My barrier

ICal_IconHere is the avatar for the biggest barrier I am currently butting up against. The problem isn't that I don't use it well, or don't have an effective system in place, or that I don't manage my schedule.  My problem is that I do all of those things.  Way too well.

Take it as given that I'm better at scheduling than you are.  As a former project manager and lawyer, I learned early on that the only way you can stay on top of everything and keep all the balls in the air is to develop an effective system.

I have systems of systems with bring-forward dates, reminders, a way of keeping different classes of items separate, etc.  I have ever-more efficient ways of inputting into those systems, so that it's actually more efficient to use the efficiency systems I've created.  I'm exponentially efficient.

I'm a disaster.

Every time life would throw something new at me, I would happily take it on, and then read more books and identify more ways to be efficient.  When I felt drowned in my work, I would discover, adopt and adapt new systems and approaches to solving that problem.

"I'm drowning in my work, so the problem must be that I don't have an effective system for managing all the work."

And so I'd study GTD methodology, or get really good at Evernote, or something else, and adapt that to suit my own needs.  Things would be good, for a few more days, weeks or months.  And then I would need more efficiency to manage the new pile of tasks.

This isn't working any more.  It's bankrupting.  What I've distinguished with my coach is that I am trying to manage a life that is fundamentally at odds with who I am.  I don't want to have all of these things, and I don't want to have a schedule that is so packed, it leaves no room for spontaneously going and grabbing a beer with a friend in town.

I want to make this really clear.  The barrier in front of me is not that I don't have a system sufficient to manage everything - it's that I'm trying to use control to keep me doing something I don't want to in the first place.

Why the heck am I doing all that stuff in the first place?!  In part, because I'm worried that I have to, lest I fail at my venture.  If I don't say yes to everything, I'll won't be successful.  This is also a bankrupt concept, but it's a little deeper.  If I can start attacking that faulty belief, I can actually generate some powerful change.  I can create something outside of my usual experience.

This is the barrier we all come up against.  We assume that the problem is simply a lack of a system on our part, and then try to use control to manage the perceived failings.  Let me simplify that.  The barrier is that you're doing the exact same thing you always do, and expecting a different result.

[Tweet "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. -Albert Einstein"]

I often have people come to me wanting to develop systems to prevent themselves from procrastinating or be more efficient at their jobs.  They think that if only they had a new method, then things would be different.

With these clients, I tell them two things.  First, here's a bunch of things you can do to stop yourself procrastinating.  Second, take note of how long it takes before you sabotage these techniques.  They consistently leave empowered to have new tools, and consistently last about a week before reverting to procrasting.

You're not procrastinating because you don't know how to get yourself started.  It's easy - you pick up the paper and you do the work.  You get it done, and then you no longer have to worry about it.

You're looking for a system to manage the symptom of the underlying problem: you don't want to do that work.  It's that simple.  You're procrastinating because you have an insistence that you have to do the work, and a fear about the consequence of not doing it (and probably one about the consequences of actually completing the work as well).

So this is the funny thing - the barrier isn't that you don't have a system to resolve your issue.  It's that you're focused on the wrong issue altogether.  All the scheduling and efficiency in the world isn't going to make me happier when what I really want are big huge breaks in the middle of the day and spontaneity.  Dieting and controlling your eating habits will make no difference when the problem is actually a lack of compassion for yourself.

Welcome to your blindspot.

What are you currently struggling with, and what method have you been trying (repeatedly) to impose to address that struggle.  If it actually wasn't about that particular issue at all, what might be at the core?  What might you be avoiding?  Let's talk.

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