On starting before you're ready

When I first got the idea to restart the blogging, my first thought was: “No, don’t start this Monday, start next Monday.” It felt like the safe option: give myself time to scope out other blogging tools, come up with a list of topics,develop a workflow, etc.

Start

And then the second, more challenging voice of The Coach came in: “Why wait? Start tomorrow. Just get started. If you wait till you’re ready, you’ll never be ready.” And I knew that starting before I felt I was ready was the wiser course.

Now, were I starting a military campaign or PR blitz, yes, sure, plan to the nth degree and get your ducks in a row, etc. But for a personal project like this, starting before I was ready meant I had to eschew the perfectionism, set up some quick ground rules to prevent myself from putting up higher and higher barriers (I’ve now reduced my first draft writing time to 15 minutes to inspire faster writing and shorter drafts), and just dive in.

My banjo teacher, who is also a spiritual teacher, said one time that “The perfection is in the doing.” It’s so easy for me to forget that, to get hung up on the result or the desired outcome before I’ve taken a single step.

One of the great teachings of Constructive Living for me was that you cannot control the results, you can only control your behavior. So starting – and starting imperfectly – is better than not starting. Starting is in your control. Once I started, I discovered in the doing several little tricks that would not have occurred to me had I relied only on planning. And even if I had planned everything to a faretheewell, I’d have had to adjust my plan based on what I discovered as I was doing. So the better course of action was to fire-ready-aim-fire.

So start the diet today, start exercising today, start writing today. Starting – and starting again fresh tomorrow – is always in your control.

 

 

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Daily Message ~ Tuesday July 31, 2012

Many people would like to change their lives and begin living more authentically but they don’t know where to start. All that is required is heartfelt gratitude for what you would like more of in your life, and heartfelt surrender of the rest. This is the formula to shift any situation into forward movement and empowered change. ~Archangel Gabriel


Daily Message ~ Tuesday July 31, 2012

On using timers and timeboxing

Mark Forster recommended the use of timers in his book Get Everything Done and Still Have Time to Play. It sort of starts with the idea of timeboxing, a demarcated bit of time within which you choose to work on a specific task. A teacher may set aside 45 minutes to grade papers, say, and then take a 15-minute break. The teacher has timeboxed that task for 45 minutes and included a break, since if she simply sat and plowed through all of the papers in a single setting her brain would curdle and the last papers in the pile would have less of her focus and attention than did the first papers.

Italiano: Autore: Francesco Cirillo rilasciata...

Forster recommended various ways to attack high-resistance tasks using a timer and timeboxing. One that I remember was to set a timer for 5 minutes with a one-minute break, then 10 minutes, then 15 minutes, etc. Focusing on the high-resistance task (or even a list of tasks) is easier when you agree with yourself to focus for only five minutes. Oftentimes that can be enough to get the ball rolling, and I find myself wanting to continue past the appointed time. It’s important, though, to STOP what you’re doing when the timer goes off. Your agreement with your mind is that you’ll only work when the timer is active and then you’ll take a break; your mind needs to know it can trust you. It’s how you can get it on your side.

Forster had several other patterns in his book (one of them was a 5-10-15-20-25-30-25-20-15-10-5 sequence), all with the intention to help you get through the initial chaos of a high-resistance project or task and to ease you into doing the work you need to get done. Also, in these seemingly small margins of time, you will actually accumulate several hours worth of work. Oftentimes, just getting started is the hardest thing, and little tricks like this can be tremendously useful for just that purpose.

In recent years, the Pomodoro Technique has held sway and it’s the one I tend to use the most often at home and at the office. It’s kind of boggling to imagine that the simple idea of a 25-minute timebox has spawned web sites, apps, blog posts, ebooks, etc. In the old days, that probably would have been 2 pages in a chapter of any decent time management book.

An interesting twist on the timebox is the decremental timebox system (hat tip to a poster at Mark Forster’s FV forum for the link). I’ve not used it much yet, but it’s a rather fascinating idea.

I use two timers. At the office, I use the Time Timer, which is nicely visual and utters a little beep at the end of a session. (If I’m away from my desk when the timer goes off, I prefer the timer not drone on loudly for several seconds, thereby annoying my cubemates.) At home, I use the Datexx Miracle Time Cube (which is a winner simply for the name alone). It only offers 5-15-30-60 minute intervals, but it’s dead easy to use and fun, which otherwise, why bother?

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Reboot at the OK Plateau

I have been inspired to restart blogging by, as usual, several seemingly random prompts that combusted in that imaginative furnace I am pleased to call my mind. The first was Shannon Wilkinson’s recent completion of 13 weeks of straight Monday-Friday blog posts. The challenge, of course, is in coming up with enough ideas to fill up that many posts. But I firmly believe that the more you write, the more you can write.

Another prompt was reading Joshua Foer’s Moonwalking with Einstein, particularly the chapter on becoming an expert by working past the “OK plateau.” The OK plateau is that level of skill whereby you get good enough results without improving your execution.

Foer’s example is that of typewriting. Most people’s typing speeds improve to a certain speed and then stay there. The patterns and movements are well-burned into the neurons so that they hardly have to “think” about typing anymore.

So, to type faster, the key is to move those unconscious skills up to the conscious level where they have to be examined, honed, improved, etc. This is exactly how my banjo teacher has instructed me to practice — set the metronome faster than I can play comfortably. The point is to get uncomfortable and stretch and confront your weak spots, which the faster speed highlights.

As far as blog posting — well, I’m not out to set any records.  But I would like to challenge myself, particularly on producing a lot of  writing. I always have a ton of little ideas, and one way to break the blog barrier is to write faster, shorter posts. Since I typically take a long time to write a post, this will be good exercise for me.

My plan is to write 50 Monday-Friday blog posts over the next 10 weeks (thanks for the M-F idea, Shannon!). This gives me the weekend to rest up, maybe write some posts in advance, and hone my writing and posting process. One reason I stopped blogging is because I couldn’t figure out a great workflow. I hope this exercise will help me use my software tools better.

And I have a few other reasons for wanting to write regularly. I will talk about them in later posts.

While we understand the energies of accelerated change can seem intimidating, what they really are is a wonderful opportunity to move very quickly into a much more empowered place. You do not need to be afraid of change, Dear Ones. It is change that can bring you healing, joy, love – all of the aspects that you wish to enjoy as you move forward in your life. Change only feels scary if you are living your life by accident. You are the captain of your life expression! Do not be afraid to take the wheel! You get to chart your course through your intention. You set things in motion by surrendering and allowing the flow to move you at the perfect speed. You stay on course by using gratitude as a tool to provide additional feedback to the universe. This system works, it is available to you right now, and it is the way to the life of your dreams. What are you waiting for? ~Archangel Gabriel

Libra Horoscope for week of July 26, 2012

Philosopher William Irwin Thompson says that we humans are like flies creeping along the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. We literally cannot see the splendor that surrounds us. As a result, we don’t live in reality. We’re lost in our habitual perceptions, blinded by our favorite illusions, and addicted to beliefs that hide the true nature of the universe. That’s the bad news, Libra. The good news is that every now and then, each of us slips into a grace period when it’s possible to experience at least some of the glory we’re normally cut off from. The veil opens, and previously undetected beauty appears. The weeks ahead will be the closest you’ve come to this breakthrough in a long time.

Libra Horoscope for week of July 5, 2012 Goldfish that are confined in small aquariums stay small. Those that spend their lives in ponds get much bigger. What can we conclude from these facts? The size and growth rate of goldfish are directly related to their environment. I’d like to suggest that a similar principle will apply to you Librans in the next ten months. If you want to take maximum advantage of your potential, you will be wise to put yourself in spacious situations that encourage you to expand. For an extra boost, surround yourself with broad-minded, uninhibited people who have worked hard to heal their wounds.

Stop stopping

Stop stopping. Stopping is the worst thing. Stopping breaks your momentum. Stopping is the start of decay and regression. When you choose to stop, you set yourself the task not only of getting back up to the same speed as before but also to the same altitude — the same level of Japanese. Taking a break from Japanese will hurt your Japanese. A lot. Each time you stop, you lengthen the road to fluency. When you stop, you quite literally become like Sisyphus: forever pushing the rock of your Japanese ability up the hill, only to have it roll down each time you pause. And just like Sisyphus, you have to retread the same ground to get back up where you were. Always restoring, never progressing; it’s a huge freaking waste of time.

Are You a Three-Day Monk? | AJATT | All Japanese All The Time

Basic things to keep in mind

What I’m setting up for myself to successfully train for the marathon uses the same principles I’ve followed for every other long-term project or big goal I’ve wanted to accomplish. It’s how I started my first business. It’s how I became a coach. It’s how I climbed Mt. Hood.

Here are the basic things to keep in mind:

  • Know your goal – understand why it really matters to you
  • Create and follow a plan – it doesn’t have to be elaborate, but knowing what you need to do really helps
  • Build a base at the beginning – keep it small and doable as you gain experience and build new habits
  • Intensify over time, as your skills improve – challenge yourself to steer clear of ruts
  • Cut yourself slack, you aren’t going to be able to do every single step perfectly – know that, be okay with it and keep going
  • Enlist the help of other people – don’t underestimate the power of having people in your corner

Training for a Real or Metaphorical Marathon | Perception Studios | Shannon Wilkinson, life coach & more

Be honest with yourself about how hard you’re willing to work. One thing I noticed as a trainer and as a professor is people want to achieve something, but aren’t willing to put in the effort to get there. They say they want to work hard but when you work them hard, they run. Don’t be the person who runs. The discipline it takes to do that is uncomfortable and unpleasant sometimes and you must be willing to enter that discomfort. Look at advanced degrees: two out of three people don’t complete their PhD. It’s punishing. I’ve cried because of the stress numerous times. Every day I have to reaffirm my efforts at my dissertation, at lifting, at personal relationships. But it’s so, so worth it in the end.

What you are aware of, you are in control of; what you are not aware of is in control of you. You are always a slave to what you’re not aware of. When you’re aware of it, you’re free from it. It’s still there, but you’re not affected by it. You’re not controlled by it; you’re not enslaved by it. That’s the difference. —Anthony deMello, from Awareness: the Perils and Opportunities of Reality

Consultant vs. contractor

Alan Weiss, of whom I am a groupie, just published a quote that rocks my world. The full article is in the June 2012 issue of Balancing Act.

If someone pays you for your wisdom and advice, you’re a consultant—a “brain.” If someone pays you for your work and delivery, you’re a subcontractor—a pair of hands. Both constitute legitimate and respected work, but the former can charge based on value delivered and the latter can charge only on time spent on the job.


Consultant vs. contractor

Lawrence Pearsall Jacks, a Unitarian minister, summed it up decades ago:

The master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his work and his play, his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing and leaves others to determine whether his is working or playing. To himself, he is always doing both.