Tag Archives: goal

Commitment and accountability

One of the good things about National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) is that your commitment to a post a day invites you to write every day, even when you don’t feel like it. One of the bad things about NaBloPoMo is that you ‘have to’ write every day. And my inner child yells “I don”t want to!!!”. All perfectly according to that darn horse shoe I’ve drawn.

One of the reasons to write this month, was accountability for working on my November project. Well, today is the day I dreaded: I haven’t worked on my project, and I’m not sure I have a valid excuse. I could try to make one and see if you think it’s valid, but who would I be fooling?

I’m too tired at the end of this day, even without working on my project. I’m stressed about it, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to finish it in time. Wednesday will be a very busy day, and I expect to have no time for it then.  I expect to not have the energy to compensate for that on another day.

What will happen if I don’t make my deadline? Nothing. We might even still be able to do our taxes in the month of December, which is what I was aiming for. So I might be able to reach my goal, even when I don’t deliver my planned result on time. So why worry?

I’m too tired at the end of this day, even without working on my project. I’m stressed about it, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to finish it in time. Wednesday will be a very busy day, and I expect to have no time for it then.  I expect to not have the energy to compensate for that on another day.
What will happen if I don’t make my deadline? Nothing. We might even still be able to do our taxes in the month of December, which is what I was aiming for. So I might be able to reach my goal, even when I don’t deliver my planned result on time. So why worry?

I think I have a thing about being committed to commitment. When I have a plan, I feel I should stick to it. When I set a goal, I feel I should reach it. When I tell all of you about what I’m doing, I feel I should at least be doing it!
Today is not the day. My inner critic is ready to throw rotten tomatoes at me and tell me what he thinks of me. I’n not sure I’m willing to listen. My throat aches, I’m tired and I wonder if I’m coming down with the flu. Why make things worse by listening to a bully?

I’m tagging my post now and wonder if I should add ‘procrastination’ as a tag. Which would feel like I declare myself a procrastinator today. I’m too tired to care if my choices today were procrastination or sensible. Or maybe both, why not? So, I’ll add ‘meh’ as a tag. That’s the part about today that feels relevant now.

If you want to read something sensible, I have a post about accountability. A good one, with useful comments.

The fact that I post even when ‘meh’, counts as commitment. #NaBloPoMo day 20 done. Tomorrow is a new day.

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 😉

How to slay a scope creep

“The things you do always grow bigger and bigger”. My partner wasn’t making me a compliment, he was providing unwanted but much needed feedback. “You suffer from scope creep”. Of course the first thing I did was deny it – that way I had brain space available to check if he was right (or so I tell myself).

I wonder what dressing up as a scope creep for Halloween would look like... I know now what it looks like in my real life: I start something, I have a vague idea of what Iwant to accomplish, new ideas come up (new insights, new possibilities, extra opportunities) and before I know it what started as something manageable ends up being too big to finish. Or takes way too much time, or way too much energy.

My partner was right. I do suffer from scope creep. I blame my creative brain. I like to develop things on the fly. I like to improvise, be in the moment. My brain works very associative, so one idea will lead to another. All of that is very nice, when it helps me move forward, create new things, go on adventures. But it’s a disaster when it comes to things like decluttering and organising. This is how that typically goes:

‘Ah, here’s something that doesn’t belong anywhere yet. Let’s find a place for it’. *Opens closet, and sees things that don’t belong there*. ‘I’ll remove these things first, to make some space’. *Puts something in a drawer, realises the drawer is a mess, takes something from the drawer that can be thrown into the recycling bin.*Oops, I had promised to empty the recycling bin, let’s do that today’. *Opens another closet to put one of the things from scene one away, and realises this closet holds children’s clothing that don’t fit anymore and should be dealt with.*

Etc. I’m not going to bore you with the rest of that story. My point is: decluttering and organising are like a wildfire in my head. I start off with one thing I want to deal with, and I end up with a picture of EVERYTHING that’s wrong in my house. Which is quite a lot, since I’m not very organised… No wonder I tend to procrastinate on decluttering – I know it makes me feel bad (I’ve described some of those self critical thoughts in yesterdays’ post.)

When I started thinking about my November project, I realised scope creep had entered my mind before I even started. My promise to my partner was that we would get our taxes done, and I would find the information we needed. My scopecreepy brain had automatically added ‘yay, that’s a great opportunity to finally unpack those boxes from moving your office back to your house, create space for your stuff in your cupboards, and sort out those cupboards because there is no space yet.’ Yes, that’s a really long sentence. Gotta love that brain!

Moreover, when I took the time to do a little thinking, I realised I had something extra in mind that was great as a starting point, but really dangerous as a (stealthy) requirement: I would do all this in such a way, that I could apply all my learnings from working with Lisa from less stuff, from being coached on my personal development, etc. Etc! Basically ALL learnings that I could possibly fit in – and I had thought all of that without actually realising I was adding it to my plan.

I tell you, scope creep is creepy. It makes it impossible to reach your goals, and sets you up for failure (with so many bars it’s impossible to reach all of them!). So I realised I needed to do some thinking. How to avoid my usual pitfalls, and make this work?

Slaying methods step one

When in danger of scope creep, start with creating a scope instead of just doing

  • define a concrete result to deliver on a specific date.
  • define what goal that result should bring in the future (so after delivery).
  • define boundaries: when to quit the approach because it’s not working

In my case (insights added in italics):

  • Planned result: On 30th November 2017, everything that’s needed to do our taxes is handed over to my accountant (I’m self employed as a ‘small business’, hence the accountant).
  • Goal:  our taxes over 2016 are done before the end of the year Realisation: I need to check with my accountant if he has enough time available to do that in December, if not, I need to redesign my planned result or change my goal!
  • Boundaries: When my fear of drowning in the project becomes reality. I can ‘measure’ that by me feeling bad about myself. Bad moments are okay, when I keep feeling bad that’s not okay, then it’s time to change my approach (for example ask for help).

The thought process around result, goal and boundaries turned out to be very helpful.

Yesterday I did too much, and the aftermath lasted all day. Or even longer. When I got out of bed I found myself thinking ‘When is the best part of the day to get exhausted today?’. Luckily I heard myself thinking, and noticed that’s not a reasonable idea. I realised slaying method #1 is just a start, and I need more ways to control this process.

To be continued…

One of the things I like about #NaBloPoMo is to pay things forward and discover new blogs. It was my online friend David Ellis who made me aware of the existance of this month. David is a beautiful person and a wonderful poet, and I fully recommend his blog TooFullTooWrite. I love his work. During NaBloPoMo he publishes a new poem every day, both in written form and (bravely, I shudder at the thought of doing that) performed on Facebook live. He also shares a lovely blog roll of fellow participants.