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Can you sense the difference between a real vs. a perceived sense of urgency?

Renee Trudeau's picture

When I was thirty and working as a media relations director, my therapist — a wise soul who coached me on stress management and how to understand the connection between my thoughts and my mood-– stopped me dead in my tracks one day with the words, “Beware of a sense of urgency.”

My initial response was to think she just didn’t understand how fast-paced my life and communications career were. But over the course of our relationship, she helped me to understand that 90% of the time I was creating a false sense of urgency based on unrealistic expectations or unfounded assumptions I had manufactured for myself or my team. I came to see the central role I played in creating stress for myself (read about the 3 causes of stress) and how it was impacting my well-being and those around me.

Now, having been self-employed for 17 years, my former therapist’s words drift back to me often and when I find myself moving faster than I’d like or feeling like “I have to get it done NOW!” I pause and ask, “Really?!” Sometimes when I really examine a project on my to-do list the answer is, “Yes, it would be wise to get this handled today.” But often the answer is “Wait, not yet,” or “You’re missing a piece of information, sleep on this to ensure the timing is ideal.”  And sometimes the answer is, “Ditch this altogether.”

When we move too fast and in response to external “shoulds,” we often make mistakes, say things we later wish we could retract and we create unnecessary work and anxiety for all involved. When we move from the “inside out,” we experience a sense of alignment, flow and purpose.

If you’re “should-ing” all over yourself and feeling extra sped-up this week take a few moments to slow down, challenge your beliefs and ask:

  • Who or what most needs my energy this week-where can I make the greatest impact?
  • Will (xyz) really matter three–or ten–years from now?
  • Is my deadline realistic or can I give myself more time to complete this task?
  • Am I practicing “people first, things second?”

The next time you feel a “sense of urgency” look at it as a gift –an opportunity to examine where this urge is truly coming from.  And, don’t believe everything you think.

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