Monday, January 04, 2010

What is The Thing?

With each passing year (Happy New Year, btw), and each passing job, I've come to realize that--with humans--the Thing is never really about the Thing. An angry toddler isn't mad that you gave him apple juice, he's mad that he feels woozy after a really long nap. A theatre director doesn't really hate a particular costume, he just can't get that actor to stop messing with his hands. You don't really hate that guy in his S.U.V., you just don't like being cut off in traffic (and the subsequent feelings of being out of control of your environment).

I am a big believer in Socrates' maxim that "an unexamined life is not worth living." (Therefore, I blog?) I think it's important to take a closer look at why you have made certain decisions or taken specific actions. Especially if that activity makes you sad or angry. Something is going on and it's probably a lot deeper than the incident that sparked those reactions. Do you really think that grocery checker wanted you to have bruised bananas?

With all the resolving going on these days--what with the new year and new decade and all--I came across a interesting excercise in John Mora's Triathlon 101
(more on that project later), to help determine why you decide to pursue a certain goal. He suggests you start a list of reasons for why you are doing something, maybe 5 items or so, and then keep coming back to the list and try to come up with 50 different reasons. By really thinking about your motivations, you get closer to the true reason you are doing something and also can deepen your resolve to see it through (or, perhaps, you'll see that the activity isn't such a good idea after all and should be let go).

See what you come up with...sometimes the big, overall reason is obviously #1; sometimes the true rationale for change is more sneaky. Why do we decide to "resolve" anyway, especially if it's the same resolution every year (and, therefore, never achieved)? Maybe it's time to tweak the goal or even discard it. OR, better yet, by looking at what you are trying to change, you will discover what you really want to do and can set that as your goal.

Anyway, I thought it was an intriguing exercise. I hope you all (in the Northern Hemisphere) are keeping warm--I resolve to go put on another layer...



6 comments:

TINA VAUGHN said...

Ah the timing of this post.

I completed graduate coursework over four years ago for my M.S. in Sociology. Took the thesis route. Long story short, I executed a pretty impressive qualitative study, wrote a mighty fine first draft and...lost steam.

Not really steam for life, steam for academia. I was back to full-time mom for my youngs ones and enjoying the Peter Pan nature of our life.

The pile under which my thesis research was buried became deeper and the material foggy in my head as the mental distance expanded.

Now, after being promoted recently to director at my non-profit, I feel compelled to tie up the loose ends.

Frankly, I could care less about the M.S. following my name...ever.

Sure, on the one hand, I'd love to be DONE...to have finished but I'm only motivated, at this point, because of my new position.

Hmmm...I need to get to that exercise quick, as I find myself working it all out in your comments section.

So...thanks for the post.

I have my work cut out for me but at least I have direction :)

YogaGal in the NW said...

Wow. Great post and an exercise I'm willing to try.

Thanks for the challenge.

Happy New Year!

and GOOD LUCK TINA!!! GO GO GO! YOU CAN DO IT! Just thought a little cheering from the peanut gallery wouldn't go amiss!

TINA VAUGHN said...

Thanks for the cheers "Peanut Gallery"...I'll take all I can get :)

Nicole said...

Thanks for your blog, which I have been reading for the past few weeks. As I was considering resolutions this year, I too found the value of looking for the underlying aspects of a goal. I wrote about it here: http://nicolebecker.wordpress.com/2010/01/02/resolutions-do…ive-up-give-in/

Emma said...

a fitting post for now... and all year long.

Brenda P. said...

Tina--I am overdue--but I'm wishing you much fortitude and self-discipline with the thesis. It's a drag coming back to something, but I think it will be much more useful to you done than just a pile. Who knows, as you go back thru everything, you might fine your time off has given you some new perspective. I'm with the Peanut Gallery on this one--You go, Girl!