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peace of mind - a different viewpeace of mind - removing the guilt of broken commitme

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  • peace of mind - a different viewpeace of mind - removing the guilt of broken commitme

    I had a flash of insight into my own "peace of mind", or more accurately, what disrupts it. Here's what I think the problem is, and I'd love to hear what other think.

    I think the only path to peace for me is to not have anyone who can call me out for something I committed to, but that I haven't completed (or won't now be able to complete) within the original terms or timeline. This includes commitments I have made to myself. Those are sometimes the worst.

    This is a very subtle game. It includes late videos, being 10 minutes late to meet your friend, optimistic guess-timates of when the final budget edits will be done, and a million other little things we promise to others or ourselves, but that we realize will be delayed. Better to renegotiate early than to wait until you are late (stressing all the while). If all your commitments in their current state are ones you can keep based on your most current info, you never have to fear the ringing of the phone. You will do what you said, within the timeframe you said, and you will be at peace with yourself. No one can call you out for a commitment not kept. How do you know what counts? If you have anything where you would have that twinge of guilt if someone asked you about it, then you know what I mean.

    This is not the same as things on your lists that are not done yet, but for which no commitment has been broken yet. You haven't gotten milk yet. No big deal. It's on your errands list, and you will get it the next time you are at the store. Ah, but it you were asked to get milk, and you forgot, or you chose to do something else, then you are on the hook. Contact with that other person will generate a little piece of stress, because you know they might ask about the milk (commitment) that you didn't fulfill. Multiply that by the hundreds of things we are on the hook for, and the stress level makes a whole lot of sense. Here's what I am going to try to do:

    I will strive to only have commitments that I know I can keep. I will strive to never have to say, to others or to myself, "I know I promised, but..."

    This means I need to 1) know about all of my commitments, and 2) either keep them, cancel them, or renegotiate them. This is not just about making commitments I feel I can keep - it's about renegotiating commitments when the situation changes. People often understand when things happen, but they just want to know whatís going on. There is a very different feeling being late when you have called ahead, and being late when you are just hoping to get something done before they call to see what's up. My major stressor in my life is not saying up front when I know I am feeling iffy about something. I have a bad habit of making commitments based on hope and optimism, and not reality. It leads to avoiding the ringing phone because I know someone is looking for something I told them I would have, but it isnít done yet, and I havenít renegotiated. When I'm on top of my game and my commitments, I look forward to interactions with others. When I'm not, I avoid others. More honest, realistic commitments on the front end, and more proactive renegotiations along the way, put me at peace with myself and the world. The tools and habits of GTD seem a great way to make that happen more consistently in my life.

    Does this make sense to anyone else?

  • #2
    my 2 cents

    I think it is also okay to recognize that one can "make a commitment" to think about, explore, attempt, etc., and that these can be spelled out in the form of a range of activities that represents a degree of involvement or different styles of involvement, or specification of alternative actions (for example, a list of independent actions, any of which , when executed, would move your project along).

    What is meant by "committment"?


    • #3
      I think a commitment is something you intend to do, and especially something you are obliged to do for someone else, either due to a promise, or a sense of duty, or even a sense of guilt. I think the Someday/Maybe list plays a key role in this. It contains items for which you have said "not committed....yet". Consciously, intentionally. They don't have a piece of you. Things on the Projects list, though, are a different story.

      My goal is to not be in situations where someone can control my time and peace of mind by reminding me that I owe them something now and haven't delivered it yet. I want to be ahead of that curve by either delivering on time, or renegotiating well before the agreed-upon deadline. This goes with commitments to myself as well. I can be very nasty to myself when I don't do what I tell myself I'm going to do.


      • #4
        I think this is a valuable insight. However...

        How do you deal with people who violate this? E.g., you promise something in two weeks, but after a week and a half they demand it immediately?


        • #5
          additional thought about this (they usually appear the next morning...)

          I think this idea of peace of mind is tied up in the removal of guilt. I think this is about having some free time, and not being able to fully enjoy it because you know you are supposed to be making good on a commitment instead. Or buying something fun when you have this nagging sense that you really should be paying that bill first. This is true whether you have written down the item or not. Your brain suspects there is something there, just out of sight, unless you have captured and processed and renegotiated everything recently. Only then can you sit on the back porch, or go to the game, or go shopping, and know that everything not yet done can wait until later to get done. That's real peace of mind in my book. I have only ever felt it a couple of times, but it was almost always after a serious Weekly Review. Did I have lots to do? Of course. The key was that it was all stuff I committed to do in the future, even if that future was only later that evening.

          David speaks about how some of the best things he does are not on his lists. However, he said he is only able to respond to the opportunity to do them because he has his lists, and he knows that everything on them can wait. Otherwise, he might still do the thing, but it will be for the wrong reasons (I'm guessing avoidance). That creates guilt and failure in my mind, and those cannot exist if true peace of mind is sought. I guess that's the point I was trying to make, and the place I am trying to find. GTD has been the only workflow system that has ever gotten me to experience that place. Maybe that's why every time I fall off the wagon, I want to get back on.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Brent View Post
            How do you deal with people who violate this? E.g., you promise something in two weeks, but after a week and a half they demand it immediately?
            I think a commitment is a contract (even if it's only informal and verbal). In that sense, you have each agreed to something. This individual would certainly remind you of your agreement if you were late. I think it is perfectly fair to remind them of your agreement if they demand it early.

            Your agreement was based on your available time, quality standards, and other priorities, and, at the time, they agreed to the same thing. I wonder if their moving up the deadline is similar to someone who (reluctantly) agrees to a deadline they suspect they can't meet. I wonder if this person might have known they would want it earlier, but that they didn't have the guts to say so at the time.

            Well, either that, or they are just inconsiderate, demanding, and difficult to work with. I still think restating the "contract" is the right path, with an appropriate reminder of the quality levels or conflicting priorities or whatever else that will likely suffer if you attempt to meet the NEW deadline. You planned your work around the agreement you made so you could deliver what they asked, when they asked. I guess in the spirit of being flexible and easier to work with, you could renegotiate any they are willing to give up in order to get this in their new timeframe (shorter? rough figures instead of tight ones?)

            Ah, if we could just do our work without having to deal with the rest of it.