Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Start.

Start.

It really is as simple as that. Problem is, I tend to put about 75 thoughts and conclusions in front of the actual start. I've been doing this since I was old enough to acknowledge that I was consciously choosing not to start something (or finish something, for that matter)....around 4th grade, I think.

Over my formative years, this manifested itself into me becoming a world-class procrastinator, of which I reaped the benefits early and often. Benefits such as skipping out on chores around the house (and feeling the wrath fo such decisions later), failing classes for no apparent reason, missing assignments, and a general apathy for anything homework-related. This ultimately led to me missing out on things I actually loved to do, such as sports, because I was ineligible for periods at a time due to poor grades.

When it came to college, it was a tougher task to just slack off, but I found ways. Ultimately, during my senoir year, when I had been coasting along, then suddenly losing my uncle to cancer abruptly, it was too much to overcome. My ride had ended, and there was no avoiding it anymore. ((insert "Lie in the bed you made" euphemism here))

Ever since then, it's been a constant struggle with getting up and doing the actual doing of whatever it is I need to be doing. I've tried to come up with reasons as to why it's this way. Fear of.....what, exactly?

Failure? Maybe.

Sucking? Possibly.

Imperfection? Could be.

Add on a few dozen more, and I've likely covered them all. Always the barriers. I've mentioned my entirely unhealthy love affair with the concept of Getting Things Done, or GTD as the uber-dorks call it. It started with picking up the book by David Allen at a bookstore in the Las Vegas Airport back in 2003. I gobbled it up....all the concepts, tips, tricks, ideas, philosophies. It had all the answers I needed for me to break out of this pattern that I had molded and shaped in my own brain for over 2 decades; almost as if it was written specifically for me. I even joined their online community a couple of years ago, shelling ut almost $50 a month just to have the privilege of being on a site with even more of the same regurgitated content, tips, tricks, and sharing it with other people just like me who were also wasting the same time not doing what they were needing to actually do, but pretending they were being productive wasting time on a productivity site. Made perfect sense to me.

So what the hell are you talking about here, Dixon, you self-deprecating ass? Get on with it.

Exactly.

I got some news recently that I've successfully procreated....Life as a daddy begins in Feburary 2010. For those that have been fortunate enough to experience this phase of human life, you know that your priorities (work, life, any) take on an instant and usually tectonic plate-sized shift. Things that were zeroed in on your screen yesterday just got boxed and shelved for (MUCH) later use. Others that were further down your Someday/Maybe list just got called up for immediate clarification.

It's time to start.

No, it shouldn't have taken something as significant as becoming a parent-to-be for me to understand the simple power of that word or phrase. In fact, If I recall correctly, I've even mentioned something close to this very thing on this weblog thingy in the past before. Yeah....I know. I was pondering over lunch today of all the time I've wasted just by thinking of the way I wanted to get something done. I thought about how many times that's been the case with almost everything I've had either the intention or the assignment to do, from taking out the trash to writing a book. If only I had this cool new tool, a new Moleskine notebook, this brainstorming app, reviewing all of these websites for ideas and tips. If only.

So, just start. With a couple ground rules.
  • Give yourself permission to suck. This is a tough one. For anything to be a success, you obviously have to tangibly begin somewhere. So if I choose the wrong path for a graduate degree, or if I have a first draft section of a book or presentation that is complete horseshit...at least I'm that much closer to the desired results.
  • You've got to set aside some time on a regular basis to consciously work on whatever it is you're working on. Distraction-free is a huge bonus here. It doesn't have to be much time. 10-15 minutes, maybe. Whatever it's going to take for it to be you in the moment working towards being further along than when you started. Then put it down. Walk away. Pick something else up and start. Just know that you've made the decision that you will be back to it and start again.
  • Ignore, at all costs, that stupid voice in your head who reminds you that what you're intending to work on likely doesn't mean shit to the vast majority of the world, or that you won't finish anyway. And be cool with that.
I tend to rehash some concepts and ideas from a guy who I think presents these same ideas in a way that has just always worked for me. Here's a great little presentation to listen to that is a lot more effective than I could ever possibly be that cuts to the middle of this concept of Start.

Kudos, Merlin. Again.
Damn you.