Day-dreams win over one track goal-orientation

I'm back by Taho Scope via FlickrForget being goal oriented – it’s inherently evil

I’ve always been a day-dreamer.  It’s not that I don’t get things done.  But I’ve known since I was a teenager that getting things done is dangerous.  Psychologists like Peter Gollwitzer use more complicated impenetrable language.  Simply put, when we are going like a train, we are apt to run over other people and ultimately make a mess.

Better to chill and have a happy routine of work, look about, work, look about.  No need to be so stressed.

Living without dreams lacks soul

But to live without dreams, that is stressful. We become increasingly ill-tempered.

It’s a good thing that dreams don’t take no for an answer!

I don’t know what happens to other people but with me ultimately the dreams win.  I am fascinated by the size of my doodle books when I am overly busy.  I need my day dreams.   And I keep breaking off from work to doodle.

When too much dull work locks them out, my dreams simply break back in!  I am glad.  They are loyal friends.

They are also interesting friends.  When I entertain them, ideas  roll.  I love it.

The psychology of forward movement – kept real

Imagining goals doesn’t quite cut it

It’s a fact.  Our brains don’t distinguish very much between imagining something and doing it!  Mentally rehearse your perfect golf swing and your real one gets better.  Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?  Pity it doesn’t work with losing weight.

The trick is to imagine fully enough.  We have to be able to imagine something in its entirety and reasonably accurately.  We must have no objections or leave anything out!

That’s the rub.  By the time you can imagine something completely, or be totally confident that it will work, you have done it already, and probably often!

Using our brain’s confusion to our advantage but keeping it real

We want to capitalize on the inability of our brains to distinguish fact from fiction but we also want to keep it real.  We want to use our imagination to get us going, but bear in mind that we still have to do whatever it is that we do.  We still have to stumble and fall, and get ourselves up again.  (In fact, stumbling and falling and getting up again must be part of the story that we imagine – we need that skill of error recovery too!)

The ravine exercise

I’ve been using David Whyte’s story of walking alone in Nepal and coming to a ravine with a rickety bridge.  He couldn’t cross it and he couldn’t double back because he had insufficient supplies.  Panic!

We often find ourselves in similar predicaments.  We look at what we want – the other side of the ravine.  And we look at the bridge.  It’s too rickety to walk on.  The gap between where we are now and where we want to be feels too big.  We can’t help ourselves.  Our attention is drawn to the gap.   We stare at the ravine and the long drop down – and  we can think of nothing else.

The current advice is to do what you would do if you are on the edge of the ravine:  check your pockets, see what you have to help you, make sure you are safe.  Get your feet back on the ground. Then funnily, you find a way out of your predicament.  Or, at least survive until the rescue party arrives.

This metaphor works – but it is still hard to do.  The ravine draws our attention no matter how hard we try not to look at it.

The fast forward exercise

I’ve been trying out another mental trick but I haven’t tested it fully.  Would you try it too and let me know how it works?

Think of yourself as you are now, warts and all.  Now play yourself forward 10 years.  Don’t change a thing.  Just make yourself older and fatter!

You probably won’t like the image all that much. And you will be motivated to take the next step.  List the first thing to change and do it right now.

Do you do it?  Of course keep a record too.  In a few weeks, you’ll look back and be surprised at how much you have got done.

I’d also like to know how much effort it took and whether you got a lot done attending to little things.  The extra chocolate biscuit.  The internet banking that is not done.  Whatever!

The psychology of forward movement

The psychology is simple.  We keep our feet firmly on the ground rooted in now.  We imagine what we can imagine – what we understand – and roll it forward with obvious changes – slower, greyer, not as good looking.

Then do what has to be be done now.  It is so much easier!

At least, I hope it is.  Do tell me!

 

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The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness

This strange expression has been made popular by poet, David Whyte, who heard it first from a monk, counselling him during a bad bout of professional burnout.

It seems cruel, doesn’t it, to be told to put some elbow-grease into it, at a time we are so tired, we literally can’t think straight?

How does wholeheartedness cure exhaustion?

We feel exhausted, we become exhausted, when we pursue conflicted goals.  We become like the mouse in a maze with cheese to the left and cheese to the right. Deary me – which way to go?   It is the dithering that is exhausting.  Or being greedy and trying to get both lots of cheese at the same time.

We feel relaxed and at ease when we make up our minds about what we want to do

We have a heap of expressions for the sensation of getting moving.

  • We cross the Rubicon (from which there was no turning back as Ceasar and his troops marched on Rome).
  • The universe conspires to help us (Who said that?   It means that suddenly it is easy to do what seemed hard only moments ago.  And that people seem to go out of their way to help you.)
  • Our path opens up as we take the first step (Paulo Coelho tweeting on Saturday).  The path only becomes possible when we are totally committed to moving forward. Totally committed – with no reservations.

Clarity of goals generates energy – moving toward a goal multiplies energy

Action becomes so easy and so natural. ‘Getting things done’ is not the issue – it is never the issue.

Setting goals is the issue. Making up our minds is the hard part.

Do you know what you want?

Until we can distill our goals to a set that our smallish inefficient memories can remember (3 and at the most 5), we dither, and we wear ourselves out.

But is what you want, right?

You do know, I hope, that we become impossible when we pursue goals.  The dithering mouse turns into a juggernaut trampling over everyone and everything.

We must make sure that our goals are the right goals.

More this evening . . .

Postscript: Tuesday 15 September 2009

@paulocoelho: Cloning Confucius: a bird sings because he has a song, not because he has an answer

Do have a look at the rhyme added by Whappen in the comments.

The productivity of procrastination. Yes!

In the good company of entrepreneurs

Are you one of the 14% of UK’s working population who works for yourself.  I am!

And if you are, like me and so many others in UK and everywhere where solopreneurs and the Free Agent Nation are booming, you are probably obsessed with productivity and getting things done.

You also probably beat yourself up for procrastinating. And you feel really bad on days when you just cannot get yourself going?

Is that you? Well, you are in good company. We all feel the same way.

To stay sane, this is what you need to know about procrastination and productivity

1 Keep your to do list simple

2 Accept that some days you need to chill out

3 And for the surprise – procrastination may be a sign of experience

I am not going to write on keeping your to do list simple. Lot’s of people have done that. I also won’t write on chilling out. I’ll do that another day.

Let me stick to the surprise that procrastination is wise

. . . and remind you about Caesar as he sat with his army on the wrong side of the River Rubicon. He knew that once he crossed the Rubicon, he would be declaring war on the city of Rome. And battle would commence.

You are like Caesar waiting to invade Rome

Some times, when we are resisting getting down to work, we are in the same position as Caesar on the edge of the Rubi con. We know that once we cross, there is no going back. We will be causing less strife, but once we get started, we will accomplish this task no matter what.

As Caesar undertook a long march and bloody battles before he triumphed, so will we. We know we face long hours, physical fatigue, frustrations, disappointments, conflict and anger.

We know about the power of goals. Once we get going, we move inexorably toward them. We don’t get care what gets in our path. We trample over it all in our determination to win our prize.

With age comes wisdom

When we are twenty-something, we are very good at crossing the Rubicon because at that fresh age, we don’t really understand the damage we do as we stampede everyone in our way.

When we are older, we resist.  We know that the victory is not always worth the battle.  We know we emerge the other side as a different person. And there is no going back.   At the very least, we want to linger and enjoy the desultory delights of just being with people before battle commences and carnage ensues.

But we do get moving eventually

But we do get moving when battle calls.  We know, rather sadly, that we enjoy the battle even though it has consequences.   We will even make new friends, because undoubtedly once we set forth with a clear mission, the universe does conspire to help us.

Get you things. Dreams mean work.

So we dilly-dally for a while. Half-treasuring the present. Half-summoning up the psychological resources. Is that so unwise?

We will be leaving soon and we must say good-bye properly so we can so hello to a new dawn.

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