It is Saturday. I woke up this morning and thought about all of the things I didn’t get done this week. I feel very unproductive. As mentioned last time, I have been reading The Energy of Money by Maria Nameth. She has a chapter late in the book about abundance and gratitude. Without over-simplifying too much, she basically argues that “abundance is the totality of life,” the sum of everything good or bad, more or less and wanted or unwanted.
We all know that we need ups and downs in life. Sadness makes us appreciate the good times all the more. Death reminds us to savour the life we have.
This morning I was thinking about the the areas of scarcity that trouble me the most. Not surprisingly I landed on time, money and willpower. The irony is that these “scarcities” each come directly form an abundance of choice. The can be little doubt that in North America our abundance is literally killing us. We eat too much. Drink to excess. Spend too much time consuming endless screen content. We enjoy credit that allows us to overspend without facing the consequences. We have infinite potential but have a hard time accomplishing anything because we don’t commit, because we either can’t choose or don’t want to.
In this intriguing video, Professor Renata Salecl describes the anxiety of having too many choices. As with all RSA Animate clips, this one is well worth the watch.
All of these choices can lead to what has been called “decision fatigue” as described in this New York Times article last year. It turns out that every choice you make during the day whittles away at your reserves and eventually your willpower. This explains much of the over consuming that happens after a particularly long day. A potential cure is to eliminate the element of choice and replace choices with habits. This means I should immediately put on those running shoes and head out the door before I realize I can choose not to.
Alternately, in the tricky area of eating better, a plan might be a good solution. Laying out my meals for the week on Sunday night will reduce the chance of willpower meltdown by the time I get to Thursday and just want to order pizza.
But what about all this other stuff? What do I do when I get to Saturday and feel like I haven’t accomplished anything? Does it mean I have spent my week twiddling my thumbs? Probably not. Despite my crazy busy week, the truth is that I feel like I haven’t made the progress towards the goals I feel are important. We all know how hard it is to keep your eye on the prize in a storm of emails, texts and phone calls. What if we could regularly bring ourselves back to our real priorities? In his book Enchantment: the Art of Changing Minds, Hearts and Actions Guy Kawasaki argues we should make a list because it focuses people of doing, not deciding.
My problem is I am doing but not deciding. I deal with whatever lands on my desk first, or is pretty or just feels good. Maybe instead I could have a list of five things I want to work towards this week: exercise, eating better, good financial choices, able parent and concept incubator and ask myself regularly during the day if what I am doing feeds these goals. This would keep me focussed on my priorities and also serve to boost my sense of accomplishment when that is true.
What about you? What five things would you like to focus on this week? Or do you have a better plan to keep your dreams on track.