“Setting the bar too high.”
“Setting stretch goals with the knowledge that coming up short will be the norm.”
…are symptoms of forward-looking assessment of progress. Assessing progress by looking forward is a grievous error. “What have I accomplished?” is only measurable by looking back at what has been accomplished. This error is one of my big problems—I’d even say it’s my #2 problem. I’m working on it by practicing looking back to assess progress. :) My instinct and habit though is to look forward. Thus, more practice is needed to make looking back the default.
What have I accomplished?
What is the affect of what I have done?
How far have I moved?
How much have I learned?
Such questions can only be answered by considering the change between two points in my past.
The hard part—at least for me—is to keep out the “I wanted.” “I accomplished that much, but I wanted to accomplish [insert goal here],” creeps in through the open door of assessment.
By shifting my eyes just a bit to my left, I can see my personal oath which is stuck next to my monitor. There are a few phrases in it which are specifically meant to help me keep, “but I wanted to…” firmly locked outside.
I experimented by letting go of goals for a while and just going with the flow, but that produced even worse results. I know some people are fans of that style, but it hasn’t worked well for me. I make much better progress — and I’m generally happier and more fulfilled — when I wield greater conscious control over the direction of my life.
~ Steve Pavlina
“Letting go” of my structures and goals is good for short-term health. I do this when I’m traveling, or when something unusual happens, (such as having a house guest for a weekend.) Letting go enables me to see if my default habits have changed, as I’m often working on some goal or project that involves habit change. Letting go creates space for serendipity.
But letting go does not get things done. My mind is meant to have ideas, not to hold them. Systems (a grocery list, a todo list, plans for projects, and so on) are how my mind creates the changes I want to see in the world.
Letting go certainly recharges me. It’s the restorative yin to my personality’s default yan.
No matter where your adventure takes you, most of what is truly meaningful is still to be found revolving around the mundane stuff you did before you embarked on your adventure. The stuff that’ll be still be going on long after you and I are both dead, long after our contribution to the world is forgotten.But often, one needs to have that big adventure before truly appreciating this. Going full circle. Exactly.
~ Hugh MacLeod
I like this idea because it means that today, things are as bad as it can get.
I’m already super-busy, super-stressed, super-anxious, super-self-critical and super-distracted. I’m pretty sure that finishing another project—just. one. more!—is not going to magically fulfill me. Somehow this lesson is easy to understand but hard to know… hard to integrate.
But “scale”? That’s something I really understand. I understand what happens with something that can scale, and something that cannot scale. So if humans—i.e., me—don’t scale, why do I keep trying to make me scale?
The thing I care the most about: what do you do when no one is looking, what do you make when it’s not an immediate part of your job… how many push ups do you do, just because you can?
~ Seth Godin
Stumbled over this 8-year-old post from Seth. It’s suprisingly apropos—confirmation bias in action I suppose—of a conversation I just had.
There are two ways I can go with my thoughts on this: It turns out that I do a lot push-ups, (and other things, “Hello, Art du Déplacement,”) just because I can. But I think there’s a more interesting thread I can pull from this serendipity.
I don’t trust inspiration. I don’t trust it to show up, let alone motivate me. If something inspires me, I channel that energy to envision the path which could make the inspiring idea into some reality. I use moments of inspiration to propel me into doing the hard work of figuring out the next possible step. …and the step after that. …and after that.
The rest of the time—most of the time in fact—all I’m doing is working my systems. A bit of this, a bit of that, some of this, and some of that.
Theoretically, if you know what you love, then every time you make a decision you’ll have a pretty damn clear idea if it’s taking you closer or further away from what you love. You’ll know the right thing to do. So self-love is a moral issue. It consists of doing the right thing, and nothing else.
~ David Cain
If you put it that way, that would me that all of my problems are my responsibility. There is, after all, nothing in my power beyond my reasoned choices.
(Part 73 of 74 in My Journey)
I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were.
~ Joan Didion
I have no idea who my 16-or-so-year-old self was. I recently found myself telling a long sequence of stories from that era. Who was that person? What were they thinking? …I have no idea.
And I don’t mean that looking at the facts, things don’t make sense. As in, “why would someone do that, in that situation.”
I mean: I have no recollection of what it felt like to be that person. That person—those experiences—don’t even feel real. It’s like there’s not even the least certainty that those memories aren’t just something loaded into my brain before it was booted up a few years ago.
Going back ten years—maaaybe 15 at most—I feel like that is still me. It’s like there’s a horizon and once an experience disappears over the horizon, all that’s left is a story.
The power going out in my apartment was refreshing for that few moments only because I knew it was coming back. There was never any question about that. It’s incredible, the confidence I have in the power coming back on. I have more confidence in the power coming back on than I do in my promise to myself to go running three mornings a week.
~ David Cain
Wow, that truth stings.
Even from a seemingly unempowered starting point — a budget apartment in some forgettable corner of a society that has been designed to make you sick and impotent — these traits will do more for you than any “Anti” stance you can think of. Hating the system is a favorite American pastime. It feels good, is difficult to stop once you start, and gets you precisely nowhere, not unlike eating Doritos. This is not us against them, it’s us for us.
~ David Cain
I don’t know about you. But it is definitely “me against me.” Not in the sense, “I need to conquer myself,” but in the sense, “I need to stop defeating myself.” What’s that old adage? …be kind for everyone you encounter is fighting a great battle? I need to learn that lesson, and I need to remember that the person I most often encounter is me.
You get the job because you walk into the editor’s office and go, “Hi, I’m the best frickin’ sports writer on the planet.” And somehow the editor can tell you aren’t lying, either.
~ Jason Korman
It’s critical that you realize this works. It’s even more critical that you notice the “aren’t lying” caveat.
I’ve never liked the mantra, “fake it ’til you make it.” Don’t fake it! Just start working and start asking questions.
My favorite question is, “what would world-class look like?”
We forget that what we have is more than what we need. Obscenely more. I know it may sound perverse, but here in the future people often feel like they need more than they have.
~ David Cain
There’s a sense of accomplishment in being prepared to sleep on the floor when traveling. There’s a sense of freedom in being able to carry a small backpack and live comfortably. I always knew this was at least partly due to knowing that I was prepared enough for important contingencies and free enough to roll with whatever comes up during the day.
But now I see that there’s a second dimension to why I enjoy it: The self-imposed hardship. Sometimes the floor is cold and drafty, sometimes there’s a cat (I’m allergic to cats), sometimes everyone stays up very late (I usually turn in around 9:30), sometimes I miss a meal, sometimes I don’t sleep much if there’s too much light, sometimes it’s noisy, … and so on. Still, I am invariably in a better mood than usual the morning after each of these choose-your-own-adventures-gone-bad. Cold, stiff, sneezy, tired … sure. But in a good mood. Well, that’s very interesting, now isn’t it?
I’m not making a call for you to take up Parkour-flooring. I’m only pointing out that when I occassionally reset my callibration by intentionally taking on some suffering, I’m invariably happier after.