Over the years, one phrase started to help me a lot: “forward movement”. It is a question I can ask at the end of a day: “did I have move forward today”?. The subject of the question is often a project or a goal. The question itself is quite liberating.
Liberating? Yes. You cannot do your life’s work in one day. You cannot finish a model railway in one day. You cannot paint an entire house in one day. But you can move forward on one or more of them! “Did I put in time and effort to move one of my higher-priority items forward?” Or even “did I do a load of small things that in themselves aren’t terribly important but that kept nagging at me”?
I have three main areas/goals I want to put some real effort into this year. A year is a long time. You can do a lot in a year, provided you don’t try to do it all in the last few days of the year!
One of the three goals is the deliberately vague-sounding “lose mass”. My body mass should go down. But also the amount of paper/books/saved items/junk in the house should go down. And the backlog of I-should-read-it-one-day magazines. And… And… And… Lots of things can be placed under this banner.
Now… I can aim for perfection in one of the areas. Or I can aim at progress. Forward movement. “Practice progress over perfection” is a quote I recently saw. Nice.
Some progress I made:
I went to my thursday evening swordfighting lessons again for the first time in three months. Sore muscles all over, so that ought to help a tiny bit in getting my body mass down. Someone stabbing you with a knife or aiming a sword at your stomach tends to make you pretty active :-) I’m always drenched with sweat afterwards.
Yesterday I emptied out my overflowing email inboxes.
This morning I emptied my backpack (which I use for my laptop) of three months of accumulated papers and assorted bits and pieces. This gave me a surprisingly good feeling. Opening the bag and looking at the tidy interior instead of at a pile of cumpled papers…
The mess apparently had “mass” as it put a weight on my shoulders (figuratively) just by me looking at it every morning and afternoon.
I cleaned out my desk. And found a couple of scribled down TODO items that I’ve now placed in my GTD system. Again: a bit of weight left my shoulders this way. Unconsciously you know there might be unfinished business lurking in the pile of papers on your desk.
I’m still amazed at the joy I now have in opening my backpack :-) Forward movement is great.
My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.
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