Even good girls get lost
I’ll start this year’s blogging with a confession (after a long break):
In the past 3 months I’ve been a good girl.
Sure, someone could debate me on the “girl”-part, but there’s no doubt I’ve been good. I’d go so far as to say that I’ve been able to become someone I’m not, and display traits that really weren’t mine: Finally I managed to become that super-focused and together woman who had got her priorities straight.
If I only knew what had got into me, I may even have ventured out to become one of those self-help gurus that get rich by dispensing general advice to people looking for specific solutions. I’m pretty sure there’s a market for a 12-step-program for recovering procrastinators. Unfortunately I wasn’t focused enough at the onset of this new phase of my life, to actually become aware of any tips I could sell to others.
During times when I wasn’t such a good girl, I’ve searched the World Wide Web for remedies. For every self-accusatory point I listed, there was always at least a dozen gurus, coaches and motivational speakers (they tend to self-identify into these categories) with clear answers.
Unable to focus?
Losing focus during a task?
For every point on this list there’s more advice than you can digest in a lifetime.
And if we follow that advice and finally curb our natural inclinations to do what we have decided we shouldn’t, to take alternative routes to the quickest, most straight-forward path, then life will be better; we’ll have success; we’ll spend less time in self-loathing. And with efficiency we get more done, and when we get more done, we’re happier with ourselves, and thus happier in general.
Now that’s a story I would like to tell!
Instead my great endeavour came rolling back over me like a train with faulty breaks.
After 2 months of being a good girl, I was far from happy. Turns out that putting work first, and keeping to your list of priorities isn’t the prozac the time-planners out there claim it is.
My experience with being focused and disciplined, is that focus often becomes tunnel-vision. And while it is a good thing to manage to achieve goals, not seeing what’s around us, disorients and makes us lose the context of what we want to obtain.
I remember that while studying languages, I’d get extremely frustrated with myself for getting lost in the dictionary. After looking up that first word, others questions would be triggered and I’d go on learning new words for half an hour. A whole half-hour that didn’t bring me any closer to finishing my assignment. I dreamed of more self-control, control over my brain and being able to just get things done in an efficient way.
Many years later I’ve realized how all that “wasted time” is what has made my abilities in different languages develop to the point they have. Speaking and developing language is all about being side-tracked: Why else would we go on producing synonyms? There would be no need, would there, since we already have words that convey the exact same meaning. And since the invention and development of language is all about side-vision, changing directions and playing with structures, why should language learning be any different?
Come to think of it, there are multitudes of areas where being too focused is detrimental to the outcome. Any policy that focuses too narrowly on solving an isolated problem, tends to lose vision of how the problem is intertwined with other problems and other systems.
Keeping your side-vision certainly makes it harder and more cumbersome to find a solution, but it limits the risk of finding yourself reaching your target, only to realize that the context around is falling to pieces. The environmental disasters we see around the world bear witness of ingeneers, industrialists, politicians that were good boys and girls, focusing only on the task at hand. No time for side-vision or even looking up.
So, one month into the new year, I’ve made this resolution to myself: I’ll embrace my side-tracking; I’ll struggle to keep my 180 degree vision; I’ll learn all I can from the things I do while I really should be doing something else. Some would call it: smelling the roses.
Hopefully that will give me time for thinking new thoughts and blogging regularly.
Certainly it will make me happier on a day-to-day basis.