I had an epiphany. You know that old children’s fable, don’t think of a pink elephant? The first thing that pops into your mind is a pink elephant, right? Don’t think about it! Don’t think about that elephant. Not possible, right?
My name is Noony and I am a workaholic. It’s something I’ve struggled with since a very young age. I won’t bore you with all the particulars, but I will say it’s an incredibly socially-acceptable behavior because we appear to be so high functioning. On a bender, people say, “Wow, what a hard worker! Did you know she was here when I left the office last night, and she was here before me this morning? Does she sleep under her desk?” Folks laugh and business goes on. But work-life balance isn’t just a feel-good phrase, it’s a real issue. And it’s easy, remarkably easy, to get out of balance.
There’s hope for us, though. As I struggle out of a down-cycle, I am reminded of the elephant. It’s not possible to not think of a pink elephant, right?
The converse of that statement is also true: THINK of a pink elephant. The way to change what you’re focusing on is to focus on something else. If you cannot pull your mind out of something, simply focus on something different. In my case, for example, I can set a timer and focus on my writing for 30 minutes. I don’t have to not think of a pink elephant. In fact, my pink elephant can sit on my desk with me while I do it.
Next time your pink elephant is trying to sit on your lap, why not make friends with her? Elephants are long-lived, loyal, and smart. They take care of their families and visit their dead. They are ferocious with enemies but tender with their children. Just point her at what you want to focus on and see if she’ll help you.