Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Upward Spiral

There are plenty of people who claim that history repeats itself, in the large scale of societies and in the small scale of individual lives. Of course there is Shaw's claim that "If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience." I'm thinking about this today because I am experiencing a bit of it. I make my commitments toward what I want to create in my life, and I somehow find myself facing in the opposite direction overcoming challenges that I thought I had already conquered.

I want to create. It is a passion of mine. Specifically, creating music is something for which I possess strong passion and capability. Creating music requires (among other things) time. It is not how I spend my time, however. I spend my time on the thing which currently brings me a paycheck. And yet, that "thing" is so nebulously defined in some ways that I have a great deal of flexibility in how my time is spent. So my commitment earlier this year was to shift away from spending my paycheck-related time on the mundane tasks that anyone can do and focus that time on the things for which I am more uniquely passionate and skilled.

And yet, those mundane tasks that anyone can conceivably do are still important. Not in an earth-shattering kind of important, but in a meeting basic week-to-week expectations kind of important. So, if I am spending less time on them, it means that someone else must be doing them. Obviously, for my commitment to line up with practical reality, my goals would be best served by finding other people to take on the more mundane but necessary tasks. A short-term expenditure of time to locate and train someone leading to a long-term benefit of gaining more time to create.

But somehow, there always seem to be mundane tasks that need doing. I find myself looking back at my week thinking, "How did I spend so much time and have so little satisfaction from it?" At first I thought, other people aren't willing to do the mundane but necessary tasks, so I'm stuck with them. That's not exactly true, though. I have found willing people, I just keep finding more things to do that don't engage my deepest passions. So I recommit to shifting how I allocate my time, only to find myself doing a different set of mundane (but necessary?) tasks.

Now, I am thinking, how frightened must I be of getting what I truly want? There will always be easy choices about spending my time on more-or-less insignificant tasks, but the most immediately obvious task isn't necessarily the one that will serve my long-range goals. In fact, the most obvious tasks are often the ones that will rob me of the opportunity to get a little closer to what I truly want.

The life I envision for myself is not to make the easiest choices, but to make the most fulfilling ones. I am now looking at this decision again from a slightly different angle. I'm faced with re-learning the lesson, but I have made progress. I recognize the challenge, but I am getting more masterful and more determined. My commitment matters a little more to me now than it did the first time I claimed it. So, here I go again.

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