If only I could get away for a week, or maybe a weekend. Just a single day. I could get it done, I could … if only …
Let me break the news early on: it’s not going to happen.
We all have grand visions of ourselves doing or being this version of ourselves that might be just that: a vision. My personal vision is of me on a balcony with a view of a lake writing for a month without interruption of any kind. About as likely as sugar plum fairies dancing in my head.
Here’s the question to ask: if you remove the barriers to reaching that vision, will you actually do it?
Take the typical writer (and his/her so-called block). The setting will never be just perfect to write their Great Novel. They didn’t have the right software or their tea was too cold or they needed just the right slippers. The mood wasn’t right, the market wasn’t primed, the sun had already set, the planets weren’t in alignment. OK, OK, back down to Earth. I have a job. I have a full-time job. I have a full-time job and a part time job and they’re not related to this thing I want to do–to this being I want to become. I need more notebooks. My pens are out of ink. My Internet is too slow. I have too many kids. My dog needs a walk. I just need to finish up this client work first.
I. Just. Don’t. Have. Time.
My friend Khaled Hosseini often tells the story of how he wrote The Kite Runner. He didn’t have time either. He had two small children and a full-time job as a physician. Wow, boy, sheesh, how do you get around that? Easy. You make time. He got up two hours earlier each day and wrote his book. Did he have the right slippers? Was his tea the perfect temperature? Was his spell check working that day? None of it mattered, he was busy writing. He was so busy doing–and he knew that he had limited time to get it done–that I’m going to bet that none of those factors mattered. Or at least they didn’t matter enough to stop him.
In fact, the good old Parkinson’s law (Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.) is in full force in this example. If you “give yourself” a free-and-clear month to do your project, you will probably take a month. But see note above about that month is probably never happening (unless you’re incarcerated … ).
Create 10 Minutes
I know you don’t “have” 10 minutes, that’s OK, we’re going to fabricate it, invent it, pull it out of a hat. In fact, it’s going to start right now. You say you have to do something immediately. I don’t believe you. You’re reading this right now, it might have gone on another few paragraphs, there’s your 10 minutes.
Imagine your vision. What would it be like? No, how would it look from above? Not from a helicopter, but maybe just from the neighbor’s roof. What are you actually doing? Are you writing? Outlining your project? Taking notes? Jotting down the first things that come into your head about how you start? Maybe a two-column list of Pros and Cons of the project. Under Cons, you could have a subsection, “What’s the worst that could happen if I do this project?” OK, another subsection, “What the worst that could happen if I don’t do this project?” I know you don’t have 10 minutes, now you don’t have 8. Answer those two questions. Here are my answers:
- Worst that could happen if I do: it fails.
- Worst that could happen if I don’t: I’ll regret it every day until I die.
You now have 7 minutes left. I just answered mine in 1 minute. You know why it didn’t take me long to answer? Because I think about these things often. Because they are the difference between who I am and who I envision who I am. I want to bridge that gap. I want them to be the same. I don’t have a month, I have 10 minutes. It’s a start.
- Possible: dream about the vision of you doing the task.
- Impossible: align stars, planets, tea, slippers, and Internet connection.
- Repossible: take the teensiest step towards the vision.
Don Miller on, among other things, “What if we are not the identities we project?”
If only my coffee were just right, then I could start my project …