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  • Commitment

    I had a light bulb moment yesterday which I thought I would share.

    I realised that I have agonised over some choices for so long that I have reached a fixed state of “analysis paralysis” that I have been mistaking for reality. I KNOW I will never read all the books I want to read, or visit all the countries I want to visit, or really get to know all the great composers …. or even get the spare room EXACTLY the way I want it; but I was still trying to read every time management book under the sun to find how to do it all.

    As a result, I do little or nothing of the above, and when I do, it amounts to little more than a series of sporadic false starts. Areas of my life are consequently vanishing in grey drizzle.

    Just after I wrote my Zen post yesterday, a solution occurred to me . Just make a choice! Pick one country, one author, one composer (one paint colour) and plunge in! There will never be enough time to get everything done. But this commitment to one thing in each category could keep me absorbed and entertained for years.

    In the tradition of Zen, I deduced that my indecision was coming between me and the way the world really is. I was connecting with nothing, because of this false assumption that there is some secret to getting it ALL done.

    I used to be afraid of turning away from the whole chocolate box - but now it seems like a damn good idea. Commitment to a course of action is relaxed by comparison to all that indecision.

    Dave

  • #2
    forgot to log on, that's me above.

    Dave

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    • #3
      Just when you need it life always provides a teaching

      Comment


      • #4
        This is really great to hear!

        I really admire your ability to let go of the fear of not being able to learn/ do it all. I also thought that I had to read every time managment book under the sun in order to be a jedi master in time management. I think letting go and just committing to a course of action allows you to see things alot more clearly and the subsequent choices you will make about other things will flow a lot more freely for you. You trust yourself. Even if the choices don't pan out, so what? Good for you!!

        As we say down under "Good on ya!"

        Comment


        • #5
          I really do think that manytimes the obsession with Time Management is an AVOIDANCE strategy from actually taking the action. (fear of uncertainty, failure, rejection, etc).

          We can all do "Behavioral Experiments".
          That is you pick ONE action, (Next Action perhaps?), and you DO IT, and then see what happens.

          To get more specific...we can...
          1) pick the Action/Behavior to do.
          2) set a specific Time to begin, hopefully NOW.
          3) brainstorm out all the possible problems that could be Obstacles
          4) figure out strategies to overcome the obstacles
          5) write up a progress report of how it went.

          That is a Cognitive strategy that will actually retrain our brain, by reflecting in written language on the Cognitive-Behavioral interaction. By REFLECTING on it with written language, we are actually TRANSFORMING how our brain is processing that information.

          I do believe we are "Free Agents" and our conscious choices do control our conscious behaviors, but sometimes we need to RETRAIN our brain.
          Last edited by CosmoGTD; 03-29-2006, 12:59 AM.

          Comment


          • #6
            This comes close to the idea of a "commitment list" I posted about recently in another thread on priorities. It's all about making choices (or gatekeeping), but of course this requires that (a) we can let go of things and (b) we have a realistic idea about what we can achieve in a certain amount of time.

            This reminds me of something else I read somewhere recently: people have a tendency to overestimate what they can get done in the short term and underestimate what they can achieve in the long run. So maybe just picking one composer/book and actually start listening/reading, and then go on to the next one, we may find that in the end we explored a lot more composers/books than we originally thought possible...

            Marc.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Commitment

              Originally posted by Busydave
              Just make a choice! Pick one country, one author, one composer (one paint colour) and plunge in! There will never be enough time to get everything done. But this commitment to one thing in each category could keep me absorbed and entertained for years.
              Dave,

              I still feel somewhat uncomfortable with the fact that the English word "commitment" has several meanings:

              1. the act of committing.
              2. the state of being committed.
              3. the act of committing, pledging, or engaging oneself.
              4. a pledge or promise; obligation.
              5. engagement; involvement.
              6. perpetration or commission, as of a crime.
              7. consignment, as to prison.
              8. confinement to a mental institution or hospital.
              9. an order, as by a court or judge, confining a person to a mental institution or hospital.
              10. Law.a written order of a court directing that someone be confined in prison; mittimus.
              11. Parl. Proc.the act of referring or entrusting to a committee for consideration.
              12. Stock Exchange.


              What bothers me is the discrepancy between
              4. a pledge or promise; obligation and
              5. engagement; involvement.

              Dave, I think you meant #5 (engagement) in your post, but did you make a promise to yourself (#4)?

              Though GTD is a lot about managing your commitments there is a difference in real life between #4 and #5 that can lead to emotional blocks. I presume D.A. writes about #4-commitments most of the time.

              Rainer

              Comment


              • #8
                Rainer

                I would say it is a decision. I have heard “decision” defined as cutting off all other available options. It’s the difference between not doing anything, and doing something. It is not necessarily a vow or a pledge.

                I am not a great chooser! I will stop at a choice for days, and keep all the options clearly in view. But then the pain of making no progress begins to hurt.

                In some cases, as I said I my first post, I can remain undecided for so long that the choosing point – the point where the paths diverge – becomes my permanent location.

                Breaking away from there – just choosing a path and starting to move again, feels like a commitment.

                My life is passing by, and I should be able to make every day interesting and productive. One of the big things slowing me down is my lack of willingness to make a decision.

                It is a commitment in that I have decided that a certain portion of my life - a day, a week, a year, is going to be spent on a PARTICULAR writer, or composer, or country. I have to learn to say “to hell with the lost opportunities to read every book in the world, and see every country in the world”. The REALITY is that there is not enough time in anyone’s life to take all the options. This is a hard reality to face, but now that I have, I am excited about my decision .

                Dave

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                • #9
                  fixed

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                  • #10
                    Cosmo

                    I love that kind of self monitoring. For about a second or two, while the procrastination excuse is forming in my head, I get a glimpse into the inner machinery of how my thoughts work. It’s like seeing blue through a very cloudy sky, just for a moment.

                    It is very effective. I found out for example that I have a terrible habit of deferring any task where the next action is communication, either face to face or by ‘phone. But I will take on any problem-solving task at a moment’s notice.

                    Someone told me that your career progress is limited to the level of your weakest skill – so I got to work on my communications blockage straight away. (Strangely enough, I have no fears about making presentations – just one on one situations).

                    This type of self observation showed me processes at work in my own mind that I had never really considered before. For example, in my case, when I deferred tasks that involved communication, I actually REALLY BELIEVED that they were then B or C tasks (to use prioritisation terminology), no matter how important the actual task might really be. My blindness to my communications weakness actually blinded me to the whole related task.

                    My “decision” to treat communication tasks as B or C items was actually made completely automatically. I don’t know if it where it happed was my subconscious, or else if I had developed a reflex reaction that by-passed conscious consideration of the task. But whatever it was, I had no CONSCIOUS part in the decision.

                    Just to show the wider effect, if I was reading though a general book on management skills, I would always glance over and largely ignore the section on communications, but I would carefully underline lots of the chapters on time management and planning.

                    The extent to which we can hide from our own weaknesses is very scary. I agree with DA about retraining, but it can be hard to spot where the retraining is needed.

                    Dave

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                    • #11
                      Busydave:

                      I recognise a lot about myself in what you describe:

                      I am not a great chooser! I will stop at a choice for days, and keep all the options clearly in view. But then the pain of making no progress begins to hurt.

                      In some cases, as I said I my first post, I can remain undecided for so long that the choosing point – the point where the paths diverge – becomes my permanent location.
                      I have problems choosing too, feeling that as soon as you make a choice / commit to a certain course of action, you eliminate (indeed cut off, to use the meaning of "decision") the other possibilities, which may feel scary. But in the end, I feel I may be avoiding choices out of habit, even if they are relatively trivial or without much consequence. But the final result is, because I'm afraid to miss out on some of the possibilities, I end up missing out on all of them, paralysed at the choosing point as you say.

                      I found out for example that I have a terrible habit of deferring any task where the next action is communication, either face to face or by ‘phone. But I will take on any problem-solving task at a moment’s notice.
                      For me too, this is in essence what holds me back, and I'm well aware of it. Anytime I have a call to make or to go and see a person, I put aside the task and do something else first. If I can do it via e-mail, then I'll do that, but in many situations this is not an efficient approach. I've noticed that it's easier to ask information if the person is sitting in the cubicle next to me. And like you, I don't mind making presentations, I actually enjoy that. Go figure...

                      Cosmo:

                      Perhaps it is related to PEOPLE and not tasks, as with people we can get rejection or disapproval, etc. And as socialized primates, there is nothing more painful and scary to us as the idea of social rejection, etc.
                      That's exactly what I think is behind it...

                      Marc.

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                      • #12
                        Coz

                        Where do you get to hear about all those excellent books you read?

                        I love Dr Beck’s idea that automatic thoughts create our emotions. I my case, I would readily agree with your suggestion that my problem is people based.

                        I have been at the receiving end of several management-by-intimidation situations in my earlier career. The tactic of more than one of my former bosses was to destabilise me by creating an atmosphere of doubt about what I had done. (There is a Hebrew phrase “The girl who can't dance says the band can't play", but I don’t think I was guilty of that).

                        Just for the record, one of those guys was booted out of the multi-national where I worked for him due to his poor overall performance, and the other failed in his business. The first guy turned out to have a severe gambling habit. His attacks on me were his way of making me go away so that he did not have to deal with his part of the work. Furthermore, it created situations whereby he could shift the blame to me when the finished product was not delivered on time.

                        Getting back to Dr Beck, I experience a particular emotion when a face to face task comes up. I experience an instantaneous conviction that it will go badly for me, and a sense of dread. It’s crazy – it might be the simplest business phone call, but that dark monster hovers in the shadows behind the conversation threatening an assault on me.

                        I’m sure is due to the reflexive conclusions that my mind reaches based on previous unpleasant experience.

                        I have occasionally tried a more macro approach to evaluating my behaviour. Firstly, I write down seven or eight things I want to do in a day. Then I project forward and try to imagine how bad I will feel going home if, through my own fault, I do not get them done. Then I challenge myself to defend why I would procrastinate on those tasks if I knew it was going to lead to such disappointment.

                        Although this does not give the pin point insights that the other method does, it does help to let a breath of realism blow through the procrastinating frame of mind that I might find myself in.

                        Sometimes I feel that each person’s procrastination is as unique as their own finger-print – it derives from their own individual life experience. Still, the standard categories can be a useful guide. Over the weekend I read though a few old print outs from various sources on the topic of fear of success. Each article gave a different example of fear of success, and was derived from some individual’s experience. So, to say we might have “fear of success” is just step one – we then have to explore our own unique history.

                        (In my case I could say that “success” for me in previous jobs would be a threat to my boss. They needed my performance to be as bad as theirs. So, if I approached them with a successful and timely piece of work, I was met with intimidation and destabilisation. Therefore, I might be prone to sabotage my own good performance).

                        Dave

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Marc,

                          What made me try to solve these things was Lee Iacocca’s assertion that the two key qualities he looked for in a rising manager were decisiveness and people skills.

                          Decisiveness in our personal lives is hard - you put it so well in describing the sense of loss that attaches to all the things you let go. But believe me, at this stage, when I compare reading one book properly with skipping from book to book to book, the single book option fills me with infinitely more enjoyable anticipation.

                          In work it is a different problem, and is inseparable from people: what should I do first? How will I justify this choice if any of the other people come looking for their stuff before I have started on theirs? I just have to keep telling myself that most bosses will not complain when I get stuff finished.

                          People skills are hard to nail down. I would definitely say that the better “people” people I have met got an unfair share of charisma at the talents counter. I have me with a lot of small business men, and they have that ability to convince anyone they deal with that “everything is fine” – the goods are on the way; the money’s in the post; and so on. And people believe them! Charisma seems to even out-trump excellence, as far as I can see.

                          For me, I just take every phone call that comes now, and somewhere in the conversation I find that I can strike common ground, either about the weather or holidays, and bit by bit, I am exorcising the demons.

                          Dave

                          P.S. If I said I saw Steve Hackett in Dublin a few months ago, would you be envious?
                          P.P.S. Did you hear that Tony Banks has just released an Orchestral Suite?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I think your analysis is probably accurate.

                            As far as finding good books, i actually have a specific strategy.
                            Firstly, whenever i find a good idea, i go straight to the HORSES MOUTH to learn about it. Many times good ideas are watered down by the simple fact that whoever is talking about the idea, is about 7 generations removed from the ORIGINAL idea. I am NOT a believer in Philosophical Homeopathy!
                            For instance, the idea of Self-Talk is a very sound one, but by the time the New-Agers are talking about it, it has become an unsound idea.
                            So for me, when i find a good idea, i go to the CREATOR of that idea, and not his students, or students students, or imitators or plagiarizers.

                            Just a quick point, focusing on the negative effects of procrastinating COULD be making things worse by creating more tension.
                            Also, you can RETRAIN your responses to dealing with other people, and you can retrain those automatic thoughts relating to the fact that your brain has become conditioned to fear some type of crazy/abusive response from a boss.
                            Over time, by using specific techniques, your brain will learn that those experiences are in the past. Also, we can train ourselves to NOT ALLOW crazyish people to make us crazy!

                            Dr. Albert Ellis has a good little book called, "How To Stubbornly Refuse To Make Yourself Miserable About Anything...Yes, Anything!" Ellis is 100% serious with that outrageous title, and his work is similar to Becks.

                            Its too much to go into here, but i would recommend a simple but sound book called "MIND OVER MOOD" by Greenberger.
                            I would also recommend "THE FEELING GOOD HANDBOOK" by Dr David D Burns.
                            Both those books are by direct students of Beck.
                            I prefer Beck’s work the most, but his technical work is written for professionals.





                            Originally posted by Busydave
                            Coz

                            Where do you get to hear about all those excellent books you read?

                            I love Dr Beck’s idea that automatic thoughts create our emotions. I my case, I would readily agree with your suggestion that my problem is people based.

                            Getting back to Dr Beck, I experience a particular emotion when a face to face task comes up. I experience an instantaneous conviction that it will go badly for me, and a sense of dread. It’s crazy – it might be the simplest business phone call, but that dark monster hovers in the shadows behind the conversation threatening an assault on me.

                            I’m sure is due to the reflexive conclusions that my mind reaches based on previous unpleasant experience.
                            Last edited by CosmoGTD; 03-29-2006, 01:03 AM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Commintment

                              I too have that feeling that I should be listening to all my classical music cds and studying music theory, I should be reading more books in at least 10 different areas beside work reading, I should be working on several dozen work projects as well as home improvement.

                              What I have found out is that I never knew more about a composer than when I was going to Vienna and I immersed myself in biographys, his music, his operas, books about his music etc. It was wonderful.


                              When I first got my Boston Symphony Orchestra subscription I sat in my second balcony seat beside Evelyn who died during my 3rd season. She showed me why our second balcony seats were the best. We looked right down on the conductor and the acoustics were terrific. She introduced me the people in the surrounding seats that who had had their seats for decades or were second generation. She listened to every piece on the program the week before the symphony unless it was modern or a pieice she couldn't get. I copied her. The intermission and after were filled with an animated discussion of the piece, the playing and the conducting. When she hated something she was articulate and animated about exactly why. She limited her intense listening during the symphony season to what was played so that she could be completely "there" in intelligent listening at the BSO. The BSO was all she could afford to listen to so she didn't travel the world to listen to music, but she compared the recordings of the scheduled pieces. When she was very sick with a brain tumour, she came on last time to the symphony and did her absolute best to listen completely. I got out of the habit of doing that after she died. I bought other records etc, I lost that total concentration. I have never got out of it what I got with Evelyn. She was the perfect music listener.

                              Sometimes less in more.
                              l

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