We often talk about what we are prepared to do to make things happen or make a dream come true. We don’t often ask: what are we prepared NOT to do?… By that, I don’t just mean disengaging from time wasting activities but also not replacing time wasting activities with other activities i.e. not replacing one distraction with another.
In becoming more efficient and effective in making things happen in your work and life, see if you can identify which category of inaction would serve you best:
Category 1 inaction: Letting go of things that get in the way of the useful action that you want to take. These are what we might call “bad habits” that “waste time”. These include our engagement with things, people, places and our own negative or hypercritical thoughts that drain our energy and willpower. It requires discipline and willpower to break the momentum behind the old habit. Replacing the old habit with a new habit and rewarding yourself for that can help.
Category 2 inaction: Cutting down on your current activity levels in general to allow for more creativity and inspiration. If you decide to skip a meeting or podcast or leave work early, try not to replace it immediately. Feel the lifting of the burden and the spaciousness (mental and emotional) that is created. Revel in it. This is the basis of freedom. From this relaxed feeling (and it may take time to get used to it without feeling guilt or shame at not being “busy”), new ideas will arise that will feed into your new project/job/relationship aspiration. This process can’t be rushed or manufactured by doing anything. Yet, through this process, what may have seemed previously impossible is suddenly within reach and new possibilities arise that can get you to your destination much faster than any logical planning ever could.
Of course, there’s the question of: “Yes, but everyone else is running around, so will I get left behind?” Breaking away from social norms has a cost. However, social norms are here to keep us in line with the dominant culture, which does not necessarily serve our best interests as individuals (except for a select few) or even as a society. The amount of dissonance with dominant ideas and discomfort from standing outside group norms one can tolerate is a personal thing. It is probably a journey to undertake as we start to weigh the costs and benefits of honouring our values and pursuing what we know to be the right thing to do in our deepest heart-mind versus continuing with business as usual.
Getting clarity over when to act and when to sit is key to true effectiveness and reaching a practice of what is called in Buddhism: skilful effort or effortless effort…
1) What is your biggest problem right now?
2) How will your life change if you resolve this problem?
3) What negative feelings will be gone once this problem is resolved?
4) What would happen if you let go of those feelings right now?
5) What ideas come to you regarding the problem once you’ve let go?
If you try this, please, let me know how you get on in the comments/LinkedIn/by email.
Until next time
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