There is much in the world that needs doing, and introverts often try to keep up with naturally broad-ranging extroverts. We may fear others’ expectations or judgments: what will people think if I say no? Or have our own inner expectations or judgments: I should be doing more.
But introverts are naturally at their best when they dive deeply into just a few things. They may have diverse skills, but their natural tendency is to specialise, rather than keep many balls in the air.
Extroverts, though they cast their net wide, need downtime too. But when they try prolonged deep dives they soon grow bored, and lose energy. When introverts try to juggle many balls, they soon become discouraged, or overwhelmed. Neither is better or worse.
If you’re committed to helping bring about a healthy and sane future for the world, you’ll be acutely aware of all the movements clamouring for your support and involvement. You can’t do it all – in fact, you’re less effective when you try to.
So give yourself permission to simplify.
Just now, I have four strands I’m dedicated to: working with the team at Embercombe, helping out on the Accidental Gods podcast, writing a new book (and the occasional blog), and working with a maximum of seven clients. That’s enough for me: for someone further along the spectrum towards introversion, it might be too many.
I’ve learned to identify my strands and then raise the drawbridge, saying ‘no more’ to myself and the world. I get excited by certain projects, but I don’t have to be in them.
I’ve found that when I take on too much, it doesn’t end well. It’s better to be effective in what I’m most strongly called to, than scattered across too many pieces. Just being lured by exciting new initiatives takes up inner disk space. And exposed to so many voices, I can lose touch with my own.
I’ve taken some steps to stay balanced and effective:
- Start each day with a wander and a meditation
- No TV or newspapers
- Social media: only Twitter and LinkedIn, to post or share something specific
- Scan around six favourite sites briefly, two/three times day
- Unsubscribe from most list emails
- Unplug from all devices each Sunday, and do delightful things
I practise discipline gently; I don’t give myself a hard time when I occasionally do something different.
I didn’t suddenly switch to this way of being. It evolved over years… and will continue evolving. Pieces of work come to an end, freeing up space. Then I turn my radar back on, ready for the next strand to appear – however long it takes.
Your optimum conditions will look different from mine. But if you’re an introvert, they’ll almost certainly involve simplification. Try pledging yourself to whatever it is you’re here in this life to do, and dive in.