Small and Spotty – Good Enough!

November 12th, 2012 by Laura Longley

A while ago I had been struggling with getting started on writing some materials for a course I wanted to give on finding your ideal career. Now, I have been working with people to do this for several years, and I certainly know how to help someone figure out what their ideal career is. But somehow actually writing down all the information and exercises that I had been using felt very overwhelming to me. So I was procrastinating.

The longer I procrastinated, the more anxious I became, and the more overwhelming this task felt. I would guess you know that feeling I’m talking about. We all do it sometimes when we’ve put something on the “too hard” pile.

Answers in the Night

Well, one night I was tossing and turning and feeling very anxious about the fact that I was not doing this work that I felt needed to be done. I started repeating soothing mantras to myself, hoping to go to sleep. Things like, “I allow my mind to relax and be at peace” and “All is well.”

Eventually I did fall asleep, and had a dream of apples and oranges in a bowl. The apples and oranges were extremely small, about half the size of an average piece of fruit, and had some spots on them, as organic fruit does. As soon as I had this dream, I woke up.

I knew this was a message for me, but what did it mean? I realized that I was being told to start with smaller pieces, and they didn’t have to be perfect. I knew that my feeling of overwhelm came from thinking about how big this project was. In addition, my perfectionism had kicked in to lead me to feel like I didn’t know how to do it “right.”

Once I interpreted this dream, I remembered that earlier in the night as I was having a brief bit of sleep before awaking to worry again, I had dreamed of the letters rev in different configurations. I saw now that this was the abbreviation for revisions. I didn’t have to get it perfect in the first draft!

Good Enough and Sleep Your Way to Answers

I have two main messages for you here:

1. Small and spotty is good enough. When you feel overwhelmed, start with a small piece of your project and do a good enough – not perfect – job for your first draft. (By the way, nothing is ever “perfect.” You will always find revisions and changes that you believe will make it better. Your goal should always be “good enough.”)

2. Our subconscious is a wonderful resource! I cannot tell you how many times I have something similar happen, where I will be struggling with a problem and when I go to sleep I have a dream that brings me the answer. Once when I was in college studying computer science, I had a bug in my program that I just could not figure out. I was working on it until the wee hours of the morning, and finally decided to go to bed. While I was asleep, I dreamt of the answer to my problem – and it was correct!

So when you’re feeling overwhelmed, break it down and do it good enough. Or, before going to sleep ask your subconscious to solve your problem for you.

I’m curious: have you ever had the experience of solving a problem while asleep? If so, I would love to hear your story. Please comment!


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