When pacing restlessly is a good thing

Last week, quite literally, my personal world twisted about again. Travis came home and informed me that Tuttle Aluminium and Bronze, the place that provided our stable income, was acquired by another company a state away. In 4 months he would be without that job, and we would be without that stable income that pays the rent and bills. Or, we could move to Kentucky and I could start all over again with Insanitek and he could stay at a job he hates.

To be honest, at the time I handled it well. I was the strong one that made sure he didn’t start panicking — which he was close to doing. We’ve come so far in so little time, and we didn’t want to lose that. But, then I started thinking of ways that I could get Insanitek to that next level. It’s close, but I wasn’t ready for success in it working. After all, that would mean more of a workload that I didn’t know if we could handle. Success would mean finding more science writers, more graphic artists, more researchers, more inventors.

Success would mean there is no turning back. 

Sure, dreaming of your own business is easy, but doing it is hard. There are other people relying on you for paychecks — a fact that I’m all too worried about under the current example. What if it doesn’t work?

This is what kept me up last night pacing. It’s why I’m up now, at 0600, writing this post. It’s why I’m so excited for that next step as we chose to stay in Indianapolis and make it work.

Pacing with nerves, concentration, and excess energy is normal, but if you want to make it useful, then you need to focus on a task, jot down notes, and actually formulate a plan. Otherwise that pacing is just frantic energy building up to an unstoppable level. I’ve seen a lot of people pace until they fall exhaustedly into bed, then wake up with nothing to show for it but sore feet and more worry.

Here is a way that makes all that pacing useful. 

Panic log

Click the graphic to open the Panic Log Plan B in a downloadable PDF format.

Write down what’s bothering you. Be emotional, but to the point. Don’t allow yourself to spiral out of control with every single thing that may seem to be going wrong right then — because it’s always that way. Instead, narrow it down to one or two things to really sharpen your mind about the real problem without all the extra “things” that seem to be popping up. Then, put it on a scale from 1 – 10, with 10 being the world is literally coming to an end. Yes. Literally. This makes even tragedy, such as a close friend or family member dying, seem not as bad (I rank it about an 8, but that’s just me.)

Example: We are losing our stable source of income. I could go on about how we haven’t figured out a marketing and lead generation system yet, or that we don’t have enough clients. I could also add in the lack of time that both of us are under when it comes to filling out applications for “real” jobs. The problem is money, pure and simple, and how we need to get it to pay the bills. I don’t want to end up homeless again, nor do I want to lose Insanitek’s progress. To me, though, this is a problem on the scale that is about 5. We still have options. It’s not like there are no options.

Now that you’ve focused in on the problem, it’s time to brainstorm some options. Write down everything that comes to your mind, useful or no. Then, start weeding them out by circling the most viable options at the time. Usually hand grenades are not a viable option, even if you feel like that’s what you want. They just cause more trouble than they are worth — they can kick up a lot of dust that gets into your lungs.

Once you’ve brainstormed some viable options, you’ll need to create a battle plan.  A battle plan is a map that requires that you know what it is you want to accomplish, the tools to get there, and the steps along the way. I mind map, make lists, and just set out the steps to get the goal. I use a combination of the worksheet above (click on the graphic to download it, no email required) and Buttoned Up’s Master Task List (free download, email required at their site). I do all my panic thinking on the worksheet above — that’s why I call it the Panic Log, then head over to the Master Task List from Buttoned Up when I’ve got a goal in mind, along with a vague idea how I’m going to get started. However, Stella Reynoso has a pretty good Getting Shit Done task list for download (for free, no email required) that spells it out for you. Complete with check boxes and rewards that looks a lot less complex than Buttoned Up’s version.

Choose, but don’t give in. In fact, start kicking ass. Panic deserves to get kicked to the kerb, and Plan B gets brought to the foreground.