0341 – avoid “I’ll do it later”

I went to bed around 1120pm or so. I set two alarms- 600 and 710am. Didn’t hear the first one, woke up on the second one and was slightly more clearheaded than I usually am when I wake up. Maybe because I got more sleep. My calves were feeling sore from the previous run, and I lingered in bed I think for almost a full half hour. This is a very silly half hour that I want to stop wasting- it’s precious cool weather time.

Interestingly, I didn’t feel at all in any danger of falling back asleep. I wonder if it was the constant “when I wake up I am to immediately get up and get out of bed and go run” thoughts.

But I still lingered for 30 mins. Room for improvement. I stood around for a while but decided that I had to at least wear my shoes and go down to the track. The walk there was pleasant enough to make me want to run, and I did.

Got home, showered while watching a couple of Every Frame A Painting videos, sat still for a while, then got dressed and left for work. Now is the commute. Was feeling a little sleepy but am feeling clearer now.

On to what I had planned to write about.

“Sure, I’ll do it later” is probably one of the most toxic, damaging phrases in my vocabulary. (Lexicon? Phrasebook? Where do you keep the phrases and sentences that you use so often that they become a part of who you are?) I put things off indefinitely and I suffer greatly for it. I frustrate and disappoint the people around me and yet I never seem to do very much about it.

An impersonal reading of the situation would suggest that I either enjoy the drama and pain [1], I’m actually indifferent to the circumstances despite my frequent and extensive protests, or that I’m deeply incompetent.

In all cases I seem to be naive. If I really enjoyed it, I should shut up and enjoy it. If I enjoy the complaining that comes with the suffering, then I should own that and enjoy the complaining. But I’m so sick of that, too. I recognise that there’s something about the situation that smells funny.

I guess in short I recognise that I’m playing a losing game, and that distresses me. While life itself is ultimately a losing game in the sense that we will all die (and the Universe will, too), I don’t feel too distressed about that because there’s not very much I can do about that.

Hm. So I get stressed because I feel that I’m not doing what I could or should be doing. I feel like I’m wasting my time.

But that’s easy to say. It’s “I didn’t do well because I didn’t study” all over again. I suppose now I’m trying to study and I find that I’m struggling. In school, I could argue that I wasn’t interested in the subject matter, and I didn’t like the environment, and I didn’t like my peers. (Refinement: I somewhat liked the people I hung out with, but most of them weren’t too into studying either. I couldn’t reallly get along with anybody who took their studies seriously. So by peers I mean peers-who-studied.)

But now, in adulthood, I can’t quite use those excuses. I have my own house, I can modify my environment substantially. (I can’t really change the neighbourhood though, which is a little depressing. For now. I’m hoping and planning to move somewher cheerier as I save more money.) I go to work in a space that’s interesting, exciting. I reasonably like the subject matter, and I love my colleagues. So why am I not doing well? I’m not doing badly, but I feel like I’m not doing well. I feel like I’m not growing.

I suppose the first thing to do is to take stock, to make measurements. What do I actually expect of myself? I haven’t written these things down. I was telling my wife, I enjoy having completed a run, I enjoy having written word vomits, and similarly I should enjoy having done work.

She said, “But this brings you back to an old problem: What is done?” Because the run is clearly defined– cross the 2.4km mark. A word vomit is clearly defined– cross the 1000 word mark. How do I measure the amount of work I do at work? I don’t. And that’s probably the single biggest cause of stress in my work, maybe. I’ve talked about wanting to change this, but of course… I’ll do it later. Well, I guess I know what I’ll be spending the first 25 minutes of my work day doing.

I feel like I should be getting a minimum amount of work-related writing done a day. I should measure it probably the same way I measure these word vomits. I should just churn out as much as I can for a 25 minute tomato. I should do some minimum of X, some minimum of Y. I should have these things written down in advance and decide them in advance, the same way I go for runs without deciding each day all over again how long I want to run, where I want to run, if I want to run at all, etc. Decide in advance. Do it now.

I don’t feel like I’ve sufficiently explored the “Later” idea enough. Let’s revisit this maybe.


[1] This feels wrong to me but I recognize that it’s a valid interpretation that’s very worth taking seriously. I recently started on Games People Play- haven’t gotten too far into it yet but I’m quite excited about making sense of its ideas. My early interpretation/assumption: Drama begets drama. It keeps things predictable and familiar, and predictable familiarity, even if damaging, is less scary than doing things differently. All animals do weird things when put in circumstances that break their primal heuristics or instincts. Moths fly into flames. Cats chase lasers. Humans stay in abusive relationships and self-destructive patterns.

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