Lower The Pressure

September 11th, 2017 / No Comments »

hurry 2119711 1280 300x199 Lower The Pressure

(Reposted from Rick Hanson, Ph.d.)

Is it truly urgent?

The Practice:
Lower the pressure.

Why?

Things come at us with so much urgency and demand these days. Phones ring, texts buzz, emails pile up, new balls have to be juggled, work days lengthen and move into evenings and weekends, traffic gets denser, financial demands feel like a knife at the neck, ads and news clamor for attention, push push push PUSH.

On top of these external pressures, we deal with internal ones as well. These include all the inner “shoulds,” “musts,” and “have-tos,” like: “I gotta get this done today or my boss’ll get mad.” Or: “I must not look bad.” Or: “I can’t leave the house with dishes in the sink.” A pushy sub-personality prods us to be better, do better, and have more. Harsh, often unfair self-criticism cracks the whip to keep us going and avoid its lash. Also, we form rigid ideas – often unconscious – of what we just have to have to be successful, look good, own the right car, etc. We develop similar kinds of insistence about how it needs to be for others or the world (e.g., how one’s children must do in school, how the country has to be run).

Whether the pressure comes from outside or inside us, it activates ancient motivational circuits that use the neurotransmitter, dopamine. In a nutshell, dopamine tracks expected results (e.g., emails finished, sales goals attained). If the result actually occurs, dopamine rises, which helps us feel relieved while other neurotransmitter systems such as natural opioids give us a sense of pleasure. But here’s the catch: on the way to that desired result, dopamine levels sink some, which brings an unpleasant sense of stress, unease, pushing, and pressure . . . and if we meet delays or roadblocks or flat-out failure, then dopamine plummets, which feels like disappointment, frustration, even despair. To avoid the pain of dopamine dropping, we drive hard toward our goals, caught up in wanting and desire.

This dopamine system – and related but more evolutionarily recent and sophisticated emotions and thoughts layered upon it – was very effective in keeping our ancestors alive in the wild. And it works well today to keep us motivated during emergencies or necessary marathons of effort, from finals week in college to long runs of advocacy on behalf of a loved one.

But even at best, there is an inherent collateral damage in being motivated by need, urgency, and pressure. It narrows focus to a particular goal in the cross-hairs of tunnel vision. It feels tense, contracted, and uncomfortable – and usually triggers the stress-response system, whose chronic activation has many negative consequences for long-tem health and well-being. Many goals are just not reachable – so we feel bad if we are fixed on attaining them – and even if we do get the desired result, its gratifications are often less than promised, and in any case they fade eventually from awareness like sand slipping through the fingers of consciousness.

And at worst, inner and outer pressures drive us to pursue goals and desires that are bad for us and others. There we are: trying to live up to unrealistic standards, comparing ourselves to others, feeling like we’re falling short, putting the work-life balance on tilt, looking for love in all the wrong places, being hard on oneself or others, pushing to the edge of capacity, and sooner or later running on empty.

Whew. Enough already. Time to ease off the pressure!

How?

(There are lots of ways below to take the pressure off. Just find one or two that you like – there’s no pressure in dropping the pressure!)

Remind yourself that you can act in competent, honorable, and successful ways even when there is no sense of pressure. You can give yourself over to wholesome aspirations, letting them carry you along with resolve and passion, staying true to your own North Star without straining and stressing along the way. You can be prudent, love others, rise in your chosen work, and nurture our planet without feeling like there’s a stick at your back.

When things come at you – phone calls, wants from others, a fevered pace – try to get a sense of a buffer between you and them, a kind of shock absorber, like you are seeing them through the wrong end of a telescope. Slow things down a beat, a breath, a day. Offer yourself the gift of time – time to figure out if this is really a priority, and when it really needs to get done.

Listen to your body. Are you getting that pressed/squeezed/driven feeling again? Listen to your heart, like it’s a wise sweet being who loves you: what’s it saying?

Be aware of the “shoulds” and “musts” muttering – or shouting – in your mind. Are they really true? And are they really you rather than an internalized parent or other authority figure. What would happen if you dialed back one bit, slowed down by one step, or got one less thing done each day? Let it sink in that there’d be no disaster at all. In fact, probably no one but you would ever notice!

Be easier on yourself. Lower your standards a smidge – unless you’re doing brain surgery or something similar, you can likely afford to lighten up a little.

Be realistic about how long things really take, and how often there’s a slip ‘twixt cup and lip in the affairs of mice and men. Try not to make commitments that will be hard to fulfill; don’t write checks with your mouth that your body can’t cash.

Remember that you are a fundamentally good person. Even if you lower the pressure and a few things get done more slowly or not at all, you are still a good person.

Keep coming back to this moment – in which things are probably usually basically all right. Not perfect, but consider the Third Zen Patriarch’s teaching that enlightenment means (among other things) no anxiety about imperfection. In this moment, you are likely safe enough, fed enough, and loved enough.

You can lower the pressure.


Mental Models: How to Train Your Brain to Think in New Ways

August 23rd, 2017 / No Comments »

the strategy 1080527 1280 300x199 Mental Models: How to Train Your Brain to Think in New Ways

(Reposted from James Clear.)

You can train your brain to think better. One of the best ways to do this is to expand the set of mental models you use to think. Let me explain what I mean by sharing a story about a world-class thinker.

I first discovered what a mental model was and how useful the right one could be while I was reading a story about Richard Feynman, the famous physicist. Feynman received his undergraduate degree from MIT and his Ph.D. from Princeton. During that time, he developed a reputation for waltzing into the math department and solving problems that the brilliant Ph.D. students couldn’t solve.

When people asked how he did it, Feynman claimed that his secret weapon was not his intelligence, but rather a strategy he learned in high school. According to Feynman, his high school physics teacher asked him to stay after class one day and gave him a challenge.

“Feynman,” the teacher said, “you talk too much and you make too much noise. I know why. You’re bored. So I’m going to give you a book. You go up there in the back, in the corner, and study this book, and when you know everything that’s in this book, you can talk again.” 

So each day, Feynman would hide in the back of the classroom and study the book—Advanced Calculus by Woods—while the rest of the class continued with their regular lessons. And it was while studying this old calculus textbook that Feynman began to develop his own set of mental models.

“That book showed how to differentiate parameters under the integral sign,” Feynman wrote. “It turns out that’s not taught very much in the universities; they don’t emphasize it. But I caught on how to use that method, and I used that one damn tool again and again. So because I was self-taught using that book, I had peculiar methods of doing integrals.”

“The result was, when the guys at MIT or Princeton had trouble doing a certain integral, it was because they couldn’t do it with the standard methods they had learned in school. If it was a contour integration, they would have found it; if it was a simple series expansion, they would have found it. Then I come along and try differentiating under the integral sign, and often it worked. So I got a great reputation for doing integrals, only because my box of tools was different from everybody else’s, and they had tried all their tools on it before giving the problem to me.”

Every Ph.D. student at Princeton and MIT is brilliant. What separated Feynman from his peers wasn’t necessarily raw intelligence. It was the way he saw the problem. He had a broader set of mental models.

What is a Mental Model?

A mental model is an explanation of how something works. It is a concept, framework, or worldview that you carry around in your mind.

For example, supply and demand is a mental model that helps you understand how the economy works. Game theory is a mental model that helps you understand how relationships and trust work. Entropy is a mental model that helps you understand how disorder and decay work.

Mental models guide your perception and behavior. They are the thinking tools that you use to understand life, make decisions, and solve problems. Learning a new mental model gives you a new way to see the world—like Richard Feynman learning a new math technique.

Mental models are imperfect, but useful. There is no single mental model from physics or engineering, for example, that provides a flawless explanation of the entire universe, but the best mental models from those disciplines have allowed us to build bridges and roads, develop new technologies, and even travel to outer space. As historian Yuval Noah Harari puts it, “Scientists generally agree that no theory is 100 percent correct. Thus, the real test of knowledge is not truth, but utility.”

The best mental models are the ideas with the most utility. They are broadly useful in daily life. Understanding these concepts will help you make wiser choices and take better actions. This is why developing a broad base of mental models is critical for anyone interested in thinking clearly, rationally, and effectively.

The Secret to Great Thinking

Expanding your set of mental models is something experts need to work on just as much as novices. We all have our favorite mental models, the ones we naturally default to as an explanation for how or why something happened. As you grow older and develop expertise in a certain area, you tend to favor the mental models that are most familiar to you.

Here’s the problem: when a certain worldview dominates your thinking, you’ll try to explain every problem you face through that worldview. This pitfall is particularly easy to slip into when you’re smart or talented in a given area.

The more you master a single mental model, the more likely it becomes that this mental model will be your downfall because you’ll start applying it indiscriminately to every problem. What looks like expertise is often a limitation. As the common proverb says, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

Consider this example from biologist Robert Sapolsky. He asks, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” Then, he provides answers from different experts.

  • If you ask an evolutionary biologist, they might say, “The chicken crossed the road because they saw a potential mate on the other side.”
  • If you ask a kinesiologist, they might say, “The chicken crossed the road because the muscles in the leg contracted and pulled the leg bone forward during each step.”
  • If you ask a neuroscientist, they might say, “The chicken crossed the road because the neurons in the chicken’s brain fired and triggered the movement.”

Technically speaking, none of these experts are wrong. But nobody is seeing the entire picture either. Each individual mental model is just one view of reality. The challenges and situations we face in life cannot be entirely explained by one field or industry.

All perspectives hold some truth. None of them contain the complete truth.

Relying on a narrow set of thinking tools is like wearing a mental straight jacket. Your cognitive range of motion is limited. When your set of mental models is limited, so is your potential for finding a solution. In order to unleash your full potential, you have to collect a range of mental models. You have to build out your toolbox. Thus, the secret to great thinking is to learn and employ a variety of mental models.

Expanding Your Set of Mental Models

The process of accumulating mental models is somewhat like improving your vision. Each eye can see something on its own. But if you cover one of them, you lose part of the scene. It’s impossible to see the full picture when you’re only looking through one eye.

Similarly, mental models provide an internal picture of how the world works. We should continuously upgrade and improve the quality of this picture. This means reading widely from good books, studying the fundamentals of seemingly unrelated fields, and learning from people with wildly different life experiences. 

The mind’s eye needs a variety of mental models to piece together a complete picture of how the world works. The more sources you have to draw upon, the clearer your thinking becomes. As the philosopher Alain de Botton notes, “The chief enemy of good decisions is a lack of sufficient perspectives on a problem.”

The Pursuit of Liquid Knowledge

In school, we tend to separate knowledge into different silos—biology, economics, history, physics, philosophy. In the real world, information is rarely divided into neatly defined categories. In the words of Charlie Munger, “All the wisdom of the world is not to be found in one little academic department.” 

World-class thinkers are often silo-free thinkers. They avoid looking at life through the lens of one subject. Instead, they develop “liquid knowledge” that flows easily from one topic to the next.

This is why it is important to not only learn new mental models, but to consider how they connect with one another. Creativity and innovation often arise at the intersection of ideas. By spotting the links between various mental models, you can identify solutions that most people overlook.

Tools for Thinking Better

Here’s the good news:

You don’t need to master every detail of every subject to become a world-class thinker. Of all the mental models humankind has generated throughout history, there are just a few dozen that you need to learn to have a firm grasp of how the world works.

Many of the most important mental models are the big ideas from disciplines like biology, chemistry, physics, economics, mathematics, psychology, philosophy. Each field has a few mental models that form the backbone of the topic. For example, some of the pillar mental models from economics include ideas like Incentives, Scarcity, and Economies of Scale.

If you can master the fundamentals of each discipline, then you can develop a remarkably accurate and useful picture of life. To quote Charlie Munger again, “80 or 90 important models will carry about 90 percent of the freight in making you a worldly-wise person. And, of those, only a mere handful really carry very heavy freight.”

I’ve made it a personal mission to uncover the big models that carry the heavy freight in life. After researching more than 1,000 different mental models, I gradually narrowed it down to a few dozen that matter most. I’ve written about some of them previously, like entropy and inversion, and I’ll be covering more of them in the future. If you’re interested, you can browse my slowly expanding list of mental models.

My hope is to create a list of the most important mental models from a wide range of disciplines and explain them in a way that is not only easy to understand, but also meaningful and practical to the daily life of the average person. With any luck, we can all learn how to think just a little bit better.

 


The Emotional Cost of Change in Relationships

July 28th, 2017 / No Comments »

engagement 1718244 1280 300x199 The Emotional Cost of Change in Relationships
Making changes around in your life?  I bet you have calculated the cost of these changes, and probably even figured out who will oversee the change.  Maybe you even figured out a time estimate of how much of your schedule will be devoted to implementing the change.  However, what I am betting is that what you have overlooked is the emotional cost of the change.

Humans, as a species, tend to like homeostasis.  We are actually physically and mentally designed to maintain internal balance and equilibrium.  Translation?  We like stuff to be familiar and not too far off from our usual operating style.  Things that are different from our expected equilibrium tend to throw us off.  Change, by definition, involves difference.

We tend to account for the “cost” of change when we are doing something like implementing a new record keeping system at our office.  Implementing a new record system typically means training, practice on the new system before it launches and then support from the vendor on making the change.  The overlooked item, however, is the emotional impact on the staff.  The new system means change, and change means difference, which inherently means balance is off for your staff.  This is why even the slickest, nicest new systems get complaints and resistance to use.  Accounting for the emotional imbalance of the new system means giving staff some room to miss the old system while embracing the new one.

One of the most glaring places we forget to account for the emotional cost or savings of something is in our relationships.  Making new friends, dating new people (yikes!), going home for summer vacation to see our family, or in some cases, the importance of letting go of a toxic person in our life.  Fantastic relationships make all the difference in our lives.  Healthy connections generally mean feeling happy!  However, navigating new, different or even old relationships (hello, high school reunion!)  can bring up a wide variety of emotions.

When you are making relationship changes, it is especially important to take your emotional “temperature.”  How do your relationships make you feel?  Warm and fuzzy and loved?  Or threatened and anxious that you’re not good enough.  Do you find yourself reverting to your rebellious teenage self when you go home for a visit?  Do you suddenly feel terrible about yourself when you’re trying to get ready for a new date?  (Hint: you’re nervous, you look fine!). Or is there someone who always behaves badly and you are ready to stop indulging their bad behavior?  Knowing your patterns and letting go of the toxic folks will improve your emotional well-being.  Instead of being an emotional cost, you can reap an emotional savings!

Make sure you are examining the emotional cost or benefit to your relationships.  That way the next time you are interacting with others, you can easily know yourself and your patterns.  You will know what not-so-perfect behaviors in others you will tolerate and what you won’t.  This will make changes like making new friends, or changing the nature of your relationships, cost less.  Change can be necessary and important, even in relationships, but it doesn’t have to be costly in the emotional realm if you are remembering to account for that cost.

 


Entropy: Why Life Always Seems to Get More Complicated

June 26th, 2017 / No Comments »

pieces of the puzzle 1925422 1920 300x200 Entropy: Why Life Always Seems to Get More Complicated

(Reposted from James Clear)

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”

This pithy statement references the annoying tendency of life to cause trouble and make things difficult. Problems seem to arise naturally on their own, while solutions always require our attention, energy, and effort. Life never seems to just work itself out for us. If anything, our lives become more complicated and gradually decline into disorder rather than remaining simple and structured.

Why is that?

Murphy’s Law is just a common adage that people toss around in conversation, but it is related to one of the great forces of our universe. This force is so fundamental to the way our world works that it permeates nearly every endeavor we pursue. It drives many of the problems we face and leads to disarray. It is the one force that governs everybody’s life: Entropy.

What is Entropy and Why Does It Matter?

What is entropy? Here’s a simple way to think about it:

Imagine that you take a box of puzzle pieces and dump them out on a table. In theory, it is possible for the pieces to fall perfectly into place and create a completed puzzle when you dump them out of the box. But in reality, that never happens.

Why?

Quite simply, because the odds are overwhelmingly against it. Every piece would have to fall in just the right spot to create a completed puzzle. There is only one possible state where every piece is in order, but there are a nearly infinite number of states where the pieces are in disorder. Mathematically speaking, an orderly outcome is incredibly unlikely to happen at random.

Similarly, if you build a sand castle on the beach and return a few days later, it will no longer be there. There is only one combination of sand particles that looks like your sand castle. Meanwhile, there are a nearly infinite number of combinations that don’t look like it.

Again, in theory, it is possible for the wind and waves to move the sand around and create the shape of your sand castle. But in practice, it never happens. The odds are astronomically higher that sand will be scattered into a random clump. 

These simple examples capture the essence of entropy. Entropy is a measure of disorder. And there are always far more disorderly variations than orderly ones.

Why Does Entropy Matter for Your Life?

Here’s the crucial thing about entropy: it always increases over time.

It is the natural tendency of things to lose order. Left to its own devices, life will always become less structured. Sand castles get washed away. Weeds overtake gardens. Ancient ruins crumble. Cars begin to rust. People gradually age. With enough time, even mountains erode and their precise edges become rounded. The inevitable trend is that things become less organized.

This is known as the Second Law of Thermodynamics. It is one of the foundational concepts of chemistry and it is one of the fundamental laws of our universe. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that the entropy of a closed system will never decrease. 

“The law that entropy always increases holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature.” —Arthur Eddington

The great British scientist Arthur Eddington claimed, “The law that entropy always increases holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations—then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation—well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the Second Law of Thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.” 

In the long run, nothing escapes the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The pull of entropy is relentless. Everything decays. Disorder always increases.

Without Effort, Life Tends to Lose Order

Before you get depressed, there is good news.

You can fight back against the pull of entropy. You can solve a scattered puzzle. You can pull the weeds out of your garden. You can clean a messy room. You can organize individuals into a cohesive team. 

But because the universe naturally slides toward disorder, you have to expend energy to create stability, structure, and simplicity. Successful relationships require care and attention. Successful houses require cleaning and maintenance. Successful teams require communication and collaboration. Without effort, things will decay.

This insight—that disorder has a natural tendency to increase over time and that we can counteract that tendency by expending energy—reveals the core purpose of life. We must exert effort to create useful types of order that are resilient enough to withstand the unrelenting pull of entropy. 

“The ultimate purpose of life, mind, and human striving: to deploy energy and information to fight back the tide of entropy and carve out refuges of beneficial order.” —Steven Pinker

Maintaining organization in the face of chaos is not easy. In the words of Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, “The hardest thing in the world is to simplify your life because everything is pulling you to be more and more complex.”

Entropy will always increase on its own. The only way to make things orderly again is to add energy. Order requires effort. 

Entropy in Daily Life

Entropy helps explain many of the mysteries and experiences of daily life.

For example:

Why Life is Remarkable

Consider the human body.

The collection of atoms that make up your body could be arranged in a virtually infinite number of ways and nearly all of them lead to no form of life whatsoever. Mathematically speaking, the odds are overwhelmingly against your very presence. You are a very unlikely combination of atoms. And yet, here you are. It is truly remarkable.

In a universe where entropy rules the day, the presence of life with such organization, structure, and stability is stunning.

Why Art is Beautiful

Entropy offers a good explanation for why art and beauty are so aesthetically pleasing. Artists create a form of order and symmetry that, odds are, the universe would never generate on its own. It is so rare in the grand scheme of possibilities. The number of beautiful combinations is far less than the number of total combinations. Similarly, seeing a symmetrical face is rare and beautiful when there are so many ways for a face to be asymmetrical.

Beauty is rare and unlikely in a universe of disorder. And this gives us good reason to protect art. We should guard it and treat it as something sacred.

Why Marriage is Difficult

One of the most famous opening lines in literature comes from Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. He writes, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

There are many ways a marriage can fail—financial stress, parenting issues, crazy in-laws, conflicts in core values, lack of trust, infidelity, and so on. A deficiency in any one of these areas can wreck a family.

To be happy, however, you need some degree of success in each major area. Thus, all happy families are alike because they all have a similar structure. Disorder can occur in many ways, but order, in only a few.

Why Optimal Lives Are Designed Not Discovered

You have a combination of talents, skills, and interests that are specific to you. But you also live in a larger society and culture that were not designed with your specific abilities in mind. Given what we know about entropy, what do you think the odds are that the environment you happen to grow up in is also the optimal environment for your talents?

It is very unlikely that life is going to present you with a situation that perfectly matches your strengths. Out of all the possible scenarios you could encounter, it’s far more likely that you’ll encounter one that does not cater to your talents.

Evolutionary biologists use a term called “mismatch conditions” to describe when an organism is not well-suited for a condition it is facing. We have common phrases for mismatch conditions: “like a fish out of water” or “bring a knife to a gunfight.” Obviously, when you are in a mismatch condition, it is more difficult to succeed, to be useful, and to win.

It is likely you’ll face mismatch conditions in your life. At the very least, life will not be optimal—maybe you didn’t grow up in the optimal culture for your interests, maybe you were exposed to the wrong subject or sport, maybe you were born at the wrong time in history. It is far more likely that you are living in a mismatch condition than in a well-matched one.

Knowing this, you must take it upon yourself to design your ideal lifestyle. You have to turn a mismatch condition into a well-matched one. Optimal lives are designed, not discovered. 

Murphy’s Law Applied to the Universe

Finally, let’s return to Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”

Entropy provides a good explanation for why Murphy’s Law seems to pop up so frequently in life. There are more ways things can go wrong than right. The difficulties of life do not occur because the planets are misaligned or because some cosmic force is conspiring against you. It is simply entropy at work. As one scientist put it, “Entropy is sort of like Murphy’s Law applied to the entire universe.” 

It is nobody’s fault that life has problems. It is simply a law of probability. There are many disordered states and few ordered ones. Given the odds against us, what is remarkable is not that life has problems, but that we can solve them at all.

 


The Upgraded 4 Burner Theory

March 27th, 2017 / No Comments »

Stove Burners 300x200 The Upgraded 4 Burner Theory

A while back I read an excellent article by master blogger James Clear on what he called the 4-burner theory. Despite loving the overall concept, I rejected the idea of only having 4 burners. Partially I rejected the number 4 because I prefer odd numbers to even, partially because I just couldn’t quite get around the 4 generic burners and wanted to create my own unique burners. Mostly, I rejected the theory because I love to cook and dream of cooking on one of those bad-ass, huge, 6 burner Viking stoves. Since I’m unlikely to ever have a house big enough to warrant an industrial stove, at least I want one of those fancy cooktops with 4 burners and the grill-thingy in the middle. So, let’s imagine 5 total burners.

What is the point of the burner theory anyway, you ask? Each burner represents a priority in our life. Our top 5 priorities make up our lovely stove. The concept suggests that we can only have a few things on our metaphorical stove at one time, and certainly we can’t effectively work with all of our burners on high all the time. Everything burns when we try this. Therefore, not only do you need to narrow your priorities down to 4-6 items (whatever the size of your “stove”), but you also then need to identify which ones are on high in the front and what is simmering in the back.

Recently, if you have been paying attention to my blog, or lack thereof, it is clear that writing for my website went off the burners. Now part of this is caused by my difficulty with writing (I get anxious about it and then procrastinate), part of this is that my other priorities have been taking up time and energy, so the marketing pot has been off the stove entirely, waiting for a chance to get back on a burner.

Here’s how I think my burners should look: Front and center are My Business and Parenting and these are high heat priorities, needing lots of my time and attention. In the back coming along nicely on lower heat are Relationship and Friends/Family.  In the middle is my Health/Self-Care. When this combo is in play, I am feeling good, taking loving care of myself and my connections and actively working in my business and on being a good mom.

The problem comes in when there are additional requests for my attention. For example, my family was in town in January and February. It was fabulous to have them here, but something needed to move to the back burner when they moved up to the front burner. Thus, no blogs for a while, and I missed my volunteering days at my daughter’s school.  Add in a big project, like writing a book (stay tuned, I really, actually, have one that is soooo close!!!!!) and all of a sudden I need to stay home on Friday night to put time in on that project instead of relaxing with my honey. Get the tradeoffs that need to be made?  It is critical to be realistic with yourself not just about what your real priorities are, but also how you’re going to balance them over time.

Take a moment and identify your top priorities.  Do you have a 4, 5, or 6 burner stove? What is up front on high and what can be on simmer? Anything on the counter waiting for a chance at a burner? When do the burners change for you? How can you plan for this more, and get transparent with others about where your priorities are this month? Getting clear, making a plan to address your priorities and being real about how much you can actually attend to at one time makes all the difference in managing the competing priorities of life. Happy cooking!