I Think I’ll Just Move Some Boxes Around
/ Author: Joshua Pastoor
/ Categories: Blogs, Newsletters, National /
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I Think I’ll Just Move Some Boxes Around

Avoidance can be to your detriment. But it can also be an indispensable tool in service to what’s important to you

By Josh Pastoor, Regional Director, Fort St. John Member Centre

I had so much to do last week Tuesday. I had to review a complex termination case with legal counsel, take part in several emotionally difficult phone calls with union members upset over workplace vaccine mandates, and update my minor hockey coaching certification.

Paid work is challenging enough. Why do they make volunteering difficult, too?

Emails needed immediate follow-up, and the list went on. It was daunting.

So what does a conscientious, highly efficient working professional do on a day like this? Well, I’m not sure. But I can tell you what I did.

I got into the office nice and early, grabbed a coffee, promptly made my way into the long-neglected office storage room, and moved boxes around. Yes, you read that correctly. I moved boxes around. And I moved them around well.

The storage room was clean, but it didn’t really matter. Mornings like my last Tuesday show the obvious pitfalls of avoidance. But what about the upside?

As I lamented my lack of steely resolve to buckle down and get to the “real” work that day, I was reminded of a meeting from a few weeks prior. Our representative team got together to discuss a difficult labour relations issue. For a short period of time, we avoided engaging with other work issues, silenced incoming phone calls, and set aside all other urgent demands in service to the one task in front of us.

What followed was an engaging, rigorous discussion around the problem at hand, and a workable path forward in a complex situation. All made possible by a well-timed, helpful form of avoidance.

Avoidance is a bit complicated like that. On some days—like last Tuesday in the storage room—I used avoidance to my detriment. It kept me from getting to things that I really care about, although taking some time to do a physical chore did clear up the headspace I needed to think through those difficult tasks ahead. 

On other days—like my day in the office with my colleagues—I use avoidance as an indispensable tool in service to what’s important to me. It’s yet another reminder of the complexity of the world we live in.

Yesterday’s moral imperative, when viewed through the lens of today’s issues, can feel more like an empty, irrelevant platitude. Which leads me to consider: what other strategies, habits, or behaviours in my life are in need of a more nuanced look?

I ought to think about that a bit . . . but maybe best to avoid it for now. It seems like a lot of work.

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