You’ve heard of writer’s block? Gosh, seems like I’ve had it the past couple of weeks. Can’t seem to find a topic I want to write about and can’t seem to put a coherent sentence together. It drives me crazy because I love to write. So I decided to write about writer’s block.
And once I decided that, it finally occurred to me why my head is so constipated.
Because I have “life block”.
It’s kind of the same thing but on a really really big scale. It seems that I’ve had “life block” for awhile now as well. The difference between the two, though is that in the case of writer’s block, I can’t seem to find a topic. In the case of “life block” I have too many.
Too many directions.
Not enough focus.
Sounds like a good thing, limitless options. Choose any flavor, any color, any road. It can be, but it also makes the making of a decision mucho mas difficult.
Some of you may remember back in the late 70’s when the state of Montana decided not to have a speed limit. Yep, we have such wide open roads and so few cars that it was decided that out on the interstate you could cruise at whatever mph suited your fancy that day. Do you know what happened? People hated it. Without guidelines it became very difficult to decide how far to mash the pedal to the metal. A survey found that 72% of Montanans wanted speed limits reposted on the interstates. Eventually, Montana put a maximum speed limit back into place and everyone sighed with relief.
Limitless options can be confusing without guidelines. I’ve always liked limitless options because it meant I didn’t have to rule anything out. Only by actually making a decision did I then limit life’s possibilities. But not making decisions leads to not taking action and not taking action leads to stagnation and life block.
Have you been in a situation where you walked into 31 gazillion flavors ice cream store and you simply couldn’t decide because there were too many options?
Recently, I traveled with a friend in Thailand. He had decided to move there and learn to teach scuba diving. Outstanding. But after a week or so in Thailand he started talking with people and everyone told him different things about what he should do. By the end of the two weeks of traveling, he was so confused by his limitless options, he was driving himself crazy. Should he do the instructor course, just be a dive master for a while, live in Thailand, go to Malaysia, go back to the states? Well, he finally went back to his original decision, got his instructor’s license but ended up in Malaysia. Whew.
What do I Do Now?
So how do you deal with “life block”? How do you finally choose the right flavor of ice cream or decide to drive 70 or 90mph on the rural roads of the west? Or choose where to go next with your life?
In my case I am learning to use the logic of sequential planning. First, I make myself understand that making a decision now, doesn’t mean I can’t make a different choice later. I also reassure myself that by choosing, for example, to spend the next 3 months in South America doesn’t mean I won’t ever get back to Indonesia. It just means it won’t happen in the next 3 months.
So yesterday I sat down and thought about what I want to accomplish in the next 10 years. Let’s face it, at 60 there’s a good chance I won’t be able to physically measure up to my fitness level at 50. So there needs to be some active discussion with myself on what needs to be on the now list and what can be on the later (but not the never) list.
When I asked Sharkman this question, he talked for over 20 minutes! Now there’s a guy with a lot to accomplish!
So then make the list. Write it down. Brainstorm.
Now prioritize. Is there something on the list that may take 20 years to accomplish? Perhaps that needs to be closer to the top. What can you do now given your financial responsibilities? What can you literally mark off the list in the next week? What have you always wanted to do before you were 30? 40? 50? 60? Before the glaciers melted?
Once everything is prioritized, you can begin to see the roadmap of the next 10 years of your life. You start to see a plan, a path, a framework. You see that you have not limited yourself to choosing between one thing and another. You’ve only chosen the timing of everything on the list. Start sequentially working on the goals.
Keep it Down
The key here is to only take on one or two of your projects to begin with. This keeps you focused and keeps you moving forward in accomplishing what you’ve set out to do. If you take on too many, then you begin to creep towards “life block” again.
Keep your priorities straight, move forward one or two things at a time until you stand on the podium of accomplishment. Celebrate. Then move on.
You CAN Do it All!
Sequential planning, while the idea is basic enough, has been a great revelation for me in understanding that making decisions doesn’t mean limiting myself. It means that I can accomplish all the amazing adventure plans I have in my life. It means that now I have a framework for the timing of them all. I can look down the list and know it can and will all be accomplished, that “life block” will not stand in my way. What a great feeling!
How do you handle “life block”?