December 12   On changing one big thing

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A few Saturdays ago now (how does time do that? Seriously, I blink and suddenly it’s December and my baby is kinda walking), I spent a night alone in a hotel. To relax. And spend time aloooone. It was very surreal – I had lunch in the city with friends and we tried out a new high tea place. It was fine. The highlight was catching up with them for two+ hours and hearing how everyone was doing. And getting lots of tips and recs for things! After tea, I headed off to my hotel to hang out by myself. It was odd. I popped out once to grab coffee and a muffin (Perth CBD is not really awesome if you want coffee at 3.15 FYI) and a second time to grab dinner (9Marys – the eggplant curry was delish). But otherwise, I holed up in my room.

It was the very first night I’ve spent apart from the baby. Ever. I packed five different craft projects. And downloaded latest episodes of several of my favourite podcasts. I made sure I had work and reading on my laptop. I settled in for Me Time. And I had a really great time. It’s been ages since I could catch up on podcasts and I finally got to listen to the final episode of my all time favourite Cast On by Brenda Dayne. It’s a knitting podcast and my example of one of the best ways to priduce a single host podcast. It’s been nine years now, and Brenda feels her project is complete and it’s time to move on to others. It was a really sad podcast for me, what will I do without the dulcet tones of Brenda Dayne to soothe in my hardest of days? I’ve listened to her to quell panic attacks in LAX and on public transport during my hardest of anxiety days back in the very dark early 2000s. She’s made hours and hours of my long commutes not only bearable, but fun. I’ve listened to her regale Today’s Sweater and traditional dyeing and spinning methods in Wales and her gardening escapades. Who will tell me now that if it’s cold, I should put on a sweater, that’s what their for??? I admit I shed a tear or two. I shall miss her dearly. I spent the hour or so sewing on a new project I dug out during my craft room clear out and declutter. More on that hopefully soon!

After the final ever episode of Cast On. I listened to the first, or close to first, episode of new podcast I found on GTD – GTD Virtual Study Group. I’ve listened to probably all or at least most of the podcasts available on David Allen’s website (and have a membership to Connect because I am deeply deeply embedded within the cult) and I just wanted something new/more. This podcast is a recorded group phone call and it looks like different members take turns presenting the session. The first episode of is titled “Tackling Immunity to Change” and I liked the sound of it because maybe that’s what my problem is in not getting any of my 2013 To Do List done. Well, maybe that’s what part of the problem is? Obviously the other part was that they weren’t written as achievable goals that lent themselves to easily broken down parts for action.

This episode drew on two books that basically address why you have a stumbling block to achieving change. the presenter asked you to pick just one Big Thing you want to work on about yourself. Then she talked you through the process of breaking down why it is that you aren’t whatever the opposite is – so, say you picked “Be a better listener”, then why aren’t you a good listener? I picked wanting to be better at GTD, or having GTD at cruise control, mostly because, well, why am I listening to this podcast otherwise?

The process involved soul searching to figure out what it was that you most fear about doing the thing that you are resisting (ie want to change) and what would be the Dire Consequence if that thing you feared happened. This was such an interesting process. As I worked through it, I uncovered that I think my worst fear is of missing an idea. Or missing a great idea. So in the case of my GTD practice, for “stuff” that is yet unprocessed – undealt with emails, items in my in tray, jobs left to start, even – there is still the possibility of my not missing a hidden idea. Once I’ve done the capturing process I could have missed something and lost it forever. That is my fear. And I guess extrapolating from that, doing something, or choosing a path, automatically cancels out the other option/s. And what if they were better/right/correct? Drilling down into that to find the Dire Consequence, I think, that’s missing or wasting an opportunity, or a chance to do something or making an irretrievable mistake. Or that the idea will be too hard for me to nut out how to solve/execute it.

What you then were required to do is to point out to yourself, in your daily life going forward, every time this Dire Consequence is proved false, that it’s a false consequence. So, for example, if your fear is that asking for help will make you look weak or stupid, notice how many times after you ask for help, people are willing or actually want to help you and how they don’t think you are stupid. In my case, I began to process my “stuff” and as I moved further through my in tray, I discovered that actually I come up with the same idea several times. I’ll leave myself the same idea on different pieces of paper or I’ll write very similar notes/conclusions about thoughts (I’ll wrote the exact same Resolutions To Do List two years apart). That actually, I step through the same thought process more than one time. Meaning, it’s ok if I miss an idea. I’ll probably catch it the next time through i.e. FILE that piece of paper as reference, trust I captured all I needed to from it for my Actions To Do List and MOVE ON WITH MY LIFE. The standing paralysed by fear of missing anything is self fulfilling. If I don’t do anything about something, I will definitely miss/waste the opportunity. Something only done 80% as well as I think I can do it is better than not at all (and still an A+). And funnily enough, I often say that sometimes there is no right or wrong decision or choice, you just choose one and move forward. My own rhetoric proves the false consequence.

It was a very interesting hour, in any case. I’m still not at GTD cruise control and in fact all my lists I was making at the time are currently sitting in my in tray waiting for processing. But this idea of missing/wasting has been an interesting one to dissect. I think it’s why I read so slowly so I’ve been challenging myself to let go the idea that I need to memorise books as I read them. That it’s okay if I miss some vague description or a bit of the subplot or whatever. And I’ve been trying to put things away after I finish working with them for the day – be that PhD materials or craft supplies – because I don’t need to leave things out to remind myself I am working on them. The False Dire Consequence is that I will forget what I was working on and never come back and finish it. But actually, an ordered life where everything is where you need to find it when you go looking makes for a much happier and productive life. Who knew??

I think the same reason is why I fear the weekly review. That doing a review of all my projects and what I need to do next on them draws a line under them and I might miss things. Or it requires you to trawl through reference material for projects and with the fear of missing something I think this means doing it from first principles every week. Or if I don’t do it this thoroughly every time, that I might be missing ideas. Or that these will be the only ideas I ever have. Well, that and that it would take all day because I have so many projects going that I like to believe I am currently working on. I’ll work on that later.

Not long after doing this podcast workshop, I was in my counselling session and we were talking through why I try to do so many things. I had also recently listened to another episode of the same podcast where Leo Babauta (The Zen Habits guy) had been talking about how you should just pick the 5 things most important to you in life and work on those and anything that didn’t make that list you should quietly ease out of your life because they aren’t a priority. This gave me quite a panic because my list is probably 50 things and they are all a priority! So my counsellor was all “let’s unpack that” and we discussed why I feel such an urgency to do so many things. And really all I could keep coming back to is that I don’t/can’t waste time and I have a fear of wasting time and I have so much that I want to get done.

I think in part, a characteristic I have long worked on is “to strive to be better” but the thing about striving for something is that you never get there – which makes sense when you want to be sure you push yourself to achieve beyond what you believe you can do or to contribute to improve, be better, be more than. All good things. But the problem is, that means you never achieve, or you never feel happy when you achieve. And it falls into the “you can never be too rich or too thin” etc. Can you ever be happy? Can you ever feel that you deserve to enjoy your wins?

All open ended thoughts because I didn’t come to any real conclusions in that session other than maybe I am in a bit of an existential crisis of sorts. Questioning what my personal meaning of life is. But at least the conclusions I have taken away so far are not to be afraid of missing ideas. I have plenty and sometimes the same ones over and over :) It’s okay to let them go. And that’s something. I guess?

firstcoffeeToday’s drink: San Guillermo Costa Rica by Five Senses

Today’s total word count: 2184

Year Total running word tally from (Nov 24): 13 387

Progress on: writing, running, knitting projects

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  • By Ju on 12 December 2014 at 3:03 pm

    What an awesome realisation and something pretty huge to move through! Re the other stuff that’s more open ended, wishing you clarity in moving through that too.

  • By AlisaK on 12 December 2014 at 11:52 pm

    Thanks! I think the other stuff is possibly the point of life and I’m being unreasonable to think I’ll have it sorted by next Tuesday :P

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