Monday, January 18, 2010

Why is it so hard to get started?

Another full week and a bit and I didn’t get a post done on Saturday -- The good news is that I’ve already posted as many times in 2010 as I did for the entire year last year. (In looking at my archive bar I see this pattern of posts (2006 – 103; 2007 – 34; 2008 – 15 ; 2009 – 2) so I suppose it wasn’t much of a challenge to exceed my 2009 output – we’ll see were it ends up)

Back in July 2006 I posted a blog Living by the Nike Creed where I talked about my tendency to put off starting projects and challenged myself to follow the Nike slogan “Just do it?”.

I’m finding that my commitment to “breaking the cognitive egg” seems to be keep getting sidetracked by life and I ask myself ‘why is it so difficult to get started?’ (which I would measure by being able to point to concrete specific actions I have taken beyond just “thinking about it” and writing weird posts about techniques of cracking eggs :)

So ‘Why is it so difficult to get started (make visible progress)?

One answer is that last week was a very full week. Monday I spent trying to get organized. Making lists (and lists of lists) about what needed to be done and picking up materials for the Tuesday work day at the church building. Wednesday through Friday was fully occupied with family events related to my Dad’s 93rd birthday. We had family here for lunch & supper both Wednesday & Thursday and lunch Friday and then a big family dinner at the North 82 restaurant on Friday night.

Saturday a.m. was tied up in a church planning meeting and the p.m. was a little quieter. I spent most of Saturday afternoon working through and cleaning up a years worth of backlog in my email inbox (well I cleared out January and February 2009 and worked back through December) and took care of a few long standing small projects. Saturday evening we attended an 85th birthday celebration for one of our neighbors. With all that activity, I didn’t spend much time on my journal thinking about the “big question”.

Another answer is that it is tough getting started on something new when there are several important things that need to be cleaned up before I add something else to the list.

One of the disciplines (habits) that I have been focused on developing in my living for several years is based on the asking these 2 questions

“What would you be doing today if it was your last day?

And what would you be doing today if it was your first day?”

and then doing (at least 1) thing from each of the answers during the day. (Interestingly I heard Ravi Zacharias state this principle in a slightly different way in a radio sermon last evening – He said “Treat your body as if it will be here forever and treat your soul as if this will be your last day).

Those daily choices have been shaped by a fairly consistent process of starting each month and then each week by listing the 3 most important things I need to get done that week (over and above the routines of daily living) and last week the 3 important things didn’t include a specific goal for my “egg cracking project”.

A 3rd possible answer is that I’m doing OK with getting this project started – after all this is a pretty huge ball of string to unravel and just because I haven’t found the a long piece to unwind and the pile of unraveled pieces is quite small doesn’t mean that I haven’t been making reasonable progress.

Maybe it’s just a rationalization and denial of my inability to figure out how to jumpstart this project but I choose to accept this answer.

I did identify what I think are 4 key “success factors” (things I need to overcome – or to push the metaphor parts of the egg I have to crack) to improve the health and strength of my relationships.

1. I have an (obsessive) need for approval. When others disagree I often feel disliked and unworthy.

Rather than dealing with the discomfort of disagreement and sticking with the discussion, I can become angry or I may just concede and bury the frustration(which can erupt like a volcano later unexpectedly and at someone else on a completely different topic)

2 I want to be right – to be the one that has all the answers.
This leads to all types of dysfunctional behavior when I’m asked a question that I really don’t want to deal with or which seems to challenge my “authoritative” status.

3. I feel ashamed, and inadequate when I make a mistake.

This leads to anger and denial.
4. I feel responsible for what others do – I want to "fix" them.

This leads to efforts to control others, disrespect for their boundaries and anger when they don’t conform.

These limitations and my reactions to them are toxic (like a cancer) that can, at worst, eat away at and destroy a relationship and at best, limit the number of mature, healthy and fulfilling close relationships that I can sustain.

While these are only words, they do provide a framework for the egg cracking exercise – and for this week my “slogan” is (taken again from an advertisement) “Let’s get cracking”

God Bless

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