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Project Guilt

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  • Project Guilt

    Project Guilt

    I am currently Processing a stack of papers that have accumulated at home.

    I set aside some quality time on Saturday to do this. However, a large percentage of these papers consisted of time management print outs, tips, affirmations, etc; then there was a lot of stuff that really only needed to be filed or shredded, and finally there were one or two ideas for fiction writing.

    Amongst them, I have found that I have written out the usual list of suspects over a dozen times "write more, read more, lose weight (at least I got that one done) better quality family weekends," etc etc.

    I had approached this stack on Saturday with the expectation that the outcome of my processing would be a recipe for major progress on all fronts that would take me though the next five years. Instead, I find that the melody of Is That All There Is? is circling around in my head.

    Listening to and reading DA leaves me with the conviction that my life should be a stream of ongoing projects moving with Amazon-like depth and purpose towards some even more excellent future.

    But at least I have derived a few positives from the experience of the weekend:

    1. I am still just at the implementation/processing stage of GTD in relation to my personal life: in fact, sorting through all these accumulated possibilities is helping me get some clarity at higher altitudes;

    2. I have allowed an assumption to creep into my thinking about projects, and that is, that the only projects that are worthy of pursuit are those that will ultimately generate money. This has caused me to feel guilty about my non financial personal goals "to be well read in a broad range of subjects, to cultivate an attractive garden, to be familiar with great composers etc." I now realise that this assumption was a total dud as it was systematically devaluing the things that matter most to me. (My writing ambitions in particular got badly beaten up by this line of thinking).

    Bottom line, I think the problem is that I have completely devalued the things in life that mean most to me because I had evaluated them solely against financial measuring sticks.

    I guess Im not an entrepreneur at heart, but it feels like a major and somewhat risky decision to say that from now on I will not resist committing quality time to my interests. If I can just throw away the financial yardstick, then perhaps all of my projects will blossom and grow.

    All in all, I guess it was an unplanned but timely 30,000 foot experience. I suspect that these higher altitude thinking sessions can often be forced upon us by the fact that they are overdue.


  • #2
    Project guilt

    Dave, I understand your post. last October my mother was diagnosed with a serious illness and since then she has 3 hospitilazations, rehab, weekly treatments and doctors visits plus the need and my desire to be with her a lot at home. this threw work and financial matters into chaos. Finally the reality of economics got me settled down. I have to earn a living. I also have to and want to have my mother get the best medical care and have years of good living. After not going to the gym and eating horribly I finally acknowledged I have to go to the gym, stick to my eating plan because if I get sick this whole ball of wax melts.
    In regard to your post about putting financial stuff first, yes we have to earn a living. I have a commitment to my clients as well as a need to earn a living. I have a commitment and great love for my parents. I also need to keep myself going physcially and emotionally. What this has forced me to do is cut a lot of stuff out of my life but really commit to the stuff that is most important. I don't go to my symphony subscription this year. I do make my book club. I do have weekend lunches with firends and keep in touch by phone. I am going back to the gym. I did rejoin a weight loss group. I don't ride my horse, I go see her and have a friend ride her and give her a lot of attention., and come spring I will spend at least one weekend afternoon riding.
    I need ruthless discipline when I am at work. ( That is a work in progress!)
    I quess what I am saying Dave, is that all the stuff you put down that you wanted to do are great, but it you didn't work at all you would probably not get to all of that. do it all but do it serially. Pick one or two personal things you want to devote time to do and be disciplined about doing it. Review quarterly. Maybe in the spring and summer gardening is more important than listening to great music.
    good luck. I always enjoy your posts.


    • #3

      First and foremost, I hope your mother is doing ok: she is clearly going through a very intensive time, and its a huge burden for you to carry as well.

      Times like these make everything else melt into the background to reveal the foundational girders of our lives. But as you said, if we ignore the other things in our lives, they will start to remind us by dragging us down.

      We are reminded by various authors from time to time to pay attention to our main categories and to make sure we dont neglect them; otherwise we will start to suffer.

      You have had this concept uncompromisingly imposed on you. In the teeth of your overwhelming urge to be with your mother all the time, you still had to pull back, take an overview, and restore the balance. It proves that balance is not a light-weight tuning exercise it is a fundamental.

      I am grateful that my own awareness of imbalance did not come from such an uncompromising event. My central problem was that I had actively devalued some of the things that I value most in life by measuring them in the wrong way.

      In fact, since my first post, I noticed something else: not only had I mistakenly assumed that I should only follow financial projects, I had added to the problem by also assuming that everyone else on this site and in the broader world of GTD seminars thought the same way.

      So, I inadvertently loaded my assumption with social proof. Therefore at the heart of my thinking there was not only a devaluing of my interests, but also an exaggerated sense that I was going to have to blaze a new and lonely path into the realm of serious personal projects. It made pursuing my own interests feel both risky and lonely.

      But, when you think of what drives higher altitude decisions, they usually are not measured by profit they are essential life questions about who we want to be and what we want the weeks and months of our lives to be like.

      I guess its a case of keeping in touch with the true values of things in our lives, and, in GTD terms, catching these at our weekly reviews so that the appropriate actions appear on our hard landscapes.

      Thanks for sharing your story Mardo.