I can look back in my life and I realize in many ways what I’ve really mastered was how to never quite get things done. I certainly have things I’ve constantly been interested in and occasionally it seems like I manage to accomplish some things I set out to do but more often I never “get to it” or leave whatever it was in some state of non-resolution. Procrastination? Sure, but often its more complicated. I know I’m hardly the only person that faces these challenges. And sometimes it isn’t always a bad thing. Over time I’ve realized a lot of thing are as much or more about the “journey” and not so much the destination.
Lately for whatever reason I’ve set myself about the challenge of getting that “completion rate” more on the higher end of the scale. So I’ve been doing some self reflection and good old fashion noodling about things in life.
If you are someone who always seems to be on top of your goals please spill the beans!! How are you getting that done. Me, some progress here and there, but big things remain allusive. Some things I’ve found challenging.
Procrastination. The more I look at that I see it an excuse for other factors that we’ve invented to not have to face what the real problems are. So sure, label me a champion procrastinator. I’ll own that. It doesn’t get me any closer to changes in behavior I’d like to make to check off those magical “did it!” boxes on my life list. So lets see if I can stream of consciousness ramble my way down a path of real reasons for inaction or ineffective action.
Reason #1 – Lack of realistic priorities – I have a lot of interests. I know more than a few folks I know tell me I have to many to ever get anywhere with any of them. I think exploring this has merit. I can see where I’ve bounced back and forth between things in a way that kept me from focusing enough on one thing to really make significant progress. I often have done a poor job trying to know how to prioritize things. Everything we do of any worth is going to take some combination of time, money and just plane focus. You can’d do everything at once or well. So as I look at things in my life I’m trying to apply a better priority system. I’ve finally realized many activities have certain dependencies. I don’t really fly R/C models any more. They require a place to fly them, a place to build them and a way to get them back and forth. Since I moved away from my home in Mesa, AZ back in the early 90’s I’ve never really had a way to meet those dependencies. I’ve had some half baked ideas to bridge some of those but currently real full return to R/C as a major activity has to be put on hold or I have redefine it in a manner where those dependencies are met. I did that briefly with indoor flying a few years back but the flying site, an old WWII navy hangar was lost to the club and the smaller one never seemed as fun to me. I might have changed what I flew there but found over time the parking where I live got so bad I wasn’t able to find a way to get there and back from my home. Something can be said about my art projects. No workshop really makes them difficult and the change on the community around those activities makes them no longer possible. So I need to put those activities on the shelf.
Reason #2 – Resources. I’ve dreamed of owning a plane for most of my life. I never have. It always seems like my financial situation made it risky at best. And yet I see folks with even worse finances manage to figure out how to get planes and regularly fly. So I’ve come to believe that I would have found a way to make it happen if it really was so important to me. I live in a pretty expensive but very limiting floating home that I could have moved from if I really wanted to. I’ll get to what maybe kept me from doing that a little later. But the net net is I am not as resource limited as I have tricked myself into believing. I’ve just tricked myself into thinking I am to escape having to make some difficult choices. So I’m looking everything on my “ideal life” list and using the trades I have to make to have those things something I’ve thought through to make sure I really am happy with the trade offs I’ve chosen. I remember reading something I do believe about life. You can have anything you want in life but not everything you want in life. I think too often I’ve tried for everything instead of the one thing I really want.
Reason #3 – Holding on too long – Somethings I loved once are just not in the cards for me in the future. I love old FIATS and have owned a few over the years. I used to imagine a large collection of them. Now I can see there just isn’t any likely future that has me with the time and circumstances to have a collection like that. I consciously parted with all my FIATs and Lancias when I moved to Houston. I have one Lancia and I’ve committed to keeping that and eventually restoring it. I’ve looked at what I have to “trade” to do that. But I realize there is no point to looking for other cars like that. For me the trades I need to make to have cars be more in my life just don’t fit in my current life. This extends to my brief activities related to racing cars. I’m just best to let me enjoy my past experiences but take anything related to cars off my table in the future. I need to do similar “house cleaning” with other things in my life. I also remember reading several quotes to the effect of you don’t own your possessions, you are owned by them! It is time for be to purge, both in terms of things and no longer relevant dreams.
Reason #4 – Other peoples opinions. I look back now and can almost point the second when someone put a thought in my ear about sometime I was doing being “stupid” or “wrong” and then later on me no longer doing that activity. Also times where I in one way or another let myself ruin good friendships because someone sad something about a common acquaintance that somehow “broke” what I came to think about them and in the end destroyed good friendships. All that should matter to me is what I think about the activities I choose to peruse, the relationships I choose to maintain and the manner I choose to live my life. I also need to be sensitive to have the same respect for people in my life to no have similar negative feedback to them about those things in their lives. On the other side I need to realize just because someone thinks I should be doing “x” because it is fun and something that seems to fit in my life I don’t have to do that if I don’t enjoy it. I can see times in my life where I did things I didn’t really enjoy and also see times where I coerced others to do things they didn’t really want to do.
Reason #5 – Discomfort. It is so easy to fall into the trap of comfortable, easy, inaction. That comfy sofa sure looks nicer than a much needed walk on a cold morning. Hmm, I could shop for healthy foods and make nice meals, but wait, there is a microwave meal right there. Man I wish I had my pilots license current but man, I have to find and AME, get my medical, now find a place to rent an airplane and hire an instructor. Need to study again. Where did I put my old flight bag and headset? Where is that log book. Gah, work, but just look at that couch, oh and a rerun of a favorite show is on the telly….. I really suffer from this. One one hand I really can get stuck in that old comfort zone even when that same comfortable place has become far less comfortable. That safe comfortable place is not always your friend.
A related issue is a gradual lack of situational awareness, lacking this is a serious problem a lot of people suffer from in their lives. In the extreme cases it gets you killed. Its the “running the red light” crash, its the driving into a river because you didn’t know how deep it was over a crossing and drowning. Or even more insidious are the slow ones that can creep into a relationship that beaks folks up, or the “blindside” job loss that looking back you can now see was coming because of changes in business/technologies/culture.
In my case I can see how I’ve become that boiled frog. When I moved to my current home, it was slightly cheaper than an equivalent apartment. Over time its become about 3X more expensive than even superior housing. When I first moved there I had plenty of parking for two cars. Several years ago I gave up on a second car there and now it is common for me not to be able to park anywhere near my home. Over time my inner hoarder has made a small living space fit for an episode of on of those hoarder shows. Add all these things together my social life has really suffered. I find myself in a situation that is now nearly overwhelming. I have let similar things happen health wise as well. I’ve gained weight and am in terrible shape. So I hit sort of a panic point and tried to make some large sweeping changes. This turned out to be a disaster. I withdrew and regressed. Now I’m trying to take it all in smaller steps. Every day I try to find a way to make smaller incremental changes so I know there is progress.
Reason #6 – I left this for last as I think it is the hardest to detect and change. I don’t think most folks that know me would call me shy. But actually I am more shy than most folks realize I am quick to warm up once I meet someone but very shy till I do get to know someone. So I find it extremely difficult to force myself into new social situations. This is something I know I am letting hold me back. I’ve lost most of my social circles over time since moving here. Music used to be a way for me to interact with people, also work was always some sort of social encounter. It’s been several years since work provided any social connections. Local music here has dried up. So I’m looking for avenues to expand my social circles. That is proving to be hard.
I also realize fear plays a part in other things I want to do. Is part of my slow progress on the pilots license front because of fear about what could happen? Not that I’d hurt myself but I fear I’d have turned out to have forgotten so much to nearly having to learn it all again. And that while a lot of places I’ve lived seemed to offer a wealth of places to set down if the old go machine stops turning $$$ into thrust. The Seattle area seems like an almost guarantied bad outcome if you lose a motor. Is any of that a reasonable set of things to fear, mostly not, but somehow it has found a home in my brain.
I even realize I’ve let similar irrational fears curtail my sailing. I broke a mast on my current sailboat when I first got it. I also have had years of horrible experiences with various outboard motors even once since I swapped to electric. Even though I know there isn’t any real worry, it does keep me from sailing as much as I could (add several near misses and seeing some serious collisions in our Duck Dodge sailboat races and I’ve let myself be put off sailing. Add the final nail to that imaginary coffin is I don’t really have anyone I enjoy sailing with regularly.
Other things I’m not doing because at some level I think I’m held back by fear. I know I blew at least one great job because I let previous experiences in a related job ruin my interview. I can see how I held back on a previous dating relationship because I was afraid of the real motivation of the person I was dating. As much self doubt as fear I suppose.
The kissing cousin of fear deserves a mention here as well. The idiotic need for perfection. This has held me back on so many fronts. Music. I love to play music and sing. And when I get over other blockers I find I do it well enough to enjoy myself and share that joy with others. I’ve thought about recording things at home. But the inner geek sneaks in and next thing I know the software I think I need is an excuse, what sort of recording device, do I do some sort of direct box, mic my amp……. bla bla bla. In the mean time many folks I know are producing you tube videos or even complete albums on gear I would never thought to try. My stupid idea that my first efforts have to be perfect mean that I never have my first efforts. I’m facing similar challenges with a book I’m writing. You know what the first step of being a successful writer is, most successful writers will share this if you really ask them, its to first write something. I’ve never found a writer I liked that hadn’t started writing yet. I’ve also come to realize that I read a lot of things and hear a lot of things where I KNOW I am capable of better than that. But until I break down that wall and actually give it a try I’ll never know. I think it was Woody Allan that said most of success is showing up in the first place. There is truth in there. So I need to get over having to have it just right and just do it.
One final thing about fear, I believe this even though I sometimes am not living by it. If you are not if real physical peril you really have nothing to be afraid of. The worst that can happen is never as bad as you think it could be but not trying absolutely means you fail.
- Stop using resources as an excuse
- Let stuff go and move on if its time
- Stop being driven by what other people think
- Get out of my comfort zone more often
- Stop letting fear hold me back and be OK with not being perfect
Will I manage any of that? I hope so. All I can do is try. And I’m trying to do this as an ongoing process, not a gigantic life change.
If you made it to the end of this, wow, thanks for reading, chase me down, I’l buy you a beverages and you can tell me how you get anything accomplished on your life!
We’ll call it a day, till its the next one! Spacegrrrl exits in a flash