Friday, September 7, 2012

Limited Time, Unlimited Effort

Several members of the family, me included, have been struggling with challenging projects (or activities). After certain amount of frustration we wonder whether we should drop the project and move on, or stick with it a bit longer. This morning we spoke about how to go about making that decision...

I described to the boys an approach that has served me well in the past - although I must confess it is easier said than done. It is simple: decide on an amount of time you believe is appropriate to devote to exploring the project, and, during that period of time give it all you have and don't second guess yourself at all. This approach has several benefits:

- You eliminate the anxiety of second guessing yourself and pondering whether you should be abandoning the project. That analysis is left for the end of the pre-established period.

- By giving it all you have you maximize the chances of succeeding at the activity. If you fail, you will know it was not for lack of trying.

- You avoid a situation of half-hearted effort for an extended period of time, without success and without an understanding of whether you could succeed if only you gave it your best.

- You contain the risk. Suppose you want to try a jazz band but you are not sure it is the right thing for you. Rather than an open ended commitment you could start with a 90 day trial. Worst comes to worst, after 90 days you conclude you don't want to do it anymore, and move on to the next project.

What happens if you can't get yourself to devote all your energy to a project, even for a limited period of time? One conclusion might be that the project is not right for you. The other, more scary one, is that you need to work on your self-discipline... But that will be a conversation for another day.

No comments: