The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, March 26, 2007

Letter and Answer

I just received a letter asking for help on some specific, and very common issues. Here are the queries, and my responses. All of my answers are based on my current understanding of organizing life to produce Adulthood--the first major gateway. My answers are marked "Steve"

"I think the best way to describe what is bothering me is I feel stuck.  I'm talking about life as a whole, I just feel stuck.   Maybe I am lacking a sense of direction?  I recently graduated college.  I have goals and dreams but no clear way to get there, at present.   My energy levels are down.  My drive/desire sky-rockets for a brief time, a day or so, and then it is almost none existent.   I feel like I'm a slave to procrastination or laziness.  The things I want to start get no further than off the ground, if they get that far.   The things I want to quit always seem to creep back."
STEVE: You need to have WRITTEN goals in all three major areas of your life: career, relationships, fitness. All three. Then plot out your first 1-year's worth of work to accomplish them. Start moving. Inevitably, one of the three will be a bear. But the more clearly you define what you wish, and what there is to be done along the way, the easier it is to begin.
" To be completely honest, I have become afraid.  I'm not really sure how to get myself away from it.   I have some friends that tell me I am selling myself short.  The sad part is I know that's true.  I've read books upon books about ways to beat procrastination or how to increase your output.   Once I do manage to start something I never maintain it to completion.  As a child I used to feel I could accomplish anything.   Surprisingly, I would prove myself right regularly.  Somewhere, somehow I lost that innate belief in myself and I don't know how to get it back."
There are only a few really basic approaches to maximizing your efficiency as a human being (from my humble POV):
1) Balanced, written goals.
2) The ability to act despite the voices in your head (!)
3) Scathing honesty about where you currently are, your strengths and weaknesses
4) The ability to keep your word
5) At least one ally you can share your dreams with.
Energy is critical. It can be most rapidly increased through clarity of goals. Most people with "low energy" wouldn't know what to do with the energy if they had it. After that, energy is probably most clearly seen as a confluence of several factors
1) Fitness. Especially aerobic fitness. But Stretching/relaxation exercises like yoga can help teach you not to waste the energy once you have it.
2) Diet. A major energy killer. Most people take in entirely too many simple processed carbohydrates, and not enough fruit and vegetables. And their water intake is WAY too low.
3) Rest. I can't believe how people get 5-7 hours of sleep and then complain about being tired all the time. What the #$@@ do they expect? If you can thrive on this little sleep, good for you!! But if energy is an issue, this can be a damned good place to look.
And never, ever, underestimate the power of fear. It will lock your emotional emergency brakes on, and you'll burn yourself out fighting just to creep forward. Fear can often be defeated with clarity, and clarity can be obtained through a regular meditative practice. "Heartbeat Meditation" is fantastically powerful for those with the ability to stick with it. Journaling is also great, but make no mistake: your personal garbage will come up. All of it. And it will feel like hell, believe me.

This is where you have to have faith, and solid allies.

Good luck!

No comments: