MUSINGS OF A STORY MERCHANT

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

5th of 5 installments, from How to Escape Lifetime Security and Pursue Your Impossible Dream

If You’re Going to Invest in Yourself You’ll Have to Steal Time for Your Dreams

continued from previous post

Tips on time and work management

Rate everything that crosses your desk 1, 2, or 3. Then make an agenda for the 1s immediately, and immediately delegate the 2s to someone else. Put the 3s in a drawer designated the "3-drawer," setting aside a few hours once a month to go through it and see what's still important enough to deal with. You'll discover that most of the contents of the 3-drawer are even less important then than they were. Napoleon supposedly had all his mail dumped before the bags were opened, on the premise that the important news would have reached him already and anything he neglected that should not have been neglected would make itself known. I¹m sure that Josephine quickly found an alternative method of communicating with her Emperor.

Postpone procrastination! Anthony Robbins says, "The best way to deal with procrastination is to postpone it." Procrastinate with everything except your dream. To make that happen you need to--

As much as possible, solve each problem as it occurs. Postponing the solution automatically increases the total amount of time needed for it. Opening a letter, then stacking it somewhere, is counterproductive. If you know from the envelope that the letter isn't important, toss it in the nearest wastebasket and don't even take it into your den.

Selective pruning

Mencius: Men must be decided on what they will not do, and then they are able to act with vigor in what they ought to do.

Just as the vitality of a tree can work against the tree unless an experienced arboriculturist is engaged to prune the weaker branches, dreams can be dangerous unless you understand their peculiar fertility. As work creates more work, one dream breeds another, usually grander than the one before. Success has ramifications, breeding all kinds of activities; and, unless you recognize that and infuse "regrouping" time into your success agenda, you'll suddenly find yourself "too busy" to be successful again.

I’ve often been accused of being “an enthusiast.” If you’re a dedicated writer, so are you. But enthusiasts must protect themselves from their enthusiasms. To accomplish this, I suggest the following.
  • · Hold a monthly "drop" meeting with yourself. The object of the meeting is to select activities that can be dropped for a month, with a promise to reevaluate their importance at your next meeting. I go through my project files monthly and force myself to table or discard the weaker ones, thereby constantly improving the quality of the projects I work on. As you become experienced in the Type C life, you'll recognize that one of its strangest characteristics is the necessity of killing the little monsters--that once were bright dreams--nipping at your heels. The smaller dreams must now be pruned away so that the bigger ones can thrive. Of course it's even better to kill them off before they begin, as Albert Camus said: "It's better to resist at the beginning, than at the end."
  • · Don't feel bad about the discards. Celebrate them. More than sacrifices or disappointments, they are symptoms of your disciplined progress. Just because you can do something, after all, no longer means that you must or should do it. That was the old you, dominated by the Accountant, before your Mind's Eye opened to engage you in an entrepreneurial career transit.
  • · When evaluating new projects, keep in mind the sign that psychologist Carl Jung had framed above his desk:
Yes No Maybe

"Maybe" is crossed out as well as 'No" to remind us that it's the "Maybes" that devour our time and dream energies. If the answer to an incoming idea or request isn't definitively "Yes," it's definitively "No." Never Maybe. Maybe kills countless ambitions and splendid plans. "We are what we pretend to be," says Kurt Vonnegut's narrator in Mother Night, "so we must be careful about what we pretend to be."

You may also find it useful to go through the following checklist:
  • · Is this a good idea (or opportunity)? Yes or No.
  • · Is this idea directly connected with my dream? Yes or No. If the answer is No, pass it along to someone else "with no strings attached.²
  • · Does this idea fit into my present agenda? If not, is it such a good idea that I should revise my agenda to accommodate it?
  • · Is the world ready for this idea?
  • · Am I ready to spend years making it real?
It's extremely important to consider both internal and external "timing" when it comes to evaluating new ideas and opportunities. Many of us waste time on good ideas whose time has either come and gone, or won't be coming for too long a time to make its present implementation productive. Of course, thanks to the predictably unpredictable impact of chaos on our lives, we can never be certain about timing. But we can be certain about our gut reaction to the checklist.

So long as you live, be radiant, and do not grieve at all. Life's span is short and time exacts the finalreckoning.--Cepitaph of Seikilos for his wife (100 B.C.)

Buy How to Escape Lifetime Security and Pursue Your Impossible Dream: A Guide to Transforming Your Career on Amazon

Read If You’re Going to Invest in Yourself You’ll Have to Steal Time for Your Dreams from the beginning.

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