Getting Out of the Urgency Trap

Getting Out of the Urgency Trap

Chapter 21 – Getting Out of the Urgency Trap

Your email pings. Your message app pings. Your other message app pings. You’ve got forty-seven notifications and thirteen new requests and an overflowing inbox. It all seems urgent. After all, it pinged. That must mean it’s important.

Your brain is hard-wired to respond to immediate stimulus. This is another survival mechanism. Anything that sounds like “Alert! Something is happening!” gives us a little hit of adrenaline, whether it’s a rustle in the bush that indicates a hungry tiger is nearby or a text from the spouse reminding you to get milk on your way home.

Correspondingly, our brain releases a hit of the “feel-good” chemical dopamine each time we feel a sense of achievement, even if that achievement is simply texting back, “Yes. Milk. Love you.” As Simon Sinek explains in his brilliant book Leaders Eat Last, we can get addicted to the cycle of doing and doing and doing, and we fail to notice that nothing is actually getting done.

We get addicted to the cycle of doing and doing and doing, and we fail to notice that nothing is actually getting done.

Bringing just a bit of mindfulness to your daily movements can help a lot. One way to check in with yourself is to play the Because/Because game.

The Because/Because game asks you to pause for one moment before you begin an activity and ask why you are doing what you’re doing and why you’re the person doing it.

So, in the moment before you start catching up with the bookkeeping for your side hustle, you might have this conversation with yourself: “Why am I doing this bookkeeping? Because it’s important to me that I know whether this side business is really profitable. Why am I the one doing this? Because even though I dislike doing these kinds of detail-oriented tasks, I’m the only employee.” Now, this awareness might not lead you to hire an assistant immediately, but once you’ve had this conversation with yourself five times in a week, you might start to see the value of getting some help.

On the other hand, if you find yourself dreading a visit to Sad Susan, your friend who just ended yet another disastrous love affair, you might hear yourself thinking, “Why am I going to see Susan? Because she needs a shoulder to cry on. Why am I the one doing this? Because even though Susan’s love life is a non-stop soap opera, I care deeply about her happiness.” Remembering your true motivation can put a smile back on your face as you stop off along the way for the margarita mix and ice cream.

Little Changes Action Step: Put a few of your least favorite activities through the Because/Because game. Are there any that you could you eliminate from your life today?

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Quit Buying Groceries at the Quickie Mart

To really get the benefit of this chapter you need to read it in completion (get your copy here.)

But I didn’t want to leave it out because even if you just go with this snippet it will help:

Chapter 12 – Quit Buying Groceries at the Quickie Mart

When people talk to me about not having enough time in their day, I usually find some combination of these misjudgments:

· not being realistic about how much time some tasks actually take

· not prioritizing activities, or allowing priorities to shift

· failing to think things through, not planning ahead

When you are not realistic with yourself about how much time something actually takes, you feel rushed. And when you fail to prioritize your activities, you end up spending way too much time on the wrong things and don’t have nearly enough time for the right things.

When you fail to plan ahead, you end up scrambling around at the last minute, and often the results are unsatisfactory.

For example, maybe you often don’t remember that you’ve got to make dinner until you’re on your way home, forcing you to grab whatever groceries you can find at the local Quickie Mart. Instead, take the time to put those responsibilities into your schedule right along with your other commitments. Too often your personal tasks end up being crammed into the corners of your day, and you then you are forced to rush, which just adds to your feelings of being overwhelmed.

Remember to account for transit time: getting stuck in traffic time, finding a parking place time and waiting for the elevator time. Failing to account for the time it takes to get from one place to another is a leading cause of pernicious lateness, and is one of the hallmarks of the permanently overwhelmed.

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Ways to Take Control of Your Time

Yep it’s that time again!

A team member chose this chapter to share because she actually implemented the first suggestion… and is LOVING IT!

Without further a dieu…

Chapter 6 – 6 Ways to Take Control of Your Time

Time is so slippery, isn’t it? The time spent in line at the bank goes so slowly you can practically feel yourself wrinkling up as you stand there. But the hour you spend on the phone with your best friend whizzes by. And remember the moment when they first put the baby in your arms. Time ceased to exist entirely.

I hear from . . . well, from almost everyone, really, that they have trouble managing their time, so here are a few critical little changes you can make today that will help you stop struggling with the idea that there’s never enough time and start enjoying the time you have.

Get Your Cell Phone out of the Bedroom

The first few moments on waking are an important time of day, especially for the creative, sensitive, and overworked person.

Your reticular activating system is the part of your brain that helps regulate your levels of consciousness and tells you when to wake up. (If you’ve ever wondered how one tiny sound, like the creak of a floorboard, can wake you out of a deep sleep, you can thank your reticular activating system.) Science tells us that your waking-up time is one of your most creative moments in the day, because your brain has spent the night organizing your memories and thoughts, and your body is relaxed, so you are more likely to make unusual connections between ideas, discover new solutions to problems, and have especially entertaining thoughts first thing.

Nothing ruins the cozy mood of a morning like a cell phone.

There is nothing on the internet that cannot wait for twenty minutes while you do some mindful breathing and think grateful thoughts.

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Oh Those Helena Handbasket Days….

Oh Those Helena Handbasket Days….

Sometimes when you make a big change in your life, all hell breaks loose around you.

I mean, here you are, all pumped up from your brand-new and exciting decision to…

….leave your overworked/underpaid job
….start taking better care of yourself
….clear your clutter
….start charging what you’re worth
….actually work on your creative project for 15 minutes every day

And you’re feeling so good and brave!

You feel joyful and excited and have butterflies in your stomach!

And then….
And then….
And then…

someone you love gets sick (hospital sick)
you get fired (and you were going to quit anyway, but wow…fired???!!)
your lover gets mad (ugly mad)
your house falls apart (the roof literally caves in)


And it really seems like there is no way you can possibly follow through on your new commitment to your self, your creativity and your prosperity.

It really seems like you must abandon your new decision and go back – at least for a little while – to the way things were.
But please please don’t.

You Must Keep Your Resolve — Especially When It Seems Impossible.
These Troubles Are A Kind Of A Test.

Now I’m not saying that you should ignore the sick person or leave your lover or fail to fix the house.

I’m saying you’ve got to manage these “Helena Handbasket Moments” in A NEW WAY.

Welcome to Transformation-Induced Chaos.

When you think about it, it’s no surprise there’s so much turmoil — you are changing and growing at lightening speed and you’re going to get some splashback, right?

So the secret is not to take all this chaos as a sign to revert to your old behavior.


Sam’s Slightly Counter-Intuitive Two-Fold Remedy for Transformation-Induced Chaos

The two-fold trick to managing this might seem a bit counter-intuitive:

1) Focus first on yourself and your well-being

2) Focus on the money

So for #1, make sure that you are calm, rested, fed and centered. Nothing good happens when you are running around undernourished in any sense of the word.
Take time for your art, for your spiritual work and for the things that bring you joy. In this way, you’ll be able to negotiate the pesky “circumstances” of your life. (And yes, even the IRS, the threat of divorce and the shadow of bankruptcy is just a circumstance — it’s no reason to lose your balance : )

And for #2, keep your eye on your highest-income producing activities.
Stand firm in your rate increase.
Refuse to work cheap.
Draw a firm boundary around your creative-work time each day.
Celebrate your daily successes AND keep it up!

You will be much better able to help yourself and the people in your life if you are bringing in a healthy income.

(Please note: bringing in a healthy income will not suddenly turn you into a money-grubber, a shallow, materialistic person, nor will it take away from your street cred as a “real” artist. It will simply give you the freedom to make new choices.)

So while it may seem “selfish” to be out getting new clients when your family is in crisis, it’s actually an act of compassion. You are putting your own oxygen mask on first.

And it may seem “irresponsible” to keep your meditation time each morning when your lover is so upset, but it’s actually an act of true love.  You are nourishing the love within yourself so you can better share it with another.

And while others may rush to judge you and your new priorities, their criticism is just a light breeze blowing by as you walk, run, rush pellmell or stagger into your new life.

Keep your eye on your prize.

What’s the prize?

A satisfying creative life filled with love.

How to change your life without running-around-crazy-like-your-hair’s-on-fire – aka – how to stay serene and joyful while you change the world is a bit of a challenge.

But if you’re ready for the chaos and you stand firm and fight, you can find a gateway to a whole new kind of heaven.

Do Less Stuff

Do Less Stuff

I get this sort of question a lot:

“Help me get my 15 minutes! Life is so busy. The kids, dog and husband need so much! I’m going crazy.” – K.H.

“Do you know how to squeeeeeeeze a few more hours out of a day? LOL – C.C.


Here is my not-kidding answer:


That’s right. You heard me.

Do less.

And here’s an exercise to show you HOW to do that:

1) Write down all of the activities that you typically do in a day, like, say…

drive car pool
pay bills
make phone calls
work out
get the mail
work with clients
play with the kids
plan upcoming travel
coordinate volunteers/charity work
grocery store
cook supper
watch TV



2) Now, put an asterisk next to the tasks that ONLY you can do. Using our previous list that would be something like:

work out
work with clients
play with the kids



3) Find some way to get those other items off your plate.

You may need to hire someone, you may be able to simply ask some of the other grown-ups in your life for help. Teach the kids to do the laundry and get a co-chair to work with the volunteers.

Yes, you will have to get over some of your perfectionism – nobody else is going to do as good of a job cooking dinner or sorting the laundry as you do. But guess what? You have bigger fish to fry.

Your creative life is never going to take precedence over your quotidian life unless you make it happen.

Let me say this one more time:

The work that only you can do, you must do.

The work that anyone can do, someone else must do.

And if you’d like some help strategizing & executing, please consider working with me one-on-one and fill out my VIP Application here:

Let me know how it goes for you, OK?