If there’s a New Year when we are going to have to be better, faster, smarter than we’ve ever been before, this is the one.
Over the last several months as we watched the Disaster of 2016 unfold on social media and the nightly news, I stopped blogging. It wasn’t really a conscious decision, but it happened as part of a self-defense mechanism I turned on at the time to keep from losing my mind: avoiding the news. Of course, the news is pretty unavoidable, and I didn’t want to hide my head in the sand. I stayed involved and in touch. But I turned off Facebook completely, worked hard to listen to music or podcasts in the car rather than the endless chatter of NPR, and generally did my best not to read (and hyperventilate over) every ridiculous tidbit of outrageous information about the national election and its cast of infuriating, disappointing, terrifying candidates. Unfortunately staying off the internet that much had some unwanted side-effects, like not blogging, but on balance nobody needed to read what I had on my mind then, anyway.
The week after the election, two friends died. Both were colleagues and mentors, people I’ve admired, loved and respected for many years. Both had cancer and died too young. My grief at their passing mingled with grief from the election, and I dug in deeper.
At the time I worried a little that I was being naive. Sticking my fingers in my ears and shouting “La la la I can’t hear you!” while Rome burned, or something like that. But here’s what I found: Mental space. Turning off the news cycle allowed me to make space for healthier habits like daily meditation and more regular exercise. Handling my business.
I definitely have not been pretending this wasn’t happening. But not chasing after all the drama of what was happening has allowed me to focus much more on what is really important: Staying positive. Staying true to myself and to those who depend on me. Weeding out distractions – emotional ones especially – and sharpening my mind.
Over the last several days I’ve been watching my friends shouting “good riddance!” to 2016, thank God it’s over and don’t let the door hit you on the way out. No argument from me that this year sucked – I wouldn’t wish an American presidential election on my worst enemy. But y’all, 2017 is here now. The year where Barack and Michelle Obama leave the White House and a paranoid egomaniac billionaire and his bizarre family of yes-men and women take their places. The year where Ben Carson is put in charge of stuff we care about.
I don’t need to catalog all the scary crap that could happen this year (and over the next four years). You have probably already made lists, flow charts and logic models, on big paper, of the 2,002 ways that everything you care about hangs in the balance.
I just want to ask you this: What is distracting you? What is cluttering your mind and keeping you from focusing on handling your business?
Get rid of it.
Today is the day. Get rid of the mental clutter that’s clouding your mind, confusing your feelings and making you susceptible to indecisiveness, drama, and despair.
I’m not suggesting a juice cleanse, a yard sale, a de-cluttering consultant or a trip to the container store for a new storage and organization system. Don’t take on one more blessed thing.
I’m suggesting that you look hard, and then turn something OFF.
What is it?