Deciding whether to stick with something or not: is it failure?

A friend recently suggested that I listen to a new podcast (The Life Coach School), and this episode in particular.

In this episode, the host outlines a program she just launched called Monday One. She transparently explains that her and her team created this program by examining how it is that she gets so much amazing work done in her life, and teaching others to do the same.

I was struck by this: she is telling everyone to do what she does because it works for her.

The truth: it will probably work amazingly well for some people. Others will work better using a different system.

Now, I’m not saying she shouldn’t market her own system. Indeed, I bet it is helpful. To some, maybe many.

But this is why we should consider the tools available to us. Where we are not achieving to the level we want to be, we should look for solutions. We should try out things we think will work, but accept if the first isn’t the best for us.

Of course, this way of thinking could be used as an excuse for not following through on everything. So, how do you decide that something really isn’t for you vs. that you should try harder?

I am reminded of the book Mastery by George Leonard. In suggests that if you want to master something that would benefit from you having a guide/mentor/teacher, you first set about choosing the right person. You take great care in this task. Who have they worked with before you? What are the results? Will you work well together? Etc.

Then, once you choose to work with someone, you follow their guidance whether you want to or not. You surrender to them to turn you into a master, trusting their judgment and not your desire to stop or to do something different.

I think the carryover is to try tips and tools, and if you decide something is beneficial to you, then you stick with it even when you don’t want to.

For example, when I started working for myself, I started writing down bullet-point notes at the end of each week reflecting on my lessons learned that week. After a couple of months I stopped. I have returned occasionally, but not enough to make it useful. I am recommitting to this practice because I know that it will benefit me later, even though I won’t want to stick with it.

On the other hand, I have tried time blocking as recommended to me (marking what I would do during specific times of the day). For weeks I had my whole calendar marked up. I hated it, didn’t do what was marked down, and then felt guilty about it. Instead, each week I write out the days of the week, mark down what I have scheduled at specific times, and then start adding in the other things I want to do for the week. Usually I choose what day I will do the tasks, but I also have an ‘other’ column for things I want to do during the week but have not decided what day. At the end of the week, I usually have arrows moving things from early in the week to later in the week. And a few things usually carry into the next week. Nonetheless, I feel it is a good tracking system for me. Some (like the podcast host) might say that in this way I am not being true to myself. Yet, I am generally okay with my level of productivity, things come up in my work that I must address in that instance, and I feel that I’m doing well all things considered.

Oh, and I bet you want to know what Monday One is? (The system touted in the podcast). The gist was that you spend the first hour (or few hours) of your week writing down everything you want to get done during the week. Then you schedule it all into your calendar and throw away the paper. Then you do the things on your calendar for the precise time you allotted. Even if you are not done with the task, you move to the next.

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