Who do you allow to run your show?

After I caught myself thinking this morning: ‘When is the best part of the day to get exhausted today? I wondered: who’s running this show?

I know I’m the one who created my November project, and I’m the one designing a process to help me reach my goal. I’m the one who’s blogging too. But when I start working on my project, who’s running THAT show?

I have very strict schoolmaster inside of me (think Pink Floyd, The Wall). He often tells me what to do, and how to do it. Every ‘what’ comes with a complete rule book of it’s own. Let’s take for example his attitude towards planning:

  • You have to create goals (→ the only way to get proper results)
  • You have to stick to your goals (→ they’re not allowed to change, change is failure)
  • You have to work on you goals every day (→ not working on them for a day is failing the whole system of goals setting, is failing yourself, is stupid)
  • You have to create a plan how to reach your goals (-> if not, you’re really stupid)
  • You have to work on your goals according to the plan you’ve made (→ exceptions not accepted, they’re a sign of no discipline, weak excuses to be lazy)

As you can see, my school master teams has bonded with my inner critic (the parts in italics). One dictates the orders, the other one tells me why it’s vital to follow up those orders. It’s a lot easier to fail this set of tyrants than to satisfy them.

Having identified these, it’s easy to see where that morning question came from: ‘When is the best part of the day to get exhausted?’. Not from the healthy part of me (the part that wants things and creates reasonable ways to get there) but from my inner schoolmaster, together with my iner critic: You have a goal! You have to work on it!! Circumstances are not relevant!!! Don’t be weak!!!!

I realised this, I got a bit wiser, and I went to work. Not on my November project, but coaching a client. It was a lovely autumn day and we decided to take the coaching outside and walk. We walked for an hour, using the surroundings as input for the coaching process. After that hour I was satisfied and tired.

I always think that normal people rest when they’re tired. I’m not used to doing that (so my inner critic tells me I’m not normal, get it?). My inner schoolmaster believes that idleness is the devil’s workshop. So he either puts me to work straight away, or starts nagging me when I manage to take a break: ‘come up, hurry up, restore yourself, your next task is waiting’… Needless to say that it’s hard to rest when your brain keeps suggesting you should be something different.

When I was thinking about how much I could do on my project even though I was tired, I realised my schoolmaster was running the show. He popped up yesterday, and forgot to leave.

I need to think of a way of moving forward that comes from the healthy part of me. There are several options for today:

  • setting an amount of time. (I can keep it simple: a reasonable set amount of time. I can also choose to set a minimum and a maximum, to have both direction and boundaries.)
  • setting an amount of work (ditto: I can either choose a reasonable amount of work or set a minimum and a maximum).

–> Benefits of choosing time: easier to control
–> Benefits of choosing an amount: I like to see concrete results

–> Drawback of choosing time: the risk of wildfire in my brain
–> Drawback of choosing an amount: I may do too much or too little compared to the energy I have

My inner critic is wondering whether al this writing isn’t simply procrastination. My schoolmaster yells ‘stop thinking and get the bloody job done’. The healthy version of me enjoys the writing, and appreciates the clarity it brings. It also suggests that it’s time now to choose which way I will move forward on my project today. And post this only AFTER I get my stuff done 🙂

And done! Both my task, and the not posting this until later. I chose to follow today’s prompt in the decluttering group, and apply it to a heap of administration: to pick out 5 things and sort it. I might write a post later on how much self management those 5 things cost, both to get chosen and to get done.

And then… my body sent me signals: take a break. This post needs work (like creating links and stuff). You need to do that work later, not now.

When my brain tells me to do something later, it’s often procrastination. When my body tells me to do something later, it’s often a boundary.

So I took a break. I am happy to finish this post now that I’m waiting for my dinner. I feel satisfied about the work I got done. I’m proud that I managed to guard my boundaries. I feel good – and I haven’t even had my dinner yet 😉


10 thoughts on “Who do you allow to run your show?

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  6. TooFullToWrite

    I have to have my dinner to generate writer fuel and to get it out of the way, otherwise I too might keep on going and not think to eat for hours at a time. I think that any writing is productive if it has goals and purpose behind it, along with clear messages. I’m also more comfortable now with taking breaks in between writing something, as I find it helps the writing when I am stuck on a line or two. So I am learning very much from your good examples and habits laid out here 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Angela van Son Post author

      Yay! Thank you David. I’m a slave to food, so that could never happen to me. Allthough I do it eat too late sometimes. Much to my detriment.

      I have both the experience of being very disciplined (extremely disciplined, my friends thought) and having hardly any disciplin at all.

      I think I have the situations of thesis and antithesis covered, and am now searching for synthesis. Dialectic living 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. TooFullToWrite

        And if you take too many pictures/selfies of yourself then does that mean you also have photosynthesis covered as well 😉 The truth will set you free but in reality it usually just raises even more questions about life, the universe and everything 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: The difference between have-to and want-to | Stop procrastinating now!

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