I just want life to be like Burger King - "Have it your way."
You've been through one of those days. A day where nothing goes right and the illusion of control over your life is dashed to bits by plans going awry, Netflix addictions taking over, losing your wallet, or anything else Murphy's Law lays out for you. Who is Murphy anyway? Where does he get off derailing your train towards big dreams?
I had a couple days recently that just felt like I wasn't able to stick to plans. I feel my success depends on my determination to set and stick to tasks. These tasks are like points towards a goal. The more tasks I complete, the closer to the goal I get. Which is great, until I go through a day where I leave tasks undone. So where is the problem? Is it me? Why can't I focus, where is my dedication, self discipline? Start the Google search for self-improvement, "Am I the only one who ___ ?" How can I be more productive? Why am I selfsabotaging?
This search does two things, it further derails my plans for the day by distracting me with useless work instead of the tasks I wanted to accomplish. Second, it is just letting me through a pity party for myself. It's a defense mechanism, I start to take control back for the rest of the day by adding more work in the name of self improvement. I just keep telling myself "you'd be doing better if you didn't suck in these areas." That's not going to help me.
What really went wrong? Yesterday, I had told myself I needed to prep images for composite pieces. It would require me driving to different locations to photograph backgrounds, and picking up props to photograph and edit into the scene. I would do this in between a job and editing client work. I got up on time, good start. I made my bed--bonus points--and left early enough to fill the car with gas and arrive early. I had time to scout and photograph a couple of scenes. I had planned to do this later so it was okay that the places I had been thinking of didn't look quite right all of a sudden. I would have time after the job before having to drive to my next appointment, which actually was picking out props I needed for the shoot as well.
Except the job didn't end when I expected it would. It was a whole hour later. Add rush hour traffic, I was going to be late for the next appointment and unable to take background photos for the composite images. No problem, let's see if I can move something. Called the prop guys, they couldn't move it to another day but were okay with me being a little late, but not late enough I could still take background photos. Alright, I need the props so I can move the other photos to Thursday. I pick up the props, get home, finish editing client photos and grumble about pushing deadlines back and make a new plan that moves around three other days of work to accommodate what I missed today. I think about how I am a failure for not finishing my to-do list.
The job running late was out of my control, I was working for someone else and not in charge of the agenda. I did what I could to course correct. Now I will be better at keeping a buffer between appointments. It's not because I suck at time management, it's not because I should have known that it would have run late, it's not because I didn't care enough that the universe decided to stick it to me.
My goal is to not immediately run to self-help articles next time something goes wrong. (To be clear, I find self-help books helpful. I really enjoy reading them and have been totally motivated to change my life for the better. No sarcasm!) I am going to assess what actually went wrong rather than blame myself first thing. I will not completely restructure my plans away from my REAL goals searching for self help, what feels like a quick fix, a way to take control back. I will focus on the bigger picture and keep working towards it.