This past weekend, as I looked at my ever-growing list of things to do, I began to slip into overwhelm. You know, that feeling that you must do all the things, RIGHT NOW! My face scrunched up and my shoulders tensed and for a few minutes, I fell down the rabbit hole of there is just no way I can do all this.
Restlessness. It’s a bit of a hard concept to define, but when you’ve got it you know it. It’s that pit of the stomach feeling that things aren’t quite where they belong.
I’ve got it. After recently publishing my novel, I decided I needed to get serious about marketing it beyond the 25 people who were my early fans (LOVE you all!). That led me to an intense 8 week, online course which has been awesome, but the equivalent of drinking from the fire hose. By my nature, I want everything to be done now. So I’m restless.
In my writing, I’ve described it as feeling itchy in your own skin or wearing a wool sweater one size too small. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, but is is bad?
To really look at that objectively it helps to realize that there are really two kinds of restlessness. I call these the Is this it? type and the There’s all this! type.
Is this it? restlessness is the kind that creeps up when you’re least expecting it. Often when things are going well in your life. It’s the feeling that some indescribable thing is missing or about to happen. An almost imperceptible emptiness.
- Why it’s awesome: This often means that something is about to change. Maybe it’s your job, or a new relationship. Maybe your next big burst of creativity.
- What to avoid: The key is to make sure you don’t fall into the trap of assuming that the thing that’s coming is negative. Do this, and you’ll get mired down in dread and miss the big amazing thing right in front of you. Yes, bad things happen. But in my experience they blind side you on a random Tuesday with no warning. There’s no sense in planning for that. Plan for the awesome.
There’s all this! restlessness is far more predictable. It comes when you are in the middle of a change and you have five thousand ideas and tasks and you really, really want them all to be done yesterday.
- Why it’s awesome: You’re in the middle of something really, really pivotal. Maybe you’re changing jobs, moving, returning to school, planning a wedding.
- What to avoid: The key thing to avoid here is falling into overwhelm. Don’t let the volume of work paralyze you into doing nothing. Write all those five bajillion things down. Do them one at a time. (Bird by bird, as the lovely Anne Lamott would say). Enjoy the process as much as the product. Live the awesome.
Are you feeling restless? Share in the comments below what is causing your restlessness and how you’re going to embrace the awesome.