Aug. 24, 2021

Shortcuts and Rabbit Holes

Shortcuts and Rabbit Holes
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This episode is about wanting to get to my goals by finding shortcuts. It wasn't until I realized that being down rabbit holes was as important as my destination. Once I was able to shift my mindset to a place of acceptance I was able to slow down and be empowered by the journey.

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Identify & Conquer is your go-to mental health fitness podcast. Focusing on brain mental, emotional, and psychological health. Mental health fitness is making a plan, doing the work, and being part of a community for support. 

Welcome to identify and conquer brought to you by The Now Chronicles. 

I sit here day after day for months now, spending hours upon hours, researching key components to help guide me through this new adventure I am on. There's a lot to learn and a lot of rabbit holes to go down. I'm struggling with shortcuts and rabbit holes. I want shortcuts, but instead, I'm spending time down numerous rabbit holes. I like learning new things. And I'm the type of person who likes to research the hell out of something - with the mindset that it's actually saving me time.

I don't want to go too far down in one direction to learn that I should have been doing something else from the start. Learning that I can't do this, if I haven't first done that, is very frustrating to me, especially when it means I need to now backtrack. This is exactly why I prefer to learn things sooner rather than later.

I believe all the upfront research down these rabbit holes is saving me from making a lot of mistakes. It's saving me time. At least I hope so. I end up overwhelmed and toying with the idea of giving up because ultimately, it's winding up to be too much work. Or I convinced myself that it's too hard. But I'm down these rabbit holes because I know other people have already done this work. They've laid the groundwork and they're willing to share their experiences and I'm happy to learn from them. But I also now need to examine more rabbit holes. And actually, I need to vet the people who I'm taking information and instruction from. This is key because there are plenty of people out there willing to sell you their experience and their knowledge.

However, I'm not exactly sure if what they're selling me is the information I need. What if it's something I already know? Or what if they're not really a trusted source? There are people out there who are not charging for information like chats and forums. So now I have that in front of me and I can go down those rabbit holes.

I find when you go down enough of them in an effort to be thorough, I end up with conflicting information - with good arguments that support both ends, but conflicting information nonetheless. And now I have to figure out what works for me. I know that different things work for different people. So this conflicting information makes sense.

I've also learned when I think I have a handle on something. I very quickly learned that I didn't, that I missed a step or there are options out there that I may want to consider. I jumped down one rabbit hole to prove or disprove a theory only to find more people have an extra bit of information or contradict somebody else's information.

This is what keeps me wishing for shortcuts, but instead, I'm living down rabbit holes. It's frustrating because I'd like to be at the doing part of my journey. I'd like to already be making significant progress instead of researching and learning. I'd rather be at my end insight already. At the very least. I'd like to feel a little bit closer to my end insight and more and more research makes me feel further and further away. And right now, I'm down multiple rabbit holes at one time. I don't feel like I'm making any progress. I want to be six months down the road in this relationship with my new adventure.

I frequently think to myself. I wish there were shortcuts. I wish there were an easier way. The more I think about wishing there were shortcuts. The more I realized that if there were everyone who is interested in this journey would take them. Then it would be easy for everybody. And success would no longer have the same meaning. Our accomplishments don't come without doing the work to be good at something in order to have a quality contribution to something we needed to first put in the time and do the work.

It's not possible to be a brain surgeon just because you want to be a brain surgeon, you need to go to school, have the training, the guidance, and the practice before we even have the privilege of being a brain surgeon. Thank you. 

It's not enough to just want something. We need to want something bad enough that we understand that doing the work and making it happen is an essential part.

We need to see doing the work to achieve our goals as a meaningful part of a journey, not an inconvenience. I need to remember to remind myself of this when I'm losing my drive or feeling overwhelmed. All of these things are very important and necessary while leaving me vulnerable and frustrated at times.

And I want shortcuts enough of the rabbit hole. But in these rabbit holes, I'm acquiring skills. I'm meeting people, I'm learning lessons from their mistakes and from their advice, I'm gaining an understanding of why certain things are the way that they are. This is all making me stronger and more confident as I weigh out the things that I've learned in making choices regarding which components work for me.

Having invested a significant amount of time and having followed a necessary process of growth and learning helps ensure that the people at the finish line are the right people. For the most part, meaning no one gets to be a brain surgeon just because they want to.  The only ones who get to be brain surgeons are the people who have done the work.

That's why there are no shortcuts. 

The dedication, commitment, and time invested are all essential. The lessons learned and the skills acquired are all necessary. The stumbles and falls, the mistakes and missteps are all part of the process and all part of what makes the accomplishment truly our own. We cannot fully learn something.

If we don't participate in the process and develop the skills and knowledge to get us there, no one can just hand us their knowledge and infuse it into our brain. Some people get to their destinations quicker than others. Part of that is people taking the time to educate themselves and not just jump in without trying to figure out the proper way of doing things.

Learning that there's a procedure in doing things to implement that procedure is part of our success. Well, that and having the required skills to do whatever it is that you're trying to do, we all need skills thinking you're great at what you do and thinking you deserve recognition and success isn't enough.

That mindset will hurt us. 

If we believe that's all it takes. 

It comes down to hard work, time, commitment, and consistency. Those are the keys to achieving success. Other important components are truly having a passion for what you do and not just seeing it as an avenue for financial success. When we truly feel we are where we're supposed to be.

And we truly feel that it's feeding our spirit. This is where success lives, even if it takes time for it to happen. Without the passion and the drive financial success could leave us feeling empty. Even though there are times where I wish there were shortcuts, I wish I could have a magic wand and be further along on my journey. The reality is I'm not. So here I am restarting this journey after years of being away. And I need to accept that I need to do the work to re-establish myself. I don't get to just pick up where I left off. I need to understand that things have changed since I was a professional speaker, facilitator, and radio host years ago.

I need to appreciate them. I need to accept them as necessary. I finally realized that this is the journey I am in the doing. This gaining knowledge and this gaining information are moving me in the right direction. This is the doing part. 

The intention of a shortcut is to bypass certain things to get somewhere quicker. But when we bypass steps and skipped things to get to where we want to be, chances are we find we needed to go back because we miss something important. We most likely wasted time by jumping ahead thinking we were making progress. Instead of wishing for shortcuts, we need to keep our head down, continue research and continue learning from others.

Continue having the conversations we need to have to help keep us on our path and guide us. That's the roadmap to progress and the roadmap to success. Once I got to that place of acceptance, I could feel the energy and the positivity running through me when I was engaging in the process. I no longer resented that I'm not at the doing part. I will get to the real doing part soon enough. 

Plus the result will be more rewarding because I'm gaining a sense of accomplishment with each and every victory along the way. It's no longer about reaching my end in sight. I have realized I'm not sure I'll ever reach my end in sight, that it adjusts and moves along the way.

As I learn new things and gain new experiences. I also shift what my goals in life are going to be. 

So I'm now in understanding and acceptance that end in sight is not the goal, gaining knowledge and making progress, and working towards something is the goal. As I go on this journey, I've decided I make little endpoints, little destinations to pinpoint along my way, little mini goals with deadlines. This way I can stop and feel the success as I moved down this path. 

But there are some dangers regarding the rabbit holes. First, we let them intimidate us and they cause us to stop. And second, there's a little thing called creative procrastination. So let's deal with the first one. If you don't change your mindset and accept that a certain amount of time will be spent in research and planning that you can't just jump into what it is you want to do. It can cause you to get intimidated by all the rabbit holes and cause you to give up. I get that. There were times where I sat in front of my computer with so many tabs open. Each one of them representing a rabbit hole with someone suggesting more rabbit holes to explore. I felt like giving up. There was no way I was ever going to get to a place of understanding.

There were so many times where I would be researching my way down a few rabbit holes at a time only to realize there’s something else I needed to learn about. Are you kidding me? This was supposed to be quick and simple in my head. I was supposed to just research some things and get started. 

I got to a point where I could actually see the light at the end of the tunnel. And the general understanding component was making sense. I looked at this list of new tools and skills, and I decided I don't really need to know all of this right now. I didn't feel that I was overwhelmed anymore. But I could only get to that place by moving forward, making progress, and not giving up.

Now that I had this general understanding of where I was going and where I wanted to go. I began a list of the other rabbit holes that were suggested. Each one's essential, I get that, but not all of them are essential right now. 

So I would look at this list that was accumulating and look at each item. And I would ask myself, “Is this essential before I begin or something that I can learn or research later on that will help me in my tweaking and evolving stage?” If it was necessary right away, then I would dig into it and I would learn this too. But if it was something that I felt was really more important in the tweaking and evolving stage, then I would bookmark it and I would save it for future exploration.

This new process helped me to keep pushing through. And eventually, I got to a place where I knew I had enough knowledge to start again and most important that had to be with the understanding that I keep learning, and I keep researching, and I keep evolving as I go. If I don't take the time to assess new things that were coming out and thrown at me, I would not have felt comfortable with the basic knowledge. And I would have kept plowing through rabbit hole after rabbit hole. 

And I would transition to what I call creative procrastination. So this is the other danger of the rabbit holes. Creative procrastination is when you allow the tasks and everything else that makes us look busy, but actually distracts us from the actual doing part - that's creative procrastination.

We look like we're busy, we think we're making progress, but we're actually procrastinating. We do this when we're scared. We're scared of what comes next, or we're scared that we're not really prepared. 

So let's put all of that to rest and just know. We're never fully prepared. Acceptance that learning and research are part of any new adventure makes it so much easier. 

And we need to ask ourselves, is there really a true starting and stopping point? I'm not sure there is accepting that when we are ready to encounter something new, going down, rabbit holes and research, Is important. Once we shift our mindset to understand that rabbit holes are a fondant important part of our personal growth while paying attention to it also becoming a tool to engage in creative procrastination. 

Once we get there, we can see this as a fun engaging part and not something that we avoid or resent. Learning the balance when to stop and save other things for later, and when to explore things right now. That’s key.  Also not allowing it to detract us from our goals and intimidate us is very important.

Also, be okay with the movement of your goals and enjoy little accomplishments along the way. One of the practices and teaching of dialectical behavioral therapy is that we should all always be working towards mastering something. But I know people who don't have goals or hobbies and they simply get up each day, they go to work, they come home, they eat dinner, they relax, and they go to bed and started all over the next day.

Rinse and repeat, how fun is that? 

What are you looking to master? What do you need to learn? What skills or knowledge do you need to acquire before you can get onto that next place in your life? The place that your soul is calling out to you to get to.  Start it now.  Start it today. No one can do it for you. It's your knowledge to gain it's your skills to acquire.

They're your mistakes to make, your rabbit holes to explore.  Without doing the work, you will not gain the strength or the confidence you need to successfully navigate to the place that you are trying to get to. 

I want to share a story with you, “The Little Boy, His Grandfather, and The Cocoon” it’s sometimes called “The Little Boy, His Grandfather, and The Butterfly.” 

The story is attributed to Henry Miller. 

A young boy walked up to his grandfather, a very wise man who was sitting and looking at something in his hand. 

“What is that?”, The boy asked, 

“it's a cocoon.” His grandfather told him “Inside the cocoon, is a butterfly. Soon the cocoon will split, and the butterfly will come out.” 

“Could I have it?” asked the little boy. 

“Yes.” Said his grandpa. “But you must promise me that when the cocoon splits and the butterfly is beating its wings to get out, you won't help it.  Don't help the butterfly by breaking the cocoon apart, let it get out by itself.”

The little boy promised, and he took the cocoon home, and then he sat and watched. Finally, he saw it, begin to vibrate, move, and quiver.  At last, the cocoon split inside the beautiful damp butterfly frantically beating its wings inside the cocoon, trying to get out. 

The butterfly didn't seem to be able to get free and the little boy desperately wanted to help. 

Finally, he gave in, and he disobeyed his grandfather's order. He pushed the two halves of the cocoon apart, and the butterfly sprang out. 

As soon as it got up into the air, it fell down to the ground and died. The little boy picked up the dead butterfly and in tears, he went to his grandfather to show him. 

His grandfather asked the boy, “you pushed open the cocoon, didn't you?”

“Yes.” Said the little boy “I did.” 

“You don't understand. When the butterfly flies free from the cocoon, the only way it can strengthen its wings is by beating them against the cocoon, it beats against the cocoon so its muscles will grow. And when you help it, the way that you did, you prevented it from getting stronger and being able to fly. That's why the butterfly fell to the ground and died.” 

My sister sent that story to me when I was complaining about wanting shortcuts. It illustrates why we can't have shortcuts, why we need to accomplish things on our own and make our own mistakes. We can certainly learn from others and receive guidance from the mistakes and accomplishments of others, but a good amount of the work needs to be from the rabbit holes that we go down and the time that it takes for us to build our strength and our knowledge and the tools and skills that we need to accomplish what we are going for. 

Go after your dreams, even though they'll take time, even though you'll need to learn new skills and gain knowledge, this is how confidence and self-worth is developed. This is where you earn the sense of accomplishment that brings fulfillment. The things that give our life purpose.

Please go to to join our mighty network. And let's get started on your rabbit holes. My name is Wendy Pilcher and I thank you for listening to this episode of Identify & Conquer. This podcast is the end result of so many rabbit holes. And I know I need to go down more, both to improve my skills as a podcaster, and to continue to research and develop the content for this show.

Please follow this podcast on whatever platform you listen to, it really helps us and join our community to discuss topics on the podcast or any other mental health fitness topic you would like to discuss. You can find the community through this podcast’s website or, you can go right to the community at

This podcast is produced by The Now Chronicles, theme and incidental music is by Annie’s Takeout. Editing and mixing are done by Purple Spells. And remember, you can change your brain, if you want to, and if you're willing to do the work.