Moving through molasses - April Doldrums

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There comes a point in April when I...just...can't....


In March I'm hit with some new spring energy and I do so many things and then suddenly I find myself wading through molasses and everything just seems harder than it normally is. My normal flow slows to a standstill.

And yet it always comes as a surprise to me.

Part of embracing my chaotic nature means not fighting against the fact that my life goes in cycles and I can't be on in the same way all the time.

What we can do about it:

Here are some things I do when things start to slow down for me:

  1. Remind myself "I can stand up." I pick the smallest step I can take toward my goals and do just that one small thing. Usually this makes following steps a lot easier.
  2. Instead of trying (and failing) to talk myself into something, I take some advice from Mel Robbins and count down from 5, then go ahead and get moving.
  3. For things that just aren't working, I practice productive procrastination and do something else instead. Letting my chaos demon take the steering wheel for a bit - instead of thinking about how I can't do the thing I should do or distracting myself with social media - means that I take some action on something important to me. Even though it's not the thing I thought I should be doing


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If you are a former gifted kid who grew up to struggle with basic adulting, then you need the Ex-Gifted podcast.

Host Ren Eliza talks about gifted kid burnout, and the damage that lasts long into adulthood. Damage like battered self esteem, decimated internal motivation, and a continued failure to live up to expectations even while we were placed on pedestals and alienated from our peers.

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If there are some times that you just can't, then this is the show for you. This is Ex-Gifted.

If you are joining me on video, you'll see that it is very dark in here. That is because I am coming to you from the middle of the damn night. I was actually already in bed. I slept for a little bit woke up and exactly what happened is that my toddler had Miraculous ladybug on the TV and I got sucked into it and could not fall back asleep.

He was asleep. But I could not go back to sleep. And so here I am live- not live, I guess, but I'm live right now. That's not how that works- regardless from the middle of the night.

What I want to talk about is something that's been going on with me for the past week or two and yeah, what's the right way to say this?

This shit still affects me too. I wrote a post last year about the April doldrums. I know based on all that shit that I did last year. This is something that just occurs for me. I think that it's something to do with I've gotten a taste of spring, but winter is just like still fucking lingering.

We had snow here a few days ago, it was like 70 something degrees today. I don't know. And I'm a summer person. I just get kind of worn out when winter is still holding on.

I mean, it also, it's been raining every day for like the past 10 days, including the days that it was also snowing. So maybe it's also just a little bit of that. And it's not even really depression. I have had periods of depression over the past few months in winter. And it's not that. It's just like feeling blah, it's fucking ennui.

And so the April doldrums. It just makes doing the things that I'm trying to do, acting with intention, all of that kind of stuff. That is my goal, much harder than it might otherwise be. And I know that this is a thing that happens for me. And yet still over the last couple of weeks, I've been like "Ugh, why, why is this so hard? What am I doing? What's going wrong?

Nothing is going wrong. This is just what happens.

And so I realized that just basically today. , and so the good news at least is now that I have reminded myself of all this, that I can, kind of give myself grace give myself space and also know kind of where I need to go from here and what I wanted to give you aside from, you know, permission to take a break and give yourself a little bit of compassion and understanding when you're feeling this way is also some of the things you can do to not power through, because we're not trying to power through or force our way through these, these episodes, but just basically survive and still not in the end, feel like we have to completely start over from scratch.

So do what we can in these times. And there are a few things that you can do.

One of the things that I always do when I just need to get started. One of my favorite things to do is to remind myself that I can stand up. It's the smallest thing that I can think of to move me, literally move me toward the next step in whatever the hell it is I'm trying to do.

It works for dishes. It works for writing if I need to get up and come into the office or go get my laptop. Works for pretty much anything for me, because my biggest problem was always that I would just sit or lay in one spot for most of the day. And reminding myself that it is physically easy for me to just stand up and that whatever happened after that was just a bonus is a really great way to help me get started.

Now, if it's not physically easy for you to stand up, then of course replace it with something that is more helpful for you, that will move you toward accomplishing those goals. Think of just the smallest thing that you can do to literally go toward whatever it is that you're trying to do.

You'll note that I say there, that I can stand up. I don't say, just stand up. I don't tell myself to do something because I have demand avoidance. And if I tell myself to do something, I will start getting in an argument with myself about whether or not I should do it, or I want to do it, or I have the energy to do it or whatever it is.

I am not trying to tell myself to do it because if I do that, then that starts with me trying to convince myself to do it. And that kind of goes into the second thing that. It's a big thing for people in general, but especially for neurodivergent people that we feel like we need to want to do something before we do it.

It's just that executive dysfunction block that we have to talk ourselves into it. We have to make a good case for it. We can't just get started. We have to amp ourselves up first.

But I, I tried that for many, many, many years. And what I have found looking back is that I'm much more likely to talk myself out of doing something than I am to talk myself into doing something the times when it's when I actually can just kind of get up and do something is when I don't talk or think about it a lot beforehand. And so I don't tell myself to do it. I don't try to convince myself to do it. I just remind myself that I can do it.

And the second bit of advice is from a person whose name I don't remember. I had it a second ago. I'll put it in the show notes. That has a five second rule.

The short version is that you count down from five and when you get to one you just get up and do whatever it is that you are going to do. Now I know that you've probably heard that before and you probably think that that sounds like some damn neurotypical nonsense.

I kind of did also, when I first heard it, I actually recommend that you go and listen to. One of the talks that she's given about this rule, because it's not neuro-typical nonsense. For one she has ADHD, so she's not neurotypical.

But the idea here is not- it's not like Nike it's not just do it. It's just get the fuck out of your head. Because if you try to talk yourself into it, what's going to happen. I've already covered that. At least for me, what happens is that I talk myself out of it. So the five second rule, Mel Robbins - that's her name. This is a tip from Mel Robbins.

Transitions are hard.

The five second rule breaks that pattern of trying to amp yourself up, talk yourself into it. It doesn't give you the chance to make excuses just because the excuses don't matter because you're not waiting until you talk yourself into it to get started.

You're just, you're changing up the cue. The cue is not when you have enough motivation anymore, the cue is just when you get to one.

And I'm going to be honest, the five second rule might not work great right away. It is something that you can kind of practice the actual best thing to do to practice it is to kind of start with times when you're pretty sure that you actually are gonna get up.

If you're, if you start with a few things where it's a little bit easier to actually get going, and then you can see that you can trust yourself on that. So don't necessarily do the five second rule to begin with with tasks that feel very overwhelming. Remember that doesn't necessarily mean things that are the hardest. But things that feel really big and that are like that- you can just tell that there's that big wall there. That's not necessarily where you want to start with the five second rule.

You want to get a little bit of practice with it first because the more you practice it and then actually get up and do it once you get to one, the more that it will strengthen that connection, it will make that cue stronger.

After you've got some practice with it, you'll be more used to actually getting up and doing the thing when you get to one. So practice on things that are kind of easy things that you already kind of got some motivation for and build up from there. Try to build up that muscle and get used to actually trusting yourself that you can in fact get up and do it when you get to one.

Step three, I had another thing. What was it? Okay. I have a whole podcast on this, so I'm not going to go really deep into it, but basically what happened today is that all day I did a little bit of work this morning. But my brain is just like switched off.

And I spent probably about an hour just like messing around on stuff and being like, okay, I've got to get to work. I've got to get to work. And it was just wasting time trying to convince myself, trying to talk myself into doing the work that I need to do. And finally, what I did was I stood up and I went into the garage and like worked on cleaning it out for like three hours or something.

And that's it. I came back and it was like time to start dinner. And so I, I did that. I did not go back and do that work that I was trying to talk myself into. I just allowed myself that in the moment I could see that the work- I mean, it took me some time- but I could see that the work itself just wasn't coming.

And sometimes this is what it means to have a chaos brain sometimes. Brain is just not going to hook up with what your plans were. And so sometimes you just have to be flexible on the plans. So if you want to know more about why that's generally okay. Check out my podcast on productive procrastination.

But of course, there'll be some times some scenarios where you can't really afford to do that. Either your at work and you can't just step into your garage and start decluttering.

But I think that we, we do so much of trying to force ourselves to work on something when we're not really mentally prepared for doing that. And you know, for like washing the dishes or something, that's not a big deal, but if you're doing something like creative in any way. You might be sitting there and you're spending the time on it, but you're not actually spending your attention on it.

And time without attention is just fucking wasted. And I'm going to talk more about that sometime in a podcast soon. And a little bit also about how you can push your attention in the direction that you want it to go. There are some things that I, that I can do for that, but sometimes productive procrastination is the way.

Sometimes doing that for one, just getting up and doing something will help you to move on and do something else later. And I mean, it's like 12 hours later now, but here I am doing the work that I was trying to avoid earlier. Not that this was what I was going to be talking about,

But even if it doesn't necessarily propel you into doing the thing that you're actually trying to do. Just getting up and doing something will make you feel better about yourself. And I felt fucking great after cleaning out the garage. There's still a lot to do in there, but I think there's actually space for me to fit my car in there now. I don't know if I could open the doors and get out, but I could get the car in there.

It makes you feel good. It might actually -action begets action- so it might actually help you move forward onto doing the thing that you're trying to do. And even if not, you can just like, be happy with yourself that you actually got something, , productive done, because the alternative for me was not to actually do the work today.

It wasn't like I was deciding between doing the work or cleaning out my garage, the alternative was sitting there thinking about doing the work or cleaning out the garage. And if you give me those two options, I'm going to pick cleaning out the garage every single damn time. And so think about those things.

There are other things that you can do other ways to get over that initiation, roadblock, which is one of the things that I am the worst at. But it is also the middle of the night. So, these are the three that I've got right now.

If you do have any good suggestions, go ahead and drop them on Instagram or email them to me and I will make sure to credit you if you like with your great offering.

Until next time, don't forget that you can do something. Byeeeee.....


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