Monday, January 26, 2009

I want to do THAT! I want to do EVERYTHING!

I have this problem that everything I hear about, see, read, or just look at I want to be involved. Teach in Korea: I want to do that! Save babies in Ghana: I want to do that! Become the CEO of a Fortune 500 company: I want to do that!

You name it, and I have already, and continue to, want to do that!

I watched a video last night with Timothy Ferriss (who is quickly becoming a hero of mine) who talked about some of the amazing things he has done. (Check it out here:

I was RE-inspired to focus down and get to the nitty gritty, roll up my sleeves, and make one thing happen. However, when I sat to do it, there was a major disconnection. My hands, my mind, my very being seemed to revolt to any type of commitment to focused work. I wanted to break this cycle immediately, so I thought about it and tried to understand what that problem was.

The difference between the things that Timothy Ferriss has done and what I "want to do" all the time seemed glaringly obvious. The things I throw my affections to would demand a life-time commitment and total life changes. The things he has done, and continue to do, are short, time-bound things...goals.

I have found that most of my goals are really multiple lives I wish to live! I want to live these lives of being a hero to Haitians, or a corporate consultant, or an Indiana Jones-style academic, or a military commander and warrior, or a politician. They are ongoing lifestyles with ongoing demands. They are careers.

I wince to say this out loud, but,..I...uh...gasp...hrm...I do not want a career or a set lifestyle.

How freeing it is to admit that I am not woven like that!
How freeing and inspiring it is to just say, "wow. I really do not like too many lifelong commitments."
Marriage, absolutely.
My faith, most certainly.
Lifelong learning, of course!

Now it seems clear that my inability to commit is my fear that any one thing would become a life with demands that would trap me forever.

In his talk, Ferriss then speaks of what has become to be known as The Parkinson's Principle: The perceived complexity of work will expand to consume all the alloted time given to complete it.

Blah blah blah.
Paraphrased, it states that 'Work Expands to Fill the Time Allotted." I have heard this in a multitude of other self-help materials, but for the first time the revelation of the importance of this rule struck me cold.

These "goals" with their demanding lifestyles that seem like they would take my entire existence can be deconstructed. (Another Ferriss phrase.)

First, they do not have to be lifestyles as I perceive them. I should therefore parse out what things I believe ARE my lifestyles (usually these are more like Values than anything, but they can be more tangible as well.)
Second, I should identify what about those goals I value. I should do this so that I can S.M.A.R.T. them.
Third, I should also be sure to find the provisions necessary to underwrite these goals, so I should S.M.A.R.T. creating streams of income, and this become a first priority.
Fourth, using Parkinson's Law, I should set a very short, very intensive time demand on myself (and/or my team) to accomplish the provision goals.

AH! Timothy Ferris, though you are ruefully shrewd, I cannot help but like you! (If you have read his book, The 4-Hour Work Week, you may have a better sense of what I mean.)

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