|A simple system|
I recently hurt myself and was on couch duty for a few days. I didn't have the focus or concentration to read and there is only so much television I could stand, so a friend recommended a few podcasts to me.
Brené Brown has been a kind of hero of mine ever since I saw one of her early TED talks, so I started with her 2 part conversation with James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, on her "Dare to Lead" podcast.
There's a quote that comes from Clear's book that she referred to over and over:
"You don't rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems." (James Clear)And that has been reverberating in my mind and my soul ever since.
It's not like I didn't know about how systems are critical to the functioning of things like safe airflight (preflight checklists, anyone?) and safe surgical procedures (time outs, checklists), and I've long understood that I personally function better with a certain amount of structure in my life.
Hell, I'm great at systems. Erm.. setting them up. Following them? Not so much. If there is an organizational system out there, I've probably tried it. Even believed that it (whichever one I was taking for a spin) would be *the one*.
(Okay - you can stop laughing now.)
And it's also not like I can't be disciplined. I've accomplished a hell of a lot in my life - much of it through sheer stubbornness and dogged optimism. Grind, grit, and goals can only take you as far as the personal walls you hit.
Ooh, that's good. I think I'll repeat that for emphasis - because I'm often slow on the uptake when it comes to my own learning.
"Grind, grit, and goals can only take you as far as the personal walls you hit." (LJ Cohen)
I really believed that the wanting was enough. And that if I wasn't finishing this (%$@!) novel-in-progress, it was secretly because I didn't want it enough. *I* wasn't enough. Or I was too much. Too distracted, too depressed, too broken.
When I ran my physical therapy practice, I had structure. My available hours were limited as I shared an office with another clinician and I had a hard stop time when I needed to pick my children up from school. My work had to fit within those parameters. And it did. And it worked.
Those were the years when I also wrote an hour a day in two 30 minute chunks. Because that what my structure/systems allowed.
I learned a long time ago that limitations can help and unlock creativity, not hinder it. Case in point: I've been in a poetry rut for quite some time, so in November, I asked folks to toss me six random words for me to craft a short poem around. And it led to some remarkable pieces.
This is all to say that for more time that I'd like to admit, I've had no systems to fall back on. The why isn't as important as the fact that with no limits on my time, I drift to mindless scrolling of social media and wallow in quiet self-loathing because of it.
My goals aren't enough. Goals are a pull. I need a push.
My goals aren't enough. Goals are a pull. I need a push. That's systems. Which in my case, means building up better habits. Something the podcast explicitly talks about.
I think I need to read Atomic Habits for more specific support in creating the habits and systems that will let me find my way back to my creativity.
In the meanwhile, I'm going to further lock down my phone. I've already deleted the FB and Twitter apps from it, but there's always the browser. I have it set to so many minutes per hour and I'm going to also block it until midday. (I'm better writing in the morning.) Somehow, I don't abuse social media when I'm at the computer in the same way as I do on my phone.
And maybe that will be enough of a habit and enough of a system, at least for now.