As I write this, I cannot believe I’m writing this. One, because I rarely feel excellent or successful at anything. Two, because I feel wildly unqualified to offer any advice right now. And three, because I did not want to stop at two – lists are always better in threes.
These days, I find myself floating in almost a constant state of being overwhelmed. The anxiety that I felt in my old job – the anxiety that I don’t tend to share much about and thought would simply disappear with a change of circumstance – has repurposed itself. It has repackaged itself as a feeling of being so daunted with the requirements to make it as an entrepreneur that I would typically touch every to-do task one time and finish none. The weight of feeling perpetually unproductive leads to shame. The shame brings a resolve to try harder the next day. The next day I repeat this wonderful process.
I have reached my threshold for this nonsense – and I’ve concocted a plan to exit the cycle.
Anxiety presents itself in different ways – avoidance being one. To-do lists give me the kind of sweaty palms usually reserved for first dates and email in-boxes make me hyperventilate just a little bit. My typical go-to coping mechanism is simply to ignore them and just feel like a failure for not being able to do things other people do everyday. And, as you may have guessed, that’s all wildly unhelpful.
I had to take a step back and re-evaluate. Re-evaluate my definitions & my motivations.
Coming to terms with the fact that the game got me was first. The researching all the “how-to” articles and the things I “need” to be successful in my fields along with the image others present of what it looks like to be good at all the things – it subtly swallowed me up. It still has me, to be honest. But I’ve hit a point of an important realization.
I am not where I want to be, but I am somewhere. You are somewhere. That place deserves honor, effort and attention.
Last night I had the chance to hear a message preached titled, “Don’t do it for the Culture, Do it for the Calling,” and listen, the title alone helped snap me back into focus.
The calling, which is an idea we will explore more together in the weeks to come – stay tuned, is what put me in this place to begin with. The more overwhelmed I got, the more my prayer time suffered. The more my prayer time suffered, the more overwhelmed I became. Funny how that works.
To combat the unfortunate cycle, I’ve understood a few things:
- As we covered last week, the only definition of success in the kingdom of God is obedience, so that is where the refocusing begins. It is not found outwardly in the things I need to do to stay on top of schedules, algorithms, content or the trendy thing to be mad about in the moment, but in always asking, “what are the things God has put before me to do?” Those things – whatever they look like to the outside world, are priority. Weather it’s glamorus or not. Even when it feels like no one else cares, or they don’t look as cool as you wanted them to – be steadfast. Everything else, all the outward blessings, flow from the discipline of obedience.
- Being excellent is not about how much you show out. The lie that has seeped into our culture is that we have to make sure we are the unique one. We have to work to be different in order to succeed. I think the opposite is true. We have to work to be excellent in our area – which is not at all about showing out or making the most noise or being the shiniest. It’s about the work speaking for itself so it can shine for you. The more we stand behind what God has told us to do – the more we put ourselves in the middle of the work – keeping the main thing the main thing – we become hidden and the Christ in us shows up. That breeds more favor, more draw, more fulfilment than anything.
- Simplify success. I’ve gone analog. Back to my paper planner because it’s less distraction & the overstimulation of a cellular device is just too much sometimes. In this planner I define success every day. I ask myself, “When I lay down to go to sleep tonight, what are the things I would want to know were taken care of?” The list usually hovers around 3 – 5 items. I’m ok with that for now. Success, right now, is quality, not quantity.
- Jesus time is priority over it all. The only way to know what we are being called to do, to stay on course, to know what the focus should be is to stay in communication with God. The more it stays in our own head, the more muddy and unclear things become. The lines of communication can only be clear when we put the effort in to know what His voice sounds like. Studying the word, prayer time, and talking with others who can encourage you along the way is paramount.
What has stopped me from winning is falling out of focus. It becomes so much easier for anxiety to sneak in when you’re grasping for something to hold onto and finding too much and not enough all at the same time. If you are dealing with anxiety from success stress, breathe, take a step back, talk to God and refocus. Let’s find the goal & then simplify success to include only what God has for us right now and let the rest take care of itself.