planning for freedom
why am i even doing this?
have you ever wanted to do something, so you decide you’re going to do it, and then the moment you commit to doing it, you lose interest?
me. that’s me. all. the. fucking. time.
me: “i’m going to write a book.”
also me: “blergh. this sucks. i’m going to do something important, like organize my Nespresso pods. or numb myself by reading medium dot com for a million years.”
i know i do more of what i want to do when i work with a plan
planning is great. sticking to a plan, is even better. the problem is…when i write and follow a plan, i start feeling like a robot. and i don’t want to feel like a robot. i want to operate out of my heart, not out of my day planner.
i recently tried something new
while i was writing some morning pages about this aversion i have to commitment, i wondered…what if i looked at commitment as the key to freedom. boom. life changing. i decided to explore a new definition of freedom. it’s as if something shifted in my brain for a bit. i wrote down, “I practice freedom when…” and i listed things like, “when i write down my intentions for the day” or, i practice freedom when… i choose intentional action over distraction.
and i also explored how unconscious, default thinking and reactive behavior isn’t freedom – it’s freedom’s opposite.
while it’s true i enjoy the feeling of working without a to-do list, i don’t like the feeling of an amorphous cloud of obligation hovering above me. the natural answer to said amorphous cloud is to make a to-do list. i have mastered the art of making lists. my problem is: i don’t like following the lists. i worry that organizing my daily actions around a list will make me feel like a fleshy robot. right? it’s like – the better i am at following my instructions…the…better…i…am…at…following…instructions. lame. but there are things i want to accomplish. there are things i want to do during the day. this is why i write my intentions down – so that my in-the-moment self will learn to appreciate the intentions my morning-self had.
i have mastered the art of making lists. my problem is: i don’t like following the lists.me. just now.
it’s not about the list.
the truth is, i’m not following morning-self’s orders. i’m simply honoring the intentions that my clear-brained, authentic-self set down. that’s all. it’s not about following orders – it’s about keeping priorities in focus, and directing my effort accordingly. when it comes down to it, i don’t really want to browse reddit if it comes at the cost of more meaningful accomplishment. if i went a day or a week or a year without voting up someone’s post about their new fountain pen, i’d be ok. blog posts like these are a different story: i really, really want to write them. i’m weird that way. but for some reason, i fill up my day avoiding work, feeling busy, browsing stupid shit online, and feeling empty and unproductive by the end of the day (or by 10:23 am, – but i stay in that pattern because i’m behind.). there’s something about unconscious browsing of the internet that somehow feels like “work”. i don’t get it. when i put effort into something, my brain is constantly suggesting other priorities that deserve my focus, but when i’m gorging on medium, or tunneling down a twitter hole, my brain is like moar, please! and when that happens, i can look at the list* and say, “hold up, brain–i didn’t prioritize browsing reddit today. i appreciate your desire to explore – it really does help me a lot. let’s plan on exploring after we do two of these things on the list.”
having a list allows you to get intentional about what you want to do during the day. and if you’ll treat the list with respect, you’ll discover:
- you’re no longer a slave to indecision.
- you’re no longer a slave to distraction.
- you’re no longer a slave to the squirrel that just stole your attention.
- and you’re not a slave to your to-do list, either.
your to-do list serves you – it allows you to keep in mind the things that resonate with your sense of purpose–to remember what was really important to your clear-thinking, morning version of your authentic self. and when distraction and reaction stop having such power over you, that my friends, is freedom.
my coach already understood this
when i started working with Pascale Cote, she asked all these questions about what my definition of freedom was, etc. i thought, yeah, yeah, i’m not here to seek freedom – i enjoy travel, but really, i just want to start accomplishing some meaningful shit in my life and stop being such a procrastinator. Three months in and i’m finally seeing how a person’s definition of freedom actually completely changes their understanding of commitment.
Janis & Bobby definitely understood this
“freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose…” here’s the weird and wild thing: when you practice freedom, you’re not worried about missing out on some potential’s future. you don’t get stuck in perfectionism. you’ve got nothing to lose. did it not turn out the way you wanted? so what – at least you did it. did some person make fun of you? doesn’t matter – they probably don’t like themselves very much. are you going to miss out on what the internet said about Trump today? pretty sure you’ll get over it.
when you’re free, you aren’t tied to results – the reward is in the doing. just do the thing. do the thing that makes you feel alive. let go, dammit. do the fucking thing. you’ve got nothing to lose.
when you choose yourself over unconscious escape, you will discover that commitment is the doorway to authentic expression, and authentic expression is freedom on fire.
and that feels good,
and feeling good is good enough for me; good enough for me and Bobby McGee. is it good enough for you?