Okay… today is the day I’m sharing my obsession with all of you.
I sit down every week wanting to write about it, and every week my perfectionist brain refuses to write it. I get nervous that I won’t do the topic justice. I get overwhelmed that I’ll need a novel-length post to share the full magic of it.
There is so much to say and my fingers can only type so fast!
But this morning I sat down and decided to stop my procrastination cycle. I will trust that whatever comes out is good enough. That I don’t need to write an encyclopedia on the topic to do it justice.
So without any more procrastination, here is my obsession: thought work.
The concept that every circumstance in life is neutral and the only thing that isn’t neutral is the thought we choose to have about each circumstance.
Case in point: the act of writing this newsletter. It’s just words on paper. But my thoughts about these words on paper? Not so neutral. This topic is too big for me to write about. I won’t explain it properly. It will be a pointless and boring newsletter.
Which then leads me down a spiral of not-so-wonderful feelings. Feeling overwhelmed and drained before I even begin writing.
Feelings that then dictate the actions I take (or in this case, don’t take). Whenever I feel overwhelmed or anxious, I zone out and procrastinate on the thing that makes me feel this way. I want to avoid these feelings, so I abort mission.
The end result? I avoid writing about my absolute favourite topic. Every single week.
If you’re familiar with Brooke Castillo and The Life Coach School, you’ll recognize this as “The Model”. A coaching technique that helps you manage your results in life by intentionally choosing new thoughts that serve you.
That’s how I spent my early morning today. Coaching myself through the thoughts and feelings that would finally get me to take action the result I wanted.
It’s actually quite fun once you get the hang of it…
The result I wanted: publish a newsletter about thought work.
The action needed to achieve this result: write the damn thing.
The feeling needed to take action: feeling excited and playful to sit down and write, just like I do every other Friday.
And finally, the new thought needed to experience this feeling: “thought work is such a powerful topic that it should only be savoured in small bites”.
It’s not a Pinterest-worthy thought by any means, but we don’t need sparkly unicorn dust thoughts to create change in our lives.
The best thoughts are the ones that lead to achieving results.
And if you’re reading this right now, it means my new thought did the trick.
So that’s it. That’s the small bite of thought work I am writing about today. Just enough to savour it, but powerful enough to still blow minds. I’m imagining a little square of Royce chocolate melting in my mouth. A Japanese ganache-style chocolate that we all became obsessed with while living in Malaysia. A treat we savoured in small amounts, but that six years later I can still vividly remember.
Discovering that we are only one thought away from a better life is mind blowing.
And hunting down those thoughts? My ultimate obsession.
My other obsession? The podcast that opened my eyes to thought work back in 2019: Unf*ck Your Brain with Kara Loewentheil. It has helped me build the superpower of calling myself out on my bullshit. A daily game of: how many crappy thoughts can I find in my brain today? Not to shame myself for having those thoughts, but to look at them and say, “Oh sweetie, you are so cute for showing up, but run along now and go play somewhere else instead”.
As professionals, we are not burned out because we have too much work to do. We are burned out because we are trying to do a five minute task with a one hour anxiety-inducing thought attached to it.
Here’s a mind blowing idea: what if productivity is less about powering through “hard work” and more about eliminating the crappy thoughts that make easy work feel hard?
Always remember, you are only one thought away from a better life.