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When you sign up for a marathon you don’t want a taxi to take you to the finish line.
If you’re like me there’s an inner voice that says something like this: ‘you can start with that tomorrow, don’t you feel how tired you are? Tomorrow you will be better prepared.’ or ‘you deserve a rest, let’s do this another time and eat and sleep instead’ or ‘why the discipline? Don’t you deserve some fun for a change?’ While there might be times when this voice is actually right, more often than not it’s the start-blocker: it wants to keep me from starting things and instead do nothing.
But I enjoy running, writing or whatever else this voice is trying to keep me from doing. What’s so manipulative about this resistance, is that it frames itself as the caring and fun part while it frames whatever I want to do as hard and serious. But actually it’s the other way round: I feel better and have more fun when I do the things it wants to prevent. I experience flow and satisfaction that comes with good work or a good run. This resistance is not seducing me into having more fun and well-being, it’s just being a start-blocker intent on stifling anything productive.
So how do we know if it’s a genuine part of us voicing concerns or resistance, impersonating self-love? We start anyway. We say ‘I will do this for 15 min. Even when I am tired 15 min won’t hurt me. And then if I find I really can’t concentrate and it really feels awful I can rest instead.’
Don’t attribute to malice what you can attribute to business or incompetence.
Thanks for the reminder Tim. Malice is tied to someone’s personality when more often than not it’s the situation or lack of skills which causes problems.
As a new member of a fiction writing group I was baffled at all the restrictions they put on the short story format. It wasn’t just a short story but each piece of writing had to focus mainly on one protagonist who changes in some way, it had to start in the middle, no long back story and so on. Many people, me included, complained that this would restrict our creativity and produce very similar stories. It didn’t. The leaders were experienced enough to know that freedom does not come from being allowed to do whatever you want because that led people to repeat the same thing over and over again. By introducing different restrictions each month you had to experiment and dare to do things you normally wouldn’t do. You were forced to grow in a way that you are not when everything is always the way you want it to be. Freedom is important but sometimes we have to voluntarily limit it to get the results we want.
Acceptance seems to be high-minded, something you can use if you are mature but yet not exactly worthy of mainstream attention. In a time when we’re after convenience it’s baffling that learning acceptance is not more widely practiced. Regardless of whether it’s high-minded or not, acceptance brings ease into life.
We can learn a lot about success if we look at successful people. There’s the temptation to look at their experiences and then copy what they did. After all it worked for them. When people do this they often try to copy the few things which supposedly helped the successful person break through: try to meet a famous person or do some one-off creative stunt. Yet these life-turning events and happy accidents would usually not have happened without the work that these people put in. Copy and modify habits instead of life happenstances. What makes someone continuously successful is a mixture between skills and putting the work in. The randomness by which someone discovers you can only come if you have created something worth discovering.
Some resources we have only sparingly such as willpower. It’s depletable which means we have to think how we spend it. If we’re surrounded by people with whom we can’t show our true feelings and emotions we won’t have much willpower left to do other things. If we’re constantly battling at work or resisting lots of temptations we are draining ourselves. So think about where in your life you absolutely need willpower and where you could change who or what you expose yourself to.
When we don’t see or talk to a person very often we place a lot of value on one meeting or one phone call. When they are happy we assume they are generally happy. If they are sad we think that things are not going well for them. Let’s keep in mind that on the day that we spoke to this person they may have felt many emotions. It could have very little to do with how they are feeling in general.
We hate boredom but we want to control the outcome of everything we do. We can’t win: either we succeed at controlling everything, which means we know exactly how things turn out which will be boring. Or we don’t succeed, in which case we are not bored but anxious because things are not going according to plan.
Instead let’s isolate the few things for which control is necessary and ease up on everything else. Or if letting go of control is a no-go well then befriend boredom.
One of the most common criticisms people have about anything is that it contains nothing new. There are 118 elements that make up the known universe. We don’t complain that nature has not invented any new elements. Similarly you don’t need new notes to make interesting music. 88 piano keys is enough to capture anything you want.
We don’t have to pursue new. Just because something is not new doesn’t mean it’s worthless. The value comes from combinations, both fresh and timeless.
Happy 2016 to all of you.
Information was once prized. It was what separated the powerful from the rest. Not anymore. If information were the answer we would have figured out everything by now. Information can be many things: entertainment, distraction, procrastination or qualification. Yet it’s an unformed lump of clay if we don’t know what to do with it, how to apply it to our own life and when we have enough information. It’s usually not lack of information that stops us. It’s lack of understanding, lack of motivation, customization or courage. More often than not it’s our feelings that stop us. So we should focus more on them than on information.