Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Hacking My Brain [Guilt of Pleasure and Achievement]

I'm on my second cup of coffee as I type this because I've decided that one of the things I want to take pleasure in is my coffee consumption. It's a small thing, but a very important thing when considered against today's topic. Recently I was listening to HEROINE, a podcast about women's creative leadership. If you haven't heard of it, you might want to pop on over to the link or check them out on Itunes so you can benefit from hearing about women who are doing amazing things. One of the features of the podcast is the Wisdom episodes, they're shorter and right now they're covering blocks to creative leadership. A block I struggle with quite a bit came up, guilt of pleasure. I connect it to my inability to allow myself to say I've achieved something.

It goes like this you don't want to take care of yourself because you feel like you should always be working. No matter what you've done already, you can't rest on your laurels, you have to always be achieving. This leads to a serious lack of pleasure in one's life and eventual burnout. However, that's the life I lead in a nutshell. No matter what I've done lately, I don't think I'm doing enough. Can anybody relate? In a conversation last week about my creative output, or rather lack thereof, my runner friend pointed out to me that part of the reason I may be having such a hard time creating is because my creative well may perhaps be dry due to lack of consumption. In some circles, the idea is in order to create you must consume what others create in order to have a well to draw from. If you have no ideas, don't try to write something yourself, go read something, watch something, listen to something, take in so that you can put out. I looked back over the past couple months and realized while I had been reading it was all work related. I didn't consume media for the purposes of allowing my brain to take pleasure in something. I read because I needed to learn some skill or another. (I'm planning a wedding. You can imagine how much information I've slogged through on that score. Add in the self-help books on relationships I've read and you get the picture. My nightstand looks like the self-help section threw up on it.) However, none of that helps me when you consider how empty my well was. I could no longer achieve because I could no longer write. To change thoughts, I had burnt my candle down to a nub that wouldn't even light anymore. Unfortunately, that's not the only area in my life where I've had some difficulty lately. I consider my problem with achievement a bit more deeply rooted than that. It isn't just my inability to take pleasure in getting off the hamster wheel, it is also my inability to give myself credit for what I've already done.

Case in point, I've written three books in the past year. That's no small feat according to most. However, I'm not willing to look at that and go, Wow, you worked hard. I'm looking at it going: I have how many more books that need to be written. In a lot of people's eyes, I have not only earned the pat on the back, but a day off (or three) and maybe a really nice dinner. My perception is the problem. Following up on that, I started going to the gym a month or so ago. I've been consistently two to three days a week since I started going because I try very hard to be consistent like that. However, I can't seem to give myself credit for it. In Nerd Fitness, there's a concept called 'Give Me the Loot', in which you come up with a personal system and reward yourself for your progress over the course of your work so that you don't lose motivation. I don't have a system in place. In fact, the idea of a system that rewards me for doing what I think I am supposed to be doing seems utterly foreign to me. Shouldn't one want to do something because it is the right thing to do and not to get rewards? Maybe in a perfect world that would be the case. We do not live in a perfect world, which should be no newsflash to anyone capable of reading. Therefore, in order to not give up when things are tough, I need a system of some kind in place to keep me going. I'm terrible at this sort of thing. Today, at the suggestion of another young lady on Nerd Fitness with me, I pulled out some old stickers and started putting them on my wall calendar. I have ascertained that a minimum of ten stickers (I earn a sticker every time during the month that I go to the gym) gets me a new t-shirt. I haven't decided where I'm buying the t-shirt from, but THINKGEEK or LOOKHUMAN are obvious candidates. THIS is one of my favorites. It speaks to me.

So in short, I've decided that coffee is one of the things I will not give up. It makes me happy. I will sit and sip my coffee and enjoy every minute of it. I've taken a few days off to just absorb other people's work. (I watched Victor Frankenstein which has Harry Potter and young Charles Xavier in it.) I will create a system that rewards me for doing what I know is right because its nice to be rewarded for things. (Yes, I realize that totally contradicts the post that says getting rewards doesn't necessarily help with habit formation, but it's not to help me build the habit, the habit is already there.)

1 comment:

Rebekah @ Run Away From Zombies said...

How was Victor Frankenstein? I'm will check out that podcast.

I'm not a big "reward" person either, but the shirt idea is a good one. It gives the shirt meaning that you'll remember every time you put it on, like some of my favorite race shirts.