ideas. And so far as I could see, my life was NOT going to hell in a hand basket, despite his sputtering.
What I realized is that he’s just there to keep the status quo, and when I’m running around unconsciously following his direction, I feel overwhelmed as if I’m never doing enough.
But when I can breathe, see him for the misguided little man he is, maybe even give him a virtual margarita and send him to a beach chair, then I can move forward with MY version of productive and creative living. It feels so much saner. He may pout, but I am the one who is gleeful.
I’d love to hear the signals that your Productivity Boss is wreaking havoc in the background. How do you know he’s there (words, a body sensation?), and how do you diffuse him? Please share your thoughts below in the Reply box …
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Carolyn Scarborough is a professionally trained creativity and writing coach. As founder of Backyard Pearls, LLC, she helps coaches and heart-based entrepreneurs to unblock their creativity so they can connect with and express what’s deeply meaningful to them. She leads retreats, telecourses and does private coaching with new writers, experienced writers, and those who simply need a creativity boost to launch business and writing projects. She is the author of “Backyard Pearls: Cultivating Wisdom and Joy in Everyday Life,” and is an award-winning magazine writer who has published more than 500 articles in publications around the world.
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