Your 2013 mileage may have varied, but the last few miles of 2013 were a panic for me. I don’t recall a time when I’ve had such a sense of angst that the end of the year was coming—like I was racing against the clock.
Between the things I needed to get done for my businesses before the end of the year and the tasks I put on myself for initiatives I’m launching this month, it seemed the faster I went, the farther behind I got.
I blame panic. I know the key to get stuff done, especially in a pinch, is organization and focus. But panic short-circuits both.
I hastily discarded as a luxury the few minutes it would take to organize my work and gain composure. Instead, I succumbed to the pressure of the impending deadline and rushed in far too quickly; like a fireman forgetting his ax and hose. Anxiously, I wondered if I could get it all done.
I confess, it felt good to rev the engine—to kick out the carbons, so to speak—and feel the surge of adrenaline. But that mental rush came at the cost of focus. My heighten state of anxiety produced a hypersensitivity to EVERY. LITTLE. DISTRACTION. Squirrels were everywhere and my angst was at a fever pitch.
There’s only one recourse: calling a time out. When the clock is expiring and a football team has too many men on the field, it’s the only option. It’s such a simply strategy, I’m amazed that I don’t practice it more often. Unlike football, I have as many of these as I need. Why am I so stingy with them?
What’s more troubling to me than my inefficient use of time-outs, though, is that I’ve been stingy in something much more important: my courtesy to others. I noticed this recently when a friend and business associate left a voice message asking if I could help her with a presentation she was preparing for. Little did she know that she picked Panic Day to call.
I wasn’t adequately prepared. There was no pre-game locker room advice telling me what to expect on Panic Day. So internally, as I listened to her message, I erupted. You’ve got to be kidding, I told myself. Aren’t there others that can help you? I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS! And I didn’t, so I left her a much more subdued voice message (sans cap locks) to that effect.
Calling back moments later—not having listened to the message—she greeted me with the customary greetings among friends. Unfortunately, I didn’t reciprocate. I hadn’t put Courtesy on the roster for Panic Day so I hastily gave her a few suggestions and got off the call as quickly as I could.
As I reflected during my journaling time on that interaction I made a vow to work on that in 2014. Panic may rob me of my organization and focus, but I never want it to rob me of my friends.
How do you handle Panic Day?