Friday, April 16, 2010

Your "Plumb Bob" Keeps You Centered in a Crisis Crunch

By Julie Rahm

How often do you feel stress, tension, and anxiety, because you have more tasks to do than you have time to do them? Almost all of my clients come to me with over-tasked lives. If everything goes smoothly and they estimated their task times to completion accurately, their days go well. But what happens when something changes? It’s all a matter of priorities.

If that sounds like your life, the metaphorical tool you need in your tool belt is your plumb bob. A plumb bob always points to the center of the earth. Your metaphorical plumb bob points to the heart of the matter and keeps you centered in a crisis crunch.

Imagine you’re a mom at home with young children. You have a babysitter booked later today, because today is your best friend’s baby shower and you are bringing the cupcakes. You have been focused on the shower for days, anticipating how much fun it will be and how great it will feel to have adult time with your friends. It’s still only 40-degrees outside and your heat pump is broken. The repairman assured you he would be at your home by 10AM. You agreed to watch your sister’s children at your house this morning while she runs errands. And, you have your usual responsibilities to fulfill keeping your house, grocery shopping, and caring for your children. Your three-year-old wakes up that morning and says, “Mommy, I don’t feel good”. You feel her forehead and know her temperature is high. What happens now? You make an appointment with the doctor. The only appointment time available is 10AM. You are no longer available to watch your sister’s children. The babysitter will not come, because your child is sick. You know how disappointed your best friend will be if you do not come to her shower. How do you prioritize your day so that you feel good when the day is done?

Take the Plumb Bob Priority Quiz.

Answer the question: What is the end result you can’t live without?

The end result you cannot live without is your child getting well.

Get to the heart of the matter and determine your priorities by answering these questions.

1. Is there a physical safety risk?

2. Is there a financial safety risk?

3. Is there a relationship risk?

4. Is there an emotional/mental/spiritual risk?

5. Is there an integrity risk?

6. Is there a values risk?

Is there a physical safety risk? Yes, your child is sick. And, it is cold outside and you have no heat.

Is there a financial safety risk? No, your income stream is not affected.

Is there a relationship risk? Yes, your sister is expecting you to watch her children, and your best friend is expecting you to come to her shower and bring cupcakes.

Is there an emotional/mental/spiritual risk? Yes, you really want to go to the shower. It is the first time in weeks you have planned anything for yourself. You feel disappointment, resentment, and a flood of negative emotions and thoughts wash over you.

Is there an integrity risk? Yes, you gave your word to your sister and your best friend.

Is there a values risk? Only you know your values hierarchy. If “family” is at the top of your list and you put your child’s needs first, then the answer is no.

Once you identify your priorities, use your metaphorical utility knife to release the remaining tasks and relieve yourself of the burden of getting them done. Some possibilities for releasing the burden are:

1. Ask someone else to do it for you.

2. Break it down into smaller tasks and allow more time.

3. Do it on another day.

4. Don’t do it at all.

What does that look like? Reschedule the heat pump repairman, who is willing to rearrange appointments and come to your home at the end of the day. Take your child to the doctor. Offer to watch your sister’s children on another day. Call a friend who is also invited to the shower. Ask her to stop at your house to pick up the cupcakes and take them for you. Call your best friend, explain that your child is sick, and agree to celebrate together over lunch on another day. Use your metaphorical utility knife to cut out thoughts of missing out by not being at the shower.

So when you find yourself in a “crisis crunch”, use your metaphorical plumb bob to keep yourself centered and prioritize for prosperity.

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