Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How to be Inspired Instead of Overwhelmed

I wrote this essay for my bookclub meeting. We just read Walden by Thoreau.

Many of us are pursuing less-traveled roads. Once you start down one of these paths you quickly become aware of dozens of other unconventional approaches to life. Soon you are discovering 10-20 new ideas each week. The advocates for all these great ideas are passionate, knowledgeable and inspiring. You can start to feel like you’ve got to adopt every great new idea you learn about. But you can’t and you know it so you start to feel overwhelmed. You question your ability to live any of these great ideas and maybe you even chicken out and go back to the conventional life where you didn’t feel so much pressure and uncertainty.

Don’t let this be you! Learn how to evaluate all these ideas, say no to the ones you don’t need, maybe later to the ones you don’t need now and yes to things you really should be doing.

1. Be skeptical – As you evaluate any new idea remind yourself that just because your best friend thinks it’s wonderful or because you got excited when you first heard about it doesn’t mean it is something you should incorporate into your life. It is good to say no to most things. Statesmen who change to world don’t do everything – they do a few things really well.

2. Measure everything against your core book or core beliefs. If it doesn’t support and harmonize with your core book, it’s not for you.

3. If you are still interested in the idea, decide which category to put it in. I like to bucket ideas into three categories.

a. Maybe someday, but definitely not now – it’s helpful to make a physical list for these and keep it handy. Someday when you are feeling bored and uninspired you can look at this list and see if anything jumps out at you.

b. Explore in the next year – add this to your annual planning list and next time you sit down to plan you can begin to work this new idea into your plan following the guidelines in step 4.

c. Something so earth shattering and valuable I need to drop everything and get on this band wagon now – Proceed to step 4.

4. Start learning as much as you can about this new idea. Search out every book, lecture, seminar, or other resource that can teach you about this idea. Find and talk to real live people who are living it. You’ve get to learn about it in depth before you decide to let it change your life. If it’s a small idea you won’t need to go far with your research but if it is life changing you really need to go deep. Read and re-read the best sources of information you can find on the idea. Try to learn the main principles so well you could teach it to someone else. Marinate in the idea for a few months and even attempt to live it a little. If at any time in this process you learn that the idea does not support your core book or you decide it just isn’t right for you, abandon it. If you’ve made a mistake and this really should be part of your life, the idea will resurface when you are ready for it.

5. Once you’ve studied the idea deeply and decided it’s definitely for you, take it to your Higher Power. Pray, meditate or do whatever you do to get answers. Seek for confirmation that this life changing idea is something you should incorporate into your life. Don’t move forward until you get this confirmation. Once you get a confirmation, don’t look back. If you never get a confirmation pray for understanding and guidance – maybe this idea was just meant to open your eyes and prepare you for an even better idea.

6. If this big idea will affect your whole family, now is the time to take it to your spouse. Pray about how to do this most effectively. You know them best. You can predict how he/she will react to just about anything you do – run through a few scenarios in your mind before you decide how to best share this new idea. Read Esther’s story in the Bible for some inspiration. Remember to trust his/her judgment and respect his/her position in your family. Go to him/her with a true desire to work with them to evaluate the idea and decide if, how, and when to implement this with your family. This process may take a long time. If he/she asks challenging questions go find really good answers for them. Show him/her that you really value his/her opinion. Keep coming back to him/her until he/she has convinced you it’s not a good idea or you have convinced him/her it is a good idea. Be open to both options.

7. Make a plan with your spouse for how to implement the idea and go for it.

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

Very good advice....now if I just knew what my "core" was...:) haha!
luv you