While I’m packing my things and head home, I realise that I haven’t really made time for my main project today. I was busy with many important things, but now I feel like I’ve let my future self down. I leave the building, deep in thought, then pause for a second. I look at my phone, it’s 7 p.m. and I still have some time left. It’s not much, but I can at least concentrate on it, so that it doesn’t leave my mind entirely. I keep walking and feel more alive with every step.
We all have something to work on, as we all have some goals in our lives (check out my article on goal setting). Of these, one goal is very special to us and we couldn’t bear leaving it on the side. But in reality, we often do. The only question is how do we deal with this? Do we drown it in sugary drinks, loud music or excessive exercise? Or do we beat ourselves up and suffer quietly on the inside? We all do it. It’s human nature. As Alan Watts said, if you were to always be happy and at ease, you’d get bored with it and at some point say: “Enough of that, let’s have some drama!”
Yes, we humans like routine, but also we get bored quickly. So what do we do? We have things we actually want to achieve, right? There’s a few angles from which to look at it and no situation is better or worse than the other. The main point is that we step into the realm of the cloud as Uri Alon coined it for science related projects. You try to reach B starting from A, but end up getting to C in the end by passing through the most disorienting process imaginable. The cloud. Here are the phases you might experience when you are right in the middle of it. And you will be, inevitably.
– The Confused Phase –
You have enough. You just need a break from all of this and decide to take it easy. You let go of the process and just leave it alone. If anyone asks, you change the subject. You don’t even want to discuss it. Not that you don’t know what to do next, it just feels useless to put your conscious mind to it. This is the cloud of confusion. Like a magnet meeting its equal pole, you just can’t get your head around it. In this phase you can just relax and let your subconscious mind handle the logistics. The reason why you’re in it is that you need some path correction. You are going into the wrong direction in some way, so the sails need to go down for a while. Trust your intuition like a compass to give you the corrected path just in time. Follow your interest and don’t feel bad about it, chances are high that this is where the next insight is waiting for you.
– The Balanced Phase –
In this phase you are balanced to boredom. You work on everything that’s important, but in such a comfortable way, that you don’t really feel like making much progress. You can’t put your finger on it, but you feel like going nowhere. You have become content and overly patient. This contentment will lead to a very slow death, because with small incremental changes, you will start to fill your life with comfort. Since everything seems handled you feel like you’ve arrived, even though you’re still working on your goals. You get so many small pleasures and comforts that you leave less and less time for actual work. When in this phase, you must remove almost all unnecessary comforts and small addictions to see what’s below. You’ll find some demons hiding there, because all you’re doing is playing hide and seek with reality as Peter Sage says. Wake up, get uncomfortable.
– The Burning Phase –
You are really angry. You want progress and you want it now. Anger will provide all the energy you’ll need and you’re going to use it. This is the phase of zero patience. The danger? Burning out, of course. This can easily happen so the advice is very simple: Never beat yourself up for not being good enough. You will hamper your progress immensely. Take a step back and look at what you want and how you can realistically get there from where you are right now. Life is just process so you better start enjoying it.
– Conclusion –
The small steps you take every day are better than the miles you never ran. Life is all about increments, never about achievements. Increments is what the present looks like, achievements is what the past looks like and belief is what the future holds. Until then, all the best.