Monday, January 12, 2009

A Job Begun Is A Job Half Done


As I walked to the gym at dawn this morning (6 miles walking = less petrol used + less money spent + more calories burned) I was listening to a podcast called iProcrastinate. Useful stuff, and I’d like to share.

Recently I have been puzzled by my own behaviour. I spent a lot of time during November and December evolving my strategy for 2009, in collaboration with experts on the environment, public relations/media, political campaigning, and human psychology. I ended up with what is, in my humble opinion, an excellent plan for an initiative that will tackle our top-priority environmental issue from the bottom-up, the top-down, with an element of education in the middle.

Then the calendar ticked over into 2009, and my plan went from being “next year” to being “this year” – and what happened? Did I launch myself into the execution of my detailed plan with my customary enthusiasm, energy, and “just-do-it”-iveness?

No. I froze. I fiddled around. I faltered. In short, since Jan 1, I’ve been procrastinating.

Some of it is justifiable – “I’ll wait until people get their feet back under their desks” or “People’s email inboxes will be swamped – I’ll wait until the New Year’s rush has died down”. Even eating became a form of procrastination – after all, you can’t change the world on an empty stomach.

But my inability to JFDI (Just… Do It) was starting to stress me. So, to tackle the problem, I’ve been trying to understand what’s going on here. The iProcrastinate podcaster sees it this way: procrastination is an existential issue. We have a vision of where we want to be – our “intention”. And we have where we are now – our present “action”. And ideally we exercise our free will to direct our present actions towards our future intention.

So my actions now should be the implementation of my Grand Plan for 2009 – rather than regular visits to the refrigerator. (Calories burned by walking to refrigerator < calories consumed while at refrigerator.)

What really struck home was when the podcaster suggested that the biggest obstacle to linking action to intention is the fear of failure. If you don’t try something, then you can’t fail at it – except, of course, that not even trying is the biggest failure of all. He talked about finding the courage to overcome that fear.

Now, although I am not the most courageous of people, I am also not the most cowardly. And although my plan is big and ambitious, so was rowing the Atlantic. This brings me back to the tipping point idea again. I am now at the point where: stress at NOT getting on with it > the stress caused by just doing it.

OK. (Sigh.) I know this is going to be a lot of hard work, but as the first guy to swim the English Channel said, nothing great is ever easy.

So… watch out world, here I come. 2009 is now officially underway, and it’s time to JFDI!


Other stuff:

Thank you very much to all who came to my presentation at the Presidio Yacht Club on Saturday night. (Photo of me with Ray DiFazio, one of the members of the band.) There was a fantastic turnout – the room was crammed, and I don’t think it was all due to the promise of dinner (which was excellent, incidentally – my compliments to the chefs).

A lot of people came up to me afterwards with questions, requests for photos, and promises of financial support. To those people, and anybody else who would like to help me make this year’s plans a reality, you can donate in any of these ways:
- via PayPal here, or
- online to the Blue Frontier Campaign (making sure to choose my project from the drop-down box), or
- by check to The Blue Frontier Campaign, P.O. Box 19367, Washington, D.C. 20036. Please make sure that the check is clearly marked in the memo field as being for Roz Savage, and indicate if you would like a letter of receipt for tax purposes. (The Blue Frontier Campaign is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.)

Thank you!
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4 comments:

  1. Anonymous8:56 am GMT

    Roz,
    I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one with the "P" problem. If not for that, I'd be ruling the world right now. But if it helps, consider just tackling your plan one objective at a time rather than the whole enchilada. It will save you mental stress. Remember the plan never survives contact with the enemy.

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  2. Roz, please know you're not alone. We all do this. It's that burning fire - the voice that says JFDI - that gets us past the inertia. And once you get started, you'll be on your way. I agree with Anonymous, above - just take it one baby step at a time (or one stroke at a time, as the case may be). Remember to reward yourself each day with a compliment on how great it is that you took that one (or more) step. Re-live the feeling of great it felt to be taking a step forward so that you crave more of the good feelings. In other words, use reward as a way to motivate rather than making yourself wrong for having procrastinated. (Oh, and sometimes procrastination is a blessing in disguise btw...)

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  3. /me gives you a supportive hug. Very good post, it really gets a person thinking. I relate to what you're saying. I sometimes feel like I put myself in a box, like 2 years ago when I announced to all friends, family, and aquaintances that I was "going Vegan". I went on and on about it, and everyday, every meal was my big statement to the world, and I was going strong on huge enthusiam and then, after a while, I noticed I was getting more stressed out by having to live in the box I put myself in, my lofty goals, coupled by my deep concerned for all farm animals of the world. It got stressing, very stressing, I'm still struggling from this experience!

    For you the pressure must be enormous, you've proved you can do it, you've rowed solo across the Atlantic, and from California to Hawaii.You're doing it to save the world, no less. You've got media attention, thousands of fans, documentary film makers doing films about your journey, Leo's podcasts, public speaking engagements.... wow, it's really amazing when you look at the whole picture. Does it all get overwhelming at times? Do you ever feel like, ok, now you've told everyone you're going to row the second leg of the project, what if you just don't feel like it? Now what? Is not doing it even an option?

    Watching all that you're doing, I never thought about these things that you might be going through on a psychological level. Thank you for sharing this with us, this is very interesting. I don't feel so bad about my own procrastination.

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  4. Anonymous11:55 am GMT

    Hi Roz,

    How funny you mention the procrastination in your post because I've been reading and thinking a lot about planning, NY effect I guess, and how to follow it, recently.

    From the things I've understood from my reading, the authors adviced us to follow the plan after it has been thought without worrying about success or failure, which is kind of emotional attachement to the plan.

    Stick to the plan and the routines that have been created in order to realize the plan, the rest is irrelevant.

    Does it ring any bell, Sensei?

    Andy K

    PS: Enjoy San Fran, I love that city!

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