Note: This post has been automatically imported from my old blog. Formatting may be incorrect.
I have a post planned where I go into detail about the work I've put in over the past 5 years (especially in therapy) to build better habits and attitudes around productive work. For now, though, I just want to share a small victory that I feel exemplifies the progress I've made and what I hope, based on the past year or so, will be my new normal.
Several ATLOSCons ago, I gave two talks that I didn't prepare for, and they were frankly terrible. I knew it at the time, and after getting feedback on the talk I decided I wouldn't propose another one unless I had already written up a full outline for the talk. I just submitted my first class proposal, and will hopefully be leading a discussion group this May about being an Objectivist in open source software communities.
On the surface, this doesn't seem like all that big of a deal. After all, in all that time I've been building a good life for myself, achieving a lot of planned goals and doing a lot of useful productive work, much of which was much harder than preparing this talk. So why is this special?
Proposing this class was not directly necessary for any of my longer term goals. It didn't help me advance in my career, build my home, etc. I wanted to do it, and I think presenting will add to my life, but I could have easily decided not to with no direct consequences or even a feeling of having let myself down.
I had to break up the task into chunks worked on over time, with individual chunks not being trivial or busywork. I did not save it all until the last minute, I did not scramble, I did not half-ass any step.
My personal standards were higher than my requirements, and I still met them. I didn't have to do any brainstorming or research, and certainly didn't have to write up an outline, just to submit the proposal. I could have easily skipped those steps and told myself I'd finish them before the talk (and I might have been right), but I kept to my own goals.
I didn't happen to naturally fall into a place of intense focus or productivity for any of the work. I made a plan and decided when I wanted to work on each part, and when the time came I had to overcome inertia and a desire to put things off. I did so, and did so without making myself miserable, finding a way to value the work in the moment.
I've had a lot going on since deciding to give the proposal a shot, including traveling for a funeral and two weeks on an overnight shift. I could have very easily decided not to do it this year, and have been perfectly reasonable to do so. And I didn't let it add to my stress and overall it made my month better
And the best thing about all that? It's about how I reasonably expected things to go, based on the progress I've made. I wasn't certain, but I would have been more surprised if I hadn't gotten everything finished than if I had. So, yeah, it seems small, and in the scheme of things it is, but I really feel like I will be able to look back on this little achievement as a sign of a new phase in this area of my life.