0238 – Strive to be resourceful

I’m currently going through my old notebooks and writing about the things I said I would one day write about.

It seems obvious to me that I must have thought about this and written about this because I felt like I lacked resources at the time. And I suppose we’re always lacking resources all the time– the most precious resource is time itself, and everybody’s time is limited. So we all need to become more resourceful to enjoy our lives better. [1]

The thing that really got me into thinking about this was Anthony Robbins’ TED Talk, why do we do what we do. I’ve watched that one several times now and I always feel like I take something away from it. Let me just meditate on that a bit. What do I remember? He describes himself as the Why guy, who wants to understand why people do what they do. He talks about how it’s important to first decide what you’re going to focus on, what that means to you, and what you’re going to do about it.

So to get a little meta here, I’m choosing to focus on this idea of resourcefulness. I’m focusing on it because there’s a compelling promise here– a promise that if you choose the right things, focus on the right things, you don’t actually need a ton of resources. You can, in any moment, use what you already have to go somewhere you previously thought you couldn’t go.

This is also consistent with Chris Hadfield’s idea that we can remove our fears, our limiting beliefs, by being scientific about it, and then walking into our fears head on.

I’m starting to learn to cook, I’m starting to believe that it’s possible for me to run and do well on my runs. Things that matter to me because they were previously limiting beliefs that kept me stuck within very strict patterns, very strict loops.

I want to break out of those loops. I want to meet who I will become.

What are the principles of resourcefulness?

I suppose the first thing is to have an audit of all your existing resources.

Figure out what the most important ones are, what the most precious ones are. In my case I think it’s clear/alert time. That time is a lot more precious than I realize, because not all time is spent in a very clear state of mind. I have to protect it with the right context, the right environment, and I have to be careful to avoid burning out. I have to pace myself. All of these are things that I have not yet developed proper systems for, despite being a working adult for 2 years. I suppose some people spend their whole lives not doing it, but I don’t want to compare myself with those people. I can only compare myself against Yesterday-Me.

What next after the audit and figuring out what’s most important (in my case, cognitive resources?) I guess then you have to decide where those resources should go. First pay attention to how much of it you have, and where you’re currently allocating it. (In my case, I’m allocating it in a very random, ad-hoc, haphazard way.

What should they be spent on? What are the highest leverage activities? What are the good things, and what are the great things, and how do you focus more on the latter? I guess in my case I have to develop things like timeboxing, scheduling. Things that I haven’t done yet, my whole life, probably because I’m scared or intimidated in some way. What am I afraid of? What’s stopping me? Accountability… I fear that I’ll be revealed to be a fraud and a failure, that I can’t actually do the things that I know I should be doing.

Which, when you lay out openly on the table (and I’m sure I’ve done this before), starts to sound really silly. Because the trick is then just to focus on doing something really simple and small, and then reward yourself for having done that, and then tackle something slightly bigger. A small bite of the most important thing is far more effective, important and useful than a large bite of an unimportant thing.

I started out not really biting anything at all, and generally just following my nose at random. Now I know that the nose is an unrealiable beast, and shouldn’t be trusted. I went into a phase where I was just biting a lot of unimportant stuff. I still haven’t quite gotten around to doing the important stuff. Again, it’s irrational- important stuff is scary because if you do it wrong, you look stupid. But I shouldn’t worry about looking stupid. The people I work with don’t care. My loved ones don’t care. I should be willing and eager to look stupid, because otherwise it means that I’m just circling the same old ground, over and over and over.

So resourcefulness, eh. Ultimately boils down to taking a tiny sword and thrusting it into the little scary space in the middle of the dragon marked X.

[1] I don’t think anybody ever framed it that way for me. You need to become more resourceful to enjoy your life better. You need to learn time management to enjoy your life better. It was always a sort of obligation, always a sort of commitment, like homework. Something I had to do because somebody else said I should do it, because it was in their interests. My parents wanted me to do well in school and get a good job, because it would mean that they were successful as parents. My teachers wanted me to have good grades, because it would mean that they were successful in their jobs as teachers. Somehow nobody really seemed to frame it as a win-win (which is one of Covey’s 7 habits, init?).

I think that’s how we should frame it. That’s how I want to frame it for everybody I talk to from now on, and for myself. It’s not about what you should do. It’s about who do you want to be? What makes you happy? And then what would help you achieve that? That’s all that really matters.

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