• Lessons Learned from my Computer (and my dog)

  • You’re up against a deadline.  You are working on your computer on a huge project and have a million browser tabs and files open.  As your fingers fly across the keyboard, the cursor can’t keep up with your speed. Lists surround you, and you are checking off every personal and professional “to-do” with epic speed and efficiency.

    Adrenaline fuels you toward the finish line, making you feel invincible.  YOU HAVE GOT THIS!  Kids are coming home soon, your projects are planned, and while you have taken on too much, you WILL get it all done. Until…CRASH! Your computer totally freezes.  The payment for your kids’ sports isn’t processing, the research for your new health insurance has deleted, and your project is lost.  OH MY LORD.

    Sound familiar?  Computers, thankfully, don’t have these issues as often as they did 10-15 years ago, but I’m certain we have ALL experienced the agony of that out-of-control crashing.  Anger, anxiety, chaos ensue.

    I start with this to describe kind of how life is for THIS mom.  I’m not complaining, but I don’t know anyone these days who doesn’t describe feeling too busy and overwhelmed.  EVEN when we can get it all done, if ONE tiny thing is off, the dominoes fall quickly.

    As part of the Hard NO series I’ve embarked on this year with my friend and colleague, Dr. Amy Cannatta, I want to have a real conversation about how blurred my boundaries have become recently and the extreme measure I’m taking in November.

    System Reboot

    When your computer acts up like that and you call tech support, what’s the most common advice they give?  “Well, Mrs. Ditka, have you tried turning it off, then turning it back on?”

    This is the MOST infuriating expert advice I ever get.  Seriously?  Do you get paid to tell me to turn off the device? But lo and behold–99% of the time, that’s exactly what the device needs.  Whatever it is, this simple magic works nearly every time, and drives me bananas.  It annoys me most that I spent the time to call and didn’t think of this myself, that it required a reminder that turning the device off for a bit is typically all it needs.

    Hm.  Interesting.  A device meant to run like a million human brains, doing too much work at one time, occasionally needs to just turn off?  That it can suffer overload and needs a rest?

    My fur baby, Guinness.

     

     

    We humans are the only species that seems incapable of recognizing overload anymore.  We push harder, revere the multi-tasker, and have invented devices to do the work for us, but we continue to pile on ourselves.  No animal does this.  Have a dog?  Pay attention to their days–they eat, play, sleep.  Animals know instinctively that it is time to rest.

     

     

     

     

    CTRL-ALT-DELETE as a Life Choice

    I had grandiose plans this school year, as outlined in the last installment of this series HERE With my beautifully time-blocked calendar as my armor, I went into the school year a warrior, ready to crush my goals.  My calendar had online classes, the kids’ sports, writing times, charity events–you name it.  I had some lunches with friends layered in. And then, change came.  The first was my choice and an exciting one–a career change!  Ok, to accommodate the learning curve, I let some of those lunches go and scratched out the trips to the gym.

     

    The second was unexpected–both my kids had sports injuries and one eventually needed surgery.  Obviously a non-negotiable, everything came off the table.  And, like a computer with 1,000 browser tabs open, I hit overload and my system crashed. Distracted, worried for my kid, missing details in everything, and missing joyful moments due to my stress, I decided it was time to reboot. November is the time to do this.

    My silly family, decompressing from all that’s been going on with us–these joyful and spontaneous moments are hard to capture with our busy lifestyle, but I am clinging to them before the kids leave the nest.

     

    Think about that formula those tech experts give, “hit your control, alternate, and delete buttons all at the same time.” The system reboot requires all of that.  Turning the machine off for a rest, then back on, does the same thing.  We humans have created a failsafe for our devices that we often ignore ourselves.

     

    Control–we do have some control over the system overload.  When too many tabs are open, taking control of that is critical.  

    Alternate–what’s happening right now, today, isn’t working.  Stress, sleeplessness, distractedness are all compounding.  This requires an alternate plan, immediately.

    Delete–close some tabs.  Remove the obligations you can.  

    And when that doesn’t work, TURN IT OFF and let it (YOU) rest. 

     

    The Plan

    November is still scheduled, but I have whole days with an X in them.  Those days will fill with family time, walks with my dog, going to the movies (which I’m actually doing today!), and reconnecting with joy.  There will always be “have to dos” as a mom and entrepreneur, but the rest is going to have an intentionally slower pace.  I’ve hit the pause on certain aspects of my business that cannot have priority right now, and stepped away from some volunteer obligations.

     

    Taking the lead from this guy and hitting the outdoors, playtime, and maybe even some naps!

    Was reminded that this is an incredible stress relief!

     

    None of it is ever a perfect plan, but hopefully this system upgrade will have my operating systems running smoothly soon!

    How do you disconnect and reboot?

    xo,

     

    Sam

     

    {final three photos in the post are from Julie Kahlbaugh}