Post-Thanksgiving Brain Reboot

I had a very relaxed Thanksgiving weekend with family and friends, filled with cooking and eating and not doing anything at all. Today, I’m finding I need recovery time to myself, though I’d like to shorten this period as much as possible. Theoretically, I believe that I need to reconnect my mind and body with a sense of purpose to enact some kind of action. Right now it feels like everything is disconnected from each other.

Part of this is probably caused by both the sheer number of projects that are active, and also are entirely up to me to schedule and prioritize. Being disconnected from a sense of overall mission seems to have robbed me of the ability to self-motivate. It’s like there is a fog obscuring my vision of future reward. I am stuck in the blandness of the Right Now.

There are a number of small rituals I can perform. The first was just to get out of the house and get away from the Internet. The Internet is filled with distractions that ultimately go nowhere, empty inspiration courtesy of stories about other people who are doing great things. What is ultimately important to ME is that I am also doing interesting things instead of just reading about them.

I’m now at my favorite table at Starbucks. I just finished taking some pictures of the 2012 Compact Calendar. I’ll process them later and stick them into the new 2012 post later. Now I’m looking for the NEXT THING to do…

The second ritual I can do is to write a small story about what I want to become. For that to happen, though, I need an idea to anchor the story. Which brings up the third ritual: checking my Wunderlist for project lists to see what strikes me.

I found a few things that I could take care of immediately: scheduling a geek lunch, checking off a few old to-do items. The feeling of accomplish grew slightly, creating the slightest hint of momentum. This in turn got my mind moving again, asking myself the question What Can I Do to Make Some Stuff Happen for Myself? Feedback, in other words. Some proof that I’m moving, and also moving toward a goal.

This reminded me of my so-called “Status Guide”, which is taped to the inside of my black notebook. I want to be a maker of things, and also a writer/designer/analyst. A thought that pops into my mind right now is that the mastery of the processes that propel one toward a status goal is like the mastery of a thousand small recipes. How to write a good sentence. How to write a good paragraph builds on that. The ability to recognize an idea and illuminate a pattern is another small recipe. How to style a line of text in CSS starts to take on the presentation aspects of writing. And so on. Most of the time, these are maddeningly disorganized when one is trying to learn.

Now I’m thinking about a fourth ritual, which is creating complete collections of items. Identifying the collection is important, because it gives you something that you can bring to closure. The impulse to bring something to closure is a powerful force for some people.

So let me revisit what I was taking about before.

  • Get Away from Distraction before it can Get You
  • Pick up where you were in your own story
  • Remember who you are as a character: your goals and motivations
  • Identify the collection of things you must complete
  • Identify, collect, and connect the dozens of small recipes that lead to mastery

I seem to have distilled the Hero’s Journey by accident. If this is the case, then I also need to add things like:

  • Gather your companions and comrades
  • Identify the short term challenges and focus on cracking it
  • Gather the lore of the land
  • Take the pace to the challenge as you can
  • Surf the chaos of change and stay above it

So let me bring myself back down to the details. Where am I in my story? I’m in the part when I’m mastering and discovering myself. I’ve had a few experiences with success, but haven’t really engaged on the world stage yet. And the hints of greater challenges are starting to make themselves known. If I’m going to become the kind of magician-bard that I imagine myself, then I have to hole up in a town somewhere and build some resources. The collection of artifacts:

  • The Home Base – This is my Website, which is both outlet and recruitment center
  • Collections of Existing Lore – The stuff I’ve designed for productivity, ready to deploy to my comrades
  • The Game Changer – The digital products I need to develop
  • The Supply Lines – Ways of making money to survive and buy what I need to equip

Specifically, I can see that my next bit of stuff to do is:

  • 4×6 Stickies Design
  • 2012 Compact Calendar Release

I look at these and wonder how long they’ll take. That seems foggy to me, but I can invoke the project manager ritual and ASSIGN times. I know, for example, that 4×6 stickes design is unlikely to take more than 24 hours of time. 12 Hours? Maybe. 8 hours? Quite possible. 4 hours? That seems about right, but I would expect maybe 6 hours total with additional tweaking. And what does that really entail? That’s just designing it, then posting it. I imagine there will also be a few calendar days, from a week to two weeks, of audience feedback. So that project now can be broken down as follows:

  1. 4×6 Stickies Design – 6 hours to design and post
  2. 4×6 Stickies Design Feedback – 5 days of feedback
  3. 4×6 Stickies Design Printing – NEW PROJECT

And as for the 2012 Compact Calendar Release

  1. Process Photos – 2 hours
  2. Record Video – 2 hours
  3. Write Blog Post Blurb
  4. Digital Variations – NEW PROJECTS

These contribute to the COLLECTION OF PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS, that contribute to the overall goal of being a creator of original goods and ideas, part of the story I am writing about myself.

The rest of the fog comes from what client works to prioritize on this week. There is one main one, and I’m not exactly sure what will be entailed. So, I will merely assign a block of time for today: 15 minutes to start this evening and tomorrow morning to prime the day for 2-4 hours of additional work. I know once I get going, I’ll have a better idea of what I’m facing. This novelty about this approach to me is that I tend to get anxious about not knowing EXACTLY how something will play out. Becoming comfortable with uncertainty, and learning to dispell it, is one of the major themes of 2011.