To clear your head and take action
The questions in my Personal Solution Plan (or PSP for short) function like a framework for thinking about my problems. This way I clear my head from all the worries and never-ending to-do’s floating around in my head.
It also ensures I find the best solution there is at this time in my life. When I use it I know I’ve looked at this thing from all angles and have considered all options.
Maybe next week there’ll be another solution available, but my Plan guarantees that I take action instead of run around like that headless chicken we talked about…
So what do you do…
First don’t forget to create some space and time for this. It’s not so easy to think of a perfect-for-you solution when the kids’ lego’s are “accidentally” falling in the floor ventilation duct every time you sit down with a cup of coffee… (real story, don’t ask Grrr)
But after that it’s as easy as “Follow the yellow brick road”…
1. Free-write about what’s bugging you
2. What do I want, what’s my goal?
3. What’s actually happening, what’s my reality?
Now, this part is a bit tricky because we’re gonna dig a bit beneath the surface here to find out our best point of attack to get you results in the easiest and quickest way. I want you to ask yourself a simple question: “Is it true?”. I learned this trick from Byron Katie and it’s the easiest way to get beneath the veneer and start solving stuff.
Let’s see what we get from this:
X If the kids would pick out their school-clothes before dinner, I’d be on time for work. – Well, yes, picking out school-clothes adds a lot of stress but we always manage to leave the house on the same time so No, picking out school-clothes isn’t the determining factor here but maybe we need to leave the house a bit earlier.
X The kids leave their clothes on the floor and they don’t put them in the hamper like I ask them to. – Hmm, not true because the kids know I collect all the clothes from their rooms while they’re brushing their teeth; It’s just easier to pick up than to make them stop brushing and pick up first.
X I don’t want them to stay up late just to clean up and pick their clothes. – True, I so need time to unwind before bed because my job stresses me out now we’ve got a new manager and there’s talk going on about relocating.
Well well, we’ve just uncovered the two main problem-points: leaving the house too late and feeling stressed about an unstable work-environment.
4. Brainstorm time: which options do I have?
You can sort your options in 3 main categories: Support, Behavior and Skills. So when you’re looking for solutions, you can ask yourself is there anybody who can help me with this or could I even delegate this completely? Is there a part of my behavior that I could change or work on to not feel this way anymore? Or are there skills I could work on that when improved would make this situation much more easy?
X Support – Hubbie is always talking about how he hates the morning traffic jam. If he would help the kids get ready in the mornings and take them to school, he would shave of half an hour of sitting in traffic.
X Actions – I can stop collecting clothes from all around the house and put a reminder on the bathroom mirror for the kids to put their clothes in the hamper before they brush their teeth.
X Skills – I can go to that yoga class my friend was talking about because being able to stay calm in times of stress and uncertainty would help me a lot…
5. Which actions am I going with?
Now, not every solution is a good fit for this point in time. Maybe Hubbie just promised a coworker to carpool so they can get some work done in the car. Or maybe you realize that trying to add a yoga class right before the Christmas holidays is asking for more stress because there’s just not enough time in the day for everything.
Sometimes the easiest thing to do is to just fix it yourself…
Maybe you secretly change all the clocks in the house to 10 minutes earlier. This way there’s still stress in the morning but you’ll never be late again. Which gives you just that much more patience to start changing the kids’ routine and get them to put their clothes in the hamper.
What I mean to say is that it doesn’t matter which option you choose. Just choose one, work it and see how it goes. There’s no right or wrong, you’re just trying some options to see which’ll fit best. (Imagine you’re in a shoe store :-))
This is the action part and it takes as long as you want to or need to.
Maybe even put your action on your calendar so you won’t forget. Of course you check with your hubby or kids so you get everybody on board.
Then you put away your PSP and enjoy your time with your family!
5. Evaluation time: Did this work?
The last part of the PSP is evaluating.
After you write your action plan for next week, you put “evaluating morning rush hour” in your calendar for the end of the week. Or maybe you write in your journal every Sunday morning and you answer your evaluation questions before starting to free-write on another matter.
The beauty of the PSP is that it guides you through this process with questions so you look at the situation from all angles. You won’t forget stuff and you’ll be amazed by the answers you’ll get!
You don’t have to figure things out yourself, just let yourself be guided by the questions and the framework.
Doesn’t it feel great to know you’ve got things covered!
And that great feeling is to me the most important part of writing in my PSP. It’s my coping mechanism for dealing with all sorts of stress like feeling overwhelmed, dealing with high energy kids or just plain being disorganized and running late all the time.
Now, I know you’ll want to try this all out for yourself, so pour yourself a cup of tea and get cracking!