Less Annoyed, More Productive?
One thing I noticed since identifying my Scrooge-like relationship with time is that I’ve stopped reacting negatively to thoughts of work. This is unexpected; I had thought I would have to be much more proactive in changing my attitude for the better.
I think what’s happened is that I’ve depersonalized my attitude toward tasks that I formerly classified as ANNOYING, INCONVENIENT, and FRUSTRATING. It’s sort of like the idea of finding the true name of a demon, which in certain fictional fantasy worlds is one way to gain power over them. Having named the demon of Spite Toward Non-Optimal Time, I find that its power has diminished. The result is that I feel a lot more relaxed and less irked by the spectre of future chores that haunt the twisty road between where I am today and where I want to be tomorrow.
I am rather surprised by this turn of events, but it makes sense in hindsight. A long time ago a friend of mine loaned me a book called The Four Agreements, of which one of them was the idea of not taking things personally. I had understood this in the context of other people and their expectations, but the same thing applies to the work you have to do. I had been taking my task list more personally than I knew. They’re just tasks, to be done or not done. Why get annoyed and generate negative energy? Which relates to more recent thoughts about how my attitude affects personal progress; it all seems to be part of the same continuum.
Practically speaking, the principle at work here is to not allow my negative off-the-cuff reactions develop into an attitude-destroying emotional reaction. What prevents this from happening, once the awareness is there, is that I have certain personal strengths I can depend on. In this case, I know the following:
I won’t literally DIE, right? If there’s a sense of emotional urgency, I can just take that as a warning that something as-yet-unknown is bothering me, and it’s time to shift into investigative mode: *why do I feel this? what should I do about it? why will that work?” This usually shakes me out of whining mode and into problem solving mode.
I have the skills and resources to deal with challenges, and I can develop new ones. I’ve been alive long enough to havve figured out a few things that work for me. I can delegate the task, dump it completely, move the goal posts, or renegotiate. I can ask my friends for advice. Worst case is that I lose some money or make some kind of sacrifice, but then it’s over with. For the vast majority of project challenges, there is a definable solution and a definable end point, and then life goes on.
That second bullet point has taken a long time to develop; I didn’t have it in my 20s and early 30s. If you have a good group of friends, and/or have some great mentors or role models, I think that helps see one through. I have been blessed all my life with great friends who gave a crap about what I was trying to figure out, even when it didn’t make sense. In the absence of having that resource, the next best thing is to recognize that no one is more expert about your dreams than yourself. People may have good ideas or strong opinions about what you should do and how you should go about doing it, but it’s ultimately up to you to decide and embrace what may come through your own action. The only pre-requisites, I think, are (1) you are willing to take responsibility for what happens and (2) you are committed to make the next move, over and over again, to keep moving your dream forward. HOW you do that is your own business. You OWN it. It’s up to you to DISCERN and REACT in the ways that meet your criteria for success.