Oct 24

How Do I Juggle Chainsaws? How Can You?

Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch 

Gettin' down to business

Gettin’ down to business


This week I am studying for my Virginia State Health, Life & Annuity Certification. It’s a pretty big deal, has cost me a lot of money and I really want to pass.  The test is Friday morning.


I will be traveling 22 out of 30 days in November.  I have course books to mail, slides to update, and a few more travel arrangements to complete. I also have two client consultations set for this week, need to finish my monthly financial report, follow-up on several invoices and finalize my business video series prep.



As an HR specialist who has studied organizational leadership and change management for years, a former supervisor, current business owner, mom/grandmother and fitness enthusiast, I have studied the affects and management of stress for quite some time; both formally and informally.  I like to think I have a good handle on it.  
I am human though, so of course there are days and whole periods of time when I struggle.


Last week two different people asked me, “how do you personally handle stress?” I’d like to take 5 minutes as I enjoy my coffee and reflect, on this Mindset Monday, to share what I told them.

This is me

            This is me


First, I take responsibility for some (maybe even much) of my stress.  I have a tendency to over-extended myself.  I know that and I’m working on it constantly.  As a recovering perfectionist, I frequently deal with a lack of self-confidence and, as a result, I volunteer for more than I should.  I take on a lot of responsibility.  I want to fix things (everything for everybody).  The resulting stress can feel like I’m juggling too many chainsaws and I’m going to drop one or more, at any time.  I used to feel that would be disastrous (hence why they’re chainsaws and not just balls) – like that would be the end of the world.



I’ve come to realize that’s just a story. It’s not really true.  I may still juggle chainsaws but I can limit the number, and if I drop one, I know life will likely go on.  I’ve made a ton of mistakes.  I’ve dropped some things unintentionally and made a conscious decision to drop others.  The world has not ended…..




                                I frequently make “Not To Do” lists.


The way I’ve learned to juggle chainsaws is to:


===>     ASSESS:  


Both feelings and goals.   Every morning I sit with a cup of coffee for 20-30 minutes. Before I look at social media or e-mail (those have a way of stealing hours from me before I even realize what’s happening) I reflect on my intentions for the day.  Things don’t always go as planned but I determine my 1-2 (no more) goals I would like to accomplish.  I write them down.  I then spend time thinking about all of the wonderful things I am grateful for today. I jot them down.


Some would call it meditation – I call it contemplation.


There’s no judgment here.  Telling myself I shouldn’t feel this way, that I’m being ridiculous, or even “it’s just a story” does nothing to make me move from that place.  Rather, I think, “Okay.  I’m feeling stressed right now.  Why?  What’s going on?  Are these thoughts valid or am I making a big deal out of something that really isn’t that big of a deal?  Is it really going to be the end of the world?”

This assessment can take some of the pressure off, and ground me in reality.


===> ACCEPT Personal Responsibility:


I accept the fact that I tend to disconnect from people and procrastinate when I’m stressed because it’s hard to focus.  I know putting things off only increases the pressure, but it can sometimes seem difficult to get started until I see that looming deadline.


I find it helpful to write down all of the things I have on my plate…in no particular order, just as the tasks and commitments come to mind.  From there I prioritize and focus on only one thing at a time.

  • This IS really important and it needs to be done before that.
  • This is something I’d like to do but it won’t make a difference in decreasing my stress.  I can do that later but it is not important today.


===> Mandate ACTION: 

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-8-55-18-amI set the alarm on my phone or the stove for 30 minutes or an hour.  I completely shut down e-mail, all social media, and I put my phone on do not disturb.  I work for the specified amount of time.  Then I might set the alarm again and focus on something else for 30-60 minutes and so on.

I DO build breaks, time for stretching/walking and my workouts into the day even (especially) if I’m super busy and/or stressed because I know that investment of time pays large dividends in energy and focus.


===>  ACKNOWLEDGE Success


Each evening, I think about everything that has happened over the day.  No matter how “good” or “bad” the day has been, I write down at least 1-2 things that made me happy (e.g. were “good) about the day.  I acknowledge areas I want to work on improving.  Not that they were “bad” but, “here’s something I can do better.”


Sometimes we get so focused on reaching a big goal that we forget to notice the smaller goals we’ve met along the way. If we remember to celebrate every small step we’ve taken, toward the bigger goal, we bolster our feeling of success, our confidence that we CAN “do this”, and our resolve to keep going.


If you find any of these tips helpful, please let me know.  In the meantime, I’m getting off the computer and down to work.  – Cheers.

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