Monday, January 11, 2010

Eyes on the Prize

So far on this set of lifehacking ideas, I've hit upon:

  • Begin with reasonable expectations. If that means finishing one task every day or making sure one part of the house is clean every day, so be it. You've made a start.

  • Focus on what you're doing, and make lists that you can actually complete. Use this as a way to clean up the "stuff" in your life.

  • Don't obsess. Take the moments where you want to play with an all-eclipsing thought and find a way to bring your focus back to what's important, what needs to be done in the here and now. Beyond that, find a way to take the negative and find the positive. And in all cases, remember the positive.

  • Grok things. Don't just hear them. Grok them.

Ultimately one of the things this really comes down to is keeping your eyes on the prize. It's a cliché, I know, but it's a useful one. The prize can be any number of things, whether it's a clean house, finished projects, happy kids, a healthy relationship, saving money, traveling, achieving a professional goal, starting a business, cooking a meal, making yourself and other people happy. It could even be all of those things.

It all comes down to follow-through, whether small or large. I can't emphasize that enough. It's something that I've tried to instill in the kid — every day before school, she feeds the pets and makes her bed. It's small stuff, but making a habit and routine out of it has proved remarkably useful in the larger picture. If you move to the larger picture, it comes down to something I haven't always been good about in the past — committing to a plan. Once you commit to something, you must follow through with it, and any misgivings must be worked out and put aside — much like the obsessions mentioned above.

At a personal level, here's what it comes down to... I've screwed up a lot in my life. There have been a lot of things I haven't owned up to and mistakes I've made. I've made lots of promises without really knowing how to make said-promises happen. I've hinted at things that I knew in the back of my mind wouldn't really happen. I've taken on obligations and then struggled with myself to follow through on the obligation. Certainly, I could get into psychological dig-downs of this stuff, but talk is cheap. It comes down to action.

I don't want my daughter or anyone else in my life to have to pick up the pieces or wonder why I didn't do what I said I was going to do. I don't want to leave unrequited or unresolved hopes because I said I would do something I couldn't. I don't want my daughter to skate over to me at the rink and ask why I look sad any more. (Another story for another time.) The life-hacking I'm doing? Well, it's for me, but it's also to make my world a better place for everyone and anyone in it.