Whenever you are completely out of your element anything can and will throw you off balance. I have not posted in over a week, after I was slammed by unexpected events. Despite the seeming calamity of unpreparedness, I over reacted to other people’s problems and also failed to prepare for my own upcoming challenges. Neither of which warranted me downshifting into survival mode.
“Write down these words exactly four weeks from today on your calendar: “David Allen said a month ago that something was coming I couldn’t foresee that would affect “me significantly.” Prove me wrong. Are you ready? ” David Allen writes in the first chapter of Ready For Anything.
Rather than trying to maintain my system and act, as if I had a perfect system anyway, I have simply treaded water – reacting to the biggest and the loudest, or to paraphrase David Allen’s Matrix of Self-Management becoming a victim and a responder — often times to someone else’s problems.
Now multiply this over days, weeks months and years, growing up and living in an almost constant reactive environment. You get survival mode – where the truly important and urgent becomes important and urgent over and over again in crisis after crisis because you never address the situations when you should. It’s a horrible place to be and the more I reflect on it, the more I see the root cause of my problems- bad filters and maps —fractured learned responses perpetuated by self-lies and limiting beliefs.
Now here is the rub, would having a perfectly laid out game plan for my life and week perfectly prioritized and scheduled helped?
Not at all! You cannot schedule your way out of a disaster when you cannot not see the wood for the trees. When something blindsides you—you only have the choice of whether or not to act or react based on all the known variables – aka your commitments.
Needless to say I chose to react rather than to act; thereby empowering things that were out of my control — furthermore disempowering me; because I never had a clear perspective on my commitments.
Furthermore, even if I had appropriate perspective and even if everything were planned out I would have to send myself down another rabbit trail spinning my wheels to reschedule my schedule which is completely and utterly absurd.
So you cannot brute force your life, schedule everything in advance, successfully – despite the mantras of life’s elites, and you cannot completely outsource life’s drudgeries via a virtual assistant, including your own creative work, you still have to work at work, even it is play for you. And you still have to think about where you are and what you do in the moment.
Your decisions will only be as good as you, as good as your filters and your maps, the maps that you create to make your life decisions, call them habits or routines, but you first have to learn them through an alien concept of learned repetition, that is where checklists come into play.
Conversely, a mentor and a friend of mine, who is more masterful in dealing with life’s challenges currently faces something truly critical and urgent and life changing – a serious family illness. Rather than buckling under from a wave of emotion and learned-paralysis, he is successfully navigating the situation, acting as a rock of support for his loved ones. He credits his proactive response to his own maps and guide posts – the very lists he keeps on a daily basis.
Ironically, sometimes its life’s most seemingly mundane concepts and tasks, like keeping lists, that when masterfully used, can give us the most profound tools and insights for reflection and empowerment.