Posts Tagged ‘goal setting’

Some people who might otherwise be artists, or merely more productive, turn their creative talents elsewhere because they cannot tolerate being alone for extended periods. Anna Held Audette

Is it ever honorable to avoid creating, practicing, playing at your chosen craft or tackle a hard task? Of course. There are a thousand times when you can righteously say “no” to the work. But there are as many times when you must righteously say “yes.” Between the two there is no time left ever to say “maybe.”
When you do say “yes,” where will you be? Completely alone. In order to start, an artist must invite in and be able to tolerate active aloneness. We can all tolerate passive aloneness reasonably well: in that dull state we can nap, watch TV, read, play computer games, think of people to call. But active aloneness is a cat of another stripe.
To be actively alone means to be belligerent, alive, ecstatic, afraid, on your feet, wired, doubtful, upset, fired up, and all the rest. It means that mistakes are about to happen. It means that contradictory ideas will engulf you, and confrontation will occur. As the painter Agnes Martin explains it:
               The solitary life is full of terrors. If … you go walking down a country lane in the dark, it is an entirely different thing than walking with someone else. If you were not completely distracted you would surely feel “the fear” part of the time, the pervasive fear that is always with us. In solitude this fear is lived and finally understood.


Read Full Post »

Multitasking is not the secret to success. A scattered, unfocused mindset sabotages the accomplishment of the major-tasking that creates lovely memories and crosses off the jobs that need doing but one time. Myriad studies prove that multitasking not only isn’t efficient in the long run, it causes stress and high blood pressure. It is the opposite of the spiritual experience of mindfulness. But this knowledge hasn’t put an end to the compulsion to confound my hands and mind with co-existing activity. My secret selves, the inner child and protector, cling to the belief that doing more than one thing at a time just has to be effective. They insist that I have to be organized before I can work on my big goals.

The truth is the adrenaline rush of multitasking is far more thrilling than boring old “Focus on one thing at a time and do it right.” I do get a lot done when in a  full-on frantic flurry, but only the mini-tasks.  I cheat myself out of the deep pleasure of seeing an important job well done.

Having a neat desk, photos scanned, files sorted, and sock drawer organized by color are mini-tasks that require focus, but bring only temporary satisfaction and come undone in a week of typical living. My friend “Lake” explained that her kitchen was never as clean as when she had a creative deadline facing her; that the hardest act of an artist/writer was to deny the small voices that told her she first had to have a clean, well-ordered house, and spent precious time completing a hundred insignificant chores before entering her studio.

The steps that lead to my heart’s desire cannot be tackled with the same mosaic of effort of cleaning the kitchen, making a meal, checking the weather channel to see if I dare hang out the laundry, all while on hold for the next available agent. Big goals, the ones that create joy, need a purer intention, a calm focus. It takes mental focus and a calm heart to consider what is important to you.

Do you know what your most precious goals are? Not for your whole life, or the next twenty years. It’s scary for me to notice that at 62, I need to plan a shorter frame. So I’ll begin to think about what I really want to achieve, this year.  Best to work on a short list, two to five, that includes the long denied joys, as well as essential obligations of adulthood. Mine include a first trip to Europe. A return to the gym three times a week. Complete the taxes without deadline stress. More vague,but still important: How can I be a terrific partner for my family members? Read more meaningful books?

When you consider yours, don’t  judge them by size–you’re looking for something that keeps pulling you toward a single sweet focus. Write down two steps to lead you toward each of  your dreams, and post them where you can see them every day. Then turn off your phone, bungee cord yourself into your chair or the treadmill at the gym. The dishes will be there when it’s time for a break. And when you do the dishes? Do them one at a time.

I will if you will! These next ten questions might give you some other clues as to what is befuddling your efforts to get to your dreams.

Self-Discovery Quiz: Mini-Tasking versus Major-Tasking

Rate your responses 0 (not me!) to 5 (how’d you know!)

1. I have a short list of important goals for this year firmly in my mind and written down.

2. At least once a week I make a small step to move toward one of these goals.

3. I believe in the motto “Do it once and do it right,” and am working to be good at it.

4. When I catch myself engaged in simultaneous activities, I stop and choose one to complete.

5. I’ve learned to seek support from my family, friends, and experts to realize my big goals.

6. While at a creative task, like writing a blog, I turn off the sounds of email and phone.

7. I keep reminding myself to “focus” and imagine how good I’ll feel after completing the current task.

8. While waiting for the microwave to ding or the washing machine to complete its spin cycle, I don’t fret, instead I take deep breaths and release tension in my upper body.

9. I don’t feel guilty when chores or family needs are temporarily delayed, because it serves everyone when we each work on our big goals.

10. This quiz is making me nervous!

If you have low numbers on #1-9, and #10 is too true, you believe multi-tasking is more effective than major-tasking. For today, you might choose one of the ideas embedded in the first nine, try it on and see how you look wearing it.

Read Full Post »

Are You Decisive or Ambivalent?

No one feels confident about what to do all the time, but some are more decisive than others. Review the following 20 questions, thinking about how you approach making decisions. Each moment offers us a choice that takes us to a next step, whether it is building daily habits or making big changes.

Give 0 points for each YES and 5 for NEVER, with graduating scale of 1 to 4 for the gray areas.

1. I am excited when starting a new project but seldom complete the ones from before.
2. I am admittedly impulsive, often regretting what I have purchased, agreed to, or done.
3. I seldom give 100% attention to a project–I answer the phone, delay, or sabotage my progress.
4. I often wonder if I made a mistake by choosing my current (or recent) career .
5. I envy or admire many other people’s habits and choices: most seem smarter or braver than mine.
6. I listen to Drs. Phil or Laura and secretly would love someone like them to just tell me what to do!
7. I sometimes blame society, my parents, partner, wife, and/or kids for my not being happy.
8. Deadlines help me sometimes, but too often I give up and say the goal didn’t really matter.
9. People close to me would be surprised at how indecisive I can be.
10. I have much to be grateful for, but regret how I may have blown my chances for a much better life.
11. I often daydream about living a very different life: adventures, successes, sex, risks, then sigh.
12. I feel like an impostor when people admire me or compliment my achievements.
13. I pretend to be more confident than I actually feel about the strength of my relationships.
14. In looking over my life, I see how I’ve blown opportunities by hesitating.
15. I frequently start a new diet or health routine with extreme rigor, and then blow it within a week.
16. I dislike many personality traits (unhappy, depressed, worried) I display much of the time.
17. I often think that if I just lost weight or had more money, most of my problems would be solved.
18. I hate my money situation, body, job, marriage, home, or car, etc., but feel powerless to change it.
19. I have no idea how to really approach a major change or project. I don’t even want to know!
20. I’m not sure I answered these questions the way I should have. (It’s okay to redo them!)

How to grade? Well, 100 obviously some kind of problem, but am not sure what…. The grading is not intended to make you feel bad, I want to encourage you to address the underlying issue of constant dissatisfaction and self-doubt. Take the test in a week and see if the numbers change. Sometimes a quiz helps us to motivate ourselves. Or to accept ourselves and the lives we have managed to create.

If you believe that you are more likely to make worthwhile changes if someone you trust advises you, then seek a life coach or therapist. Life is too short to be living in uncertainty and regret. http://www.cynthiawall.com

Read Full Post »