I’m a pretty task-oriented person. If I’m busy in the kitchen, you should probably get out. If I’m configuring a server, I’d rather not stop for some chit-chat about the cricket. I’m exaggerating but you get the point.
Recently, however, I’ve started to reconcile the clash between that nature and what seems to be a general inability to finish things. Not surprisingly, the clash causes quite some frustration and even feeling hunted by those outstanding tasks. The first step to dealing with this was to step back and realise that there’s a world of reasons why I might not get some project complete fast enough. Busyness, procrastination (here’s a good article), other priorities, lack of motivation…
This is helpful, but on its own ends up sounding like a bunch of excuses. Step up to round two: It doesn’t matter what I achieve. I have a slightly different take on Devdutt Pattanaik’s talk about infinity and so forth, in that my life is but one of six billion currently and lots more through history; plus my earthly life is but a speck in eternity. So, what does matter? People.
If there’s a moment I can spend with my daughter and I happen to be content to do so, then heck yes I’ll spend it with her. If there are dirty dishes and there isn’t anything else I particularly feel like doing, then I’ll wash them to deter any houseflies or ants which really annoy my wife. I haven’t yet gone further than my wife and daughter with this approach, but I guess it might happen.
Right now I could finish mounting that kitchen blind, tidy up some toys, or even do some extra work to make tomorrow’s system outage run more smoothly. Instead, I’m going to play some Civ 5, guilt free.
 No I don’t aim to become some sort of martyr. It’s not helpful, and I’m not made of martyr material anyway.
I rarely leap toward change. Perhaps it is time, but it is not yet for me to decide. Wisdom please, Lord, and contentment on either path.
My daughter is an incredible, wonderful blessing. My wife is an even more amazingly good mother than I could have estimated. I am content, joyful. I think others’ wellbeing needs to be a big focus for me. So do I take this change (cryptic, no details yet)? Maybe.
You’ve put words to something I couldn’t articulate very well, Josh – thank you. Now I’ll springboard from it. Life is a journey rather than a destination, so surely who we are is ever-changing too. Occasionally I think back to something I’ve said or done and feel terribly embarrassed coz really, it was stupid. But then I remember that was some years ago and I’d never do that now… maybe in a few years I’ll be thinking the same about stuff I’m doing now. I guess that means I will have grown some more.
Obesity is a prevalent problem, but just like everything else in life’s journey there’s generally no quick fix. There’s a great tv ad on at the moment where there’s a line drawn on the ground, and the punchline is “make this the most you’ll ever weigh” and they say things like ‘make small changes’. My synopsis: They’re not telling you you’re a loser coz you’re too fat, they’re not telling you to get skinny. They’re saying live just a little bit healthier than you have been until now. I’m in pretty decent shape, but some improvement certainly wouldn’t hurt me – maybe I won’t polish off an entire swiss roll tomorrow. Getting going in the right direction, rather than teleporting to the destination.
Fusion call it Content and Process (well they did back in 2001), and I’ve heard of task-oriented vs people-oriented, and there’s Journey and Destination. Of course there are differences between the three (et al) but I think they’re about the same general idea: It’s not so much what you’re doing or where you’re going or what it’s about. No, it’s how you’re doing it, who you step on (hopefully noone) on the way there, and who is involved. I guess when you’re trying (as per Josh’s post) you’re assuming you’re already there and trying in vain to act as if you are, whereas if you’re training you know you’re not there yet, but you’re on the way.