Wednesday May 25, 2016

Discouraging scale of final effect.

Once I attended a course on CAD designing. At the very beginning teacher showed me something amazing: a picture illustrating what we will be able to do having this course finished. Seeing that picture I was not only amazed, but discouraged - because it had looked so sophisticated (!). It was hard to believe: how on Earth I could learn all that stuff? ;) So it was a little bit disheartening for me ;) . But of course I took the challenge and began classes.

Over the time either I forgot this concern or... I didn’t have time to worry ;) (being involved in various lessons, achieving subsequent steps).

“(...) if you think in terms of, how am I going to get this whole gigantic job done, it can be daunting. So the point is, don’t look at it that way. Think in terms of taking a step (...).”
(Richard Stallman, Free Software, Free Society: Selected Essays of Richard M. Stallman)

It was obvious I gained more and more knowledge... finally to the point where that “final picture” wasn’t so impressing - it didn’t look like hard to achieve anymore.

This experience (and others alike) illustrates something important, something what helps me in everyday life, when I’m dealing with process of achieving anything. There may be similar associated, discouraging thoughts - like, for example: “How it would be possible to achieve this - it looks like there is so much work/effort involved (!)”, “It could take years before I’ll complete this (!)”, etc.

Dark room.

The beginner perspective (when You are about to take the very first step on Your way to accomplish something big, serious or complex) sometimes may provide discouraging vision of the overwhelming final effect. It seems to be so far away from Your present level (of knowledge or skills), so distant... and in the same time it may look like something pretty difficult.

I think all those feelings are natural and have their basis in the simple fact of ‘the-Unknown effect’. Whatever it is - if You don’t know it yet, You don’t know what to expect, You can’t feel safe, secure and comfortable. But when You already have some particular knowledge - You feel quite differently, because of the lack of the Unknown. No questions remained, but quite a lot of already answered.

You could visualize this as being in the dark room. You don’t know where You are, how small or large is this place, how many potential obstacles are on Your way, and so on. So if You would like to start moving, probably You will be very careful, You will be avoiding fast moves, and so on. But what about when somebody turns the light on? The situation has been completely changed and now You can move freely and comfortably. And what’s more important: now You know real size of the room, You know where there are furniture over which You could stumble, and where You could sit and relax. You feel safe.

When excitement may disturb You.

Furthermore, while You are in the process of achieving something (new knowledge, skill, task or another complex goal), You can encounter more surprising obstacles: impatience and/or difficulties in prioritizing.

Interestingly, impatience may arise out of... excitement (!). The more You feel excited - the easier You could become impatient, eager to achieve the whole task - immediately, best at once. And You don’t want to wait, You don’t feel comfortable waiting until You passed all the necessary steps before You complete.

This way You could also have problems with prioritizing, choosing what to do today in terms of the Big Picture. What to choose - when the final result is so tempting and calling You, like stunningly beautiful sirens :) ? Whenever You think You could select one particular thing - all the rest is coming to Your mind, calling Your attention! All of them look so attractive - so that is easy to involve with endless inner dialogue on “why not to choose something else”?

Both impatience and prioritizing issue may stop / refrain You from taking action. Or - if You take action - those things can be disturbing to You. It would be much better just to be involved in achieving Your goal - step by step, optimally and effectively, and, moreover: with pleasure, comfort and satisfaction.

What may help?

For example, You can derive satisfaction out of the awareness that every step - no matter how small - undeniably leads You towards Your goal. So in this context it doesn’t matter so much what order You take.

“(...) it doesn’t really matter what order you do the things in, at least technically it doesn’t. You’ve got to do them all anyway.”

“So don’t think in terms of the size of the whole job; think in terms of the piece that you’re going to do.”
(Richard Stallman, Free Software, Free Society: Selected Essays of Richard M. Stallman)

It also doesn’t matter how many other tasks are still remained - because You can do one single task at a time anyway (in fact, multitasking can be much less effective).

“Scientists now know that the brain is incapable of paying attention to two things at the same time. What looks like multitasking is really switching back and forth between multiple tasks, which reduces productivity and increases mistakes by up to 50 percent.”
(Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking)

Since I can be involved in only one task at a time - and I care a lot about my goals - what I really want is to be as much focused on my current activities as possible, without even single thought on other tasks - which won’t get away though.

“I learned to not worry so much about the outcome, but to concentrate on the step I was on and to try to do it as perfectly as I could when I was doing it.” (Steve Wozniak, iWoz)

And what about excitement referring to all the remaining tasks? You can simply remind Yourself that usually every step You need to achieve is exciting (!). When we do what we love, I think more often we deal with exciting tasks than not really. But even if some not really thrilling step occurred - avoiding it won’t help - because You need to carry it out anyway.

Moreover, in some cases there is a substantial connection between various steps - stem out of logic succession of subsequent levels of advancement. In those cases it wouldn’t be even reasonable to skip anything - because that would cause some “holes” within Your Big Picture; occasional lack of knowledge may seriously influence further levels of deepening it - damage them or even make them inaccessible to You.

“Throughout my career at Apple and other places, you always find a lot of geeks who try to reach levels without doing the in-between ones first, and it won’t work. It never does. That’s just cognitive development, plain and simple. You can’t teach somebody two cognitive steps above from where you are (...).” (Steve Wozniak, iWoz)

So if You care about the Big Picture, if You want to be strongly rooted in the future vision of Yourself (instead of tottering state) - it may help You to remember that while dealing with not necessarily exciting tasks You can remind Yourself that they also lead You to the desired, exciting effect, and that way they are also its genuine ingredient.

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