I have plenty of bad habits.
Yep. Big surprise, right? Fortunately, I’m aware of, at least, some of them.
Nope. Not talking cigarettes or needle use or online dirty pictures.
I’m referring to mental habits.
Things that keep me from doing all the things I want to do. Many of them, I want to bring to you. But instead, they get sacrificed to the time hungry beasts of these bad mental habits.
Right now, two are causing me a lot of problems.
The first villain is mistaking Velleities for Goals.
Velleities are those, “wouldn’t that be nice if I…” kinda desires that don’t get much further than the wishing stage.
Oh, sure, sometimes they get onto a to-do list, but rarely further that—a preliminary poking about for information.
Idle wishes is another name for them.
These are different from fantasies or pure wishes. The kind that never makes it from brain to fingers to even warrant a note or reminder, let alone making it all the way to a todo item.
Fantasies/pure wishes float about the brain for a bit, then blow away. Sometimes never to return, other times flitting through your attention a moment, generating a flash of excitement only to flitter off once again.
Velleities are far more pernicious.
They make it down to paper, legal pad, post-it note, or software.
They have a physical nature.
They goad you whenever your eyes find them again. Mocking perhaps, or causing a twist of disappointment in or anger at yourself. Perhaps both.
This dismay might inspire a little work.
An hour or two today, perhaps more tomorrow, before sinking back down into the great ignored mass of all the things you told yourself you wanted to do.
This all clogs you up.
Leeches away time from actual goals, things that would help you, because these are just fancies, fleeting desires.
I have LOADS of them. Pages of them. They hector me and nag me, mocking me at times.
- Reading the complete Western Cannon.
- Relearning German.
- Getting my rusty Spanish up to fluent.
- Learning Russian.
- Mastering cooking.
- Planning out a week’s menu on Sundays
- working out to get the body of Adonis (more of a Fantasy-wish that has lingered for 30 years, but I have joined gyms.)
- creating a “read by Author” version of A Perfect Blindness
- while I’m at it, a “read by Author” version of Solitude of the Knight, a family saga—my unpublished master’s thesis
The actual list is about 5 legal pad pages long.
Some are useful, others are fun, but most won’t happen. Not as things stand.
So, dabbling at velleities prevents me from doing something—like this, right now—writing this post for everyone.
This is part of my goal of reaching out and developing relationships with you, folks. Turning people ontouseful, entertaining things that I find.
To make people’s—your—lives better.
In some small way, at least.
And I can’t do this while fighting the fancies and idle wishes for time.
There is a truism that applies here exceptionally well:
you do what you actually want.
This is a variation on the money talks, bullshit walks saying. One can talk all one wants about wanting to do something, about how they’re going to do it, but how someone actually spends their time is what they want to do. More than anything else.
Sure, it can be making money, hanging with friends, spending time with one’s family.
Just as it can be getting to zero in one’s inbox, or replying to every FB post or tweet, or binge-watching whatever the hell show or YouTube channel.
You spend your time doing is what’s most important to you. It’s what you genuinely want to do, more than what you dream of, plan on, talk about.
Because I’ve realized the truth of this, I often turn its light at the first villain, which usually leads to taking stock:
Sorting what matters from what would be nice if I didn’t have to work at it—‘cause I know I won’t really ever put in the work.
Sounds great, right? Applying what I know to a known bad habit.
Except that it leads directly
The second villain—over-organizing
See, I know making lists, sorting things, organizing plans, and prioritizingthings are essential. I even enjoy doing it.
So much so, I spend more time organizing than I do getting anything done.
Really, over-organizing is a form of procrastination.
A pernicious one in that, I am getting something done.
When I’m finished organizing,
- I’ve cleared the fog
- I have a path to follow
- I know what to do next, YES!
Course now, it’s too late in the day to do anything.
Then the next day, I’ll notice something is out of order.
Clearly, I need to make sure I’ve not forgotten anything, and from that scouring of things to do is born yet another a list.
Which needs to be organized, prioritized.
Which then has to be integrated with the lists I already have, putting first things first, listing items in order execution.
Then another day has passed by without anything getting done.
And so on until a week, month, season has passed, full of activity getting ready to start doing things.
Still, I know what I need to do and in what order. Isn’t that something real?
- It’s an illusion of accomplishment.
- It’s mistaking activity for achievement.
- It’s an insidious poison that kills time: the most foul murder of all.
This reminds me of the two opposing philosophies of three fantastically successful people: Branson vs. Buffett & Gates.
Richard Branson has a philosophy of “Screw it, let’s do it!” and so, he’s into everything and succeeds all the time. Virgin everywhere. (He calls the companies “Virgin” because he’s never done whatever before.)
Warren Buffet and Bill Gates have the opposite philosophy:
“There will always be an unending supply of opportunities, things to do, causes you care about, and on and on. Knowing when and how to say no to projects, social invitations, and other requests or your time frees you up to focus on objectives that matter.”Justine Bariso for Inc.
In other words, “knowing when and how to say no is a powerful weapon because it helps you to maximize your time, and focus on the things that matter most to you.”
So, what’s a poor boy (or girl) to do?
Don’t know about you, but I don’t have an army of well-paid folks that can run a few dozen projects for me. I doubt I ever will, so I’ll let Branson’s philosophy sit in a file on my desktop. At the same time, I apply the no saying philosophy of Buffet and Gates.
At least try to.
That decided and potential project winnowed down, still leaves me with the problem of actually getting things done. Which leads me to the one performance-enhancing philosophy that actually has worked for me:
The Two-Step Performance Plan
The two steps are impossibly simple:
- sit your butt in a chair
- get something done
Not getting coffee, or taking out the garbage, or organizing things so you can pick the best thing to do, but doing something that will let you put a checkmark by, or strike through one of the things you need done.
Doesn’t matter how small.
That’s it. Two steps.
I’ve been shocked at how much I’ve gotten done merely doingthings.
Sure I’ve tried other plans and techniques, but this is stupidly simple and crazy powerful.
What am I Two Stepping to Completion?
Walking the Darkmaker’s Way is in beta reading. Through the FaceBook group, this email list and now critters.org. Not sure when I’ll hear back on that, but the ms. is in the queue.
If you want to join that esteemed group of beta readers, grab part one below. SAMPLE here:
No serious commitment. Just reading fun. If you want more after that, let me know, and I’ll get you hooked right up.
That and blasting through the final few files of the World Bible for The Book of Visions. Just today, I wrapped up a big chunk on the afterlife and funeral rituals, and how they relate to magic, thegods, and the ancient Tlacamati race.
Listening to audiobooks to see how they work, and having fun with one by Andy Peloquin: Book one of the Queen of Thieves box set. A “Grimdark, Swords and Sorcery Fantasy Thief Adventure.” A lot of classic tropes being tossed around with flair.
Seeing if I might want to take a stab at narrating A Perfect Blindness. Yes, Warren and Bill, I know. I’m just taking a look. Nothing more.
Thanks for reading,
As always Let me know what you’re thinking—I’d love to hearEven hit up wlancehunt.com for the latest news
And if you want to get stuff like this delivered straight to your inbox, drop your email right below, and get free stuff. First thing is me reading a standalone scene from Solitude of the Knight, a family saga.