My placement in Ghana continues to go really well. The team is appreciative and receptive to new concepts, and they routinely express how happy they are to have me here. The Executive Director is also pleased and has invited me to return again next year. I’m learning so much about Ghana, its citizens, and frankly, a lot about myself.

But my success does not come without its pressures. Underneath all of this positive energy is a nagging anxiety. Am I making use of every moment I have with them? Are they really getting it? If not, what should I be doing differently? Once my mind starts to spiral, the self-doubt and denial flow freely until I’m in a total head spin… What am I doing with my life? Why am I here? The pressure builds until it becomes hard to focus.

Over the past two weeks, my attempts to do any activity by myself, especially at the computer, has been a disaster. Writing is the worst. It feels like every 5-10 minutes I stop what I am doing to go work on something else. By the end of the day, I review and realize that while I made small progress on some things, I have made no real progress on anything. It’s frustrating because there are several neat projects coming-up in my future, including a five-day training in Uganda and a new placement in January, all of which require preparation.

There is so much I want to do and yet, the anxiety and lack of focus prevent me from doing it.

When I reflect on how to address the anxiety, it occurs to me that I might be able to approach the situation like I would a meeting facilitation.  Before I start, I spend time considering my purpose. This exercise grounds me, gives me clear direction, and helps me manage my expectations and emotions. And then I revisit the fundamental question of purpose: why am I here in Ghana?

to share this content with team members

to learn about new people and a new place

to explore a new part of the world

to grapple with self-development

to help others help themselves

And as I remind myself of these statements of purpose, I feel the muscles relax, and the angst calm. I am pleased to be reminded that I am doing what I planned to do, and I am once again able to focus. Here we go again.