Over the last week I did participate in a blog challenge called Your Turn initiated by Winnie Kao https://twitter.com/winniekao
It seemed as an easy challenge in the beginning. I mean I do like to write and there was no limitation, thematic or quantitative or any other, except the one: write and post in the day, every day for 7 days. I participated i similar challenges in the past with music, so no newbie here but… it still felt like this one would be easy. It wasn’t.
It was difficult and the most difficult part was that… it was easy to write but even more easier to “put it off” until last minute. Until the day run out and I was panicking to write my days blog. The solution. Plan a slot every day or even, write and prepare tomorrow’s blog today.
All in all I loved it, learn a few things and the feeling of having manage to keep up with it in my busy schedule (since I was “naive” enough to take on it) was a great one.
You can find all the blogs from the people who participated here: http://yourturnchallenge.tumblr.com/
Anyway here are the ones I wrote from day one to day 7 :
By Panos Kolias
I spend a lot time thinking, just thinking, what will be, what was, what is. I spend a lot time crafting an opinion, rejecting it, putting myself in the shoes of the other side (or so I believe) trying to find the middle ground, the truth, knowing that there is not one truth, there is no middle ground.
I always wanted to write, but I very often decided against it. I always loved to create, tangible stuff out of plasticine, back in the day, but I never trusted my self to use clay. I loved to write with a pencil, which can be erased easily, corrected. It took me years to present my music to people who where not very close friends.
I spent most of the time thinking, what if… You can fill the gap with anything that may come in your mind, I went through all of it: what if they don’t like it, what if it isn’t any good, what if they laugh, what if I’m not ready, what it … what if… what if…
Then the internet came, and the forums, and the platforms to discuss and express an opinion. And with it the fear of rejection became even bigger. And with the help of the “all-knowing-behind-my-avatar-hiding-trolls” the insecurity rose bigger. So I kept thinking, just thinking, crafting an opinion, rejecting it, putting myself in the shoes of the other side … and so on.
Everyone has an opinion, and everyone has means and platforms to express it. While this is often overdone, abused, ridiculed and used to manipulate and mislead in large, there are, in the ocean of blogs, posts, comments, even likes and memes, the few diamonds, hidden in the most obscure corners or sometimes in plain sight. Not always easy to find them, but when you do, you know you have found your tribe, someone who’s opinion you value, who’s thoughts and insight inspire you and help you to move on, become a better person, motivate you to continue on your road or change direction.
So you admire and respect the strength and the willingness, to put a piece of their minds, of their thoughts out here for everyone to see, a piece of their soul, in the open, despite the negativity, despite the wannabe experts all around, despite the noise who raises higher and higher every minute.
I spend a lot time thinking, I spend a lot of time crafting opinions, knowing that they might be wrong, that I may missed something, overlooked the other side. But now it is my turn to put them out there, share them and let people who find them to decide wether they are of any value to them or not. I started a blog a few weeks ago. It took me 4 years.
Now it’s my turn!
When is your turn?
by Panos Kolias
Are you tired already? Because I am. How hard is it to keep up with all of it, all the daily bits of life, the job, the bills, the dreams that are moving away, the obligations, the hopes, the good intentions, the resolutions.
The days are full, the time is short, the distractions big. How to focus? how to manage to do the work?
There are “emergencies” coming in, urgent matters, which most often became urgent because they were not addressed yesterday, and they were not addressed yesterday because other urgent and emergencies had taken their toll. And if no emergency arises or no urgent matters press for attention and time, then it’s recharge time, which means letting things down, which in turn may become emergency in the next day.
How to break this? How to do the work every day and not give up. How to write the next blog, way after midnight when you’d rather sleep (if you’re smart) or watch tv (if you’re not) ?
There’s only one way. Do the work. Put the foot forward and take a step, even if it is only one, even if it just brings you in front of the door you want to open but not walk you in. Even if you collapse in front of that door, just take this one little step and do your work. Add a sentence, 4 bars of music, a line, a stroke of the brush. Learn the next tow lines, just these two, no more. Better than nothing.
Keep up and do the work, even if it is only small. Go for a walk and not be mad at yourself for not nodding, just do something. The urgent is only urgent as long as someone responds to it.
Keep up, word by word.
By Panos Kolias
Sometimes it happens faster than we think. We failed. We did not do what we were supposed to do, what we said we would, what we planned to do.
Reasons, there are always reasons why something happens (or does not happen). But if what it counts is the result then, when we didn’t deliver we have, simply put, failed.
There was not enough time available, too much distraction, not enough material available, not enough information available, an unforeseen emergency or even health issue etc etc. All of these are good or not so good reasons, but the result does not change. And of course it does make a difference to we wether we failed because we didn’t do the work, or because something outside wer control stopped us.
Similar to an excellent result, where no-one really cares how long did it take (as long as it was delivered in time, what an oxymoron) how much we have struggled or not if there were long nights involved or not.
People do know better than to ignore the reasons, so that’s why we often get a second chance, if we did not deliver in time, or if the result was not the one promised. But usually no-one is willing to give a 3rd and 4rth chance. “He’s a really nice guy, but he always misses the deadlines” is not something that will guarantee we work.
One of the most usual reasons for failing: time. We did not have the material before we committed to the project and we did not plan time to get it. So we spent the time looking for the material instead of working of the project. Did not take into account research time, so instead of writing we spent time on researching. Let alone plan for “unforeseen emergencies” or “down time” (in order to stay healthy so that we can deliver). And more often there is a reason for all that too: shorter deadlines, not enough time to our disposal because it is “needed yesterday” and in fear of loosing the job we agree to do it. But if we fail, the blame fall back on us.
So what to do, after the fact? Move on. Go back to square one and try again. Cause we can either discuss why it is not our fault for failing, or why we could not have succeeded in the first place, or learn a lesson or two, let go and try again. And again, and again.
By Panos Kolias
Once they’re established they’re very hard to change. If they are habits that make you feel better, improve your health, your relationships etc then you are good. The habit of brushing your teeth helps you keep the healthier than not. The habit of working out, helps your body supporting you on your endeavours.
Bad habits are really hard to get rid of. Let’s define bad what: make you sick, unhappy, lonely, unsatisfied, sad. The habit of watching tv is one that immediately comes in mind. The habit of smoking. Of picking your nose in public.
Habits creep in slowly, usually as a result of cutting corners, being exhausted and thus not thorough, being influence or manipulated or being misinformed. Kids need more energy and sugar delivers energy, thus… give them kids enough of it, used to be one which combined several of the above. It’s ok to skip workout this week, Im too exhausted and have no time anyway. And the examples go on and on.
There are also habits which can be characterised as bad or good depending on your personal needs. Going to bed late, or waking up late may be good or not so good. How you’ll know. You do by the feeling you get afterwards. Feeling like your day is wasted _again_ because you woke up too late? Sleep in is not good for you. Feel guilty for going to bed too late _again_ without doing anything productive … not ideal.
It’s seem to be way easier to start a “bad” habit than a “good” one. Probably because in most cases all a bad habit requires is the “lack of action” where a good habit indeed is connected to taking specific action again an again. So even it is told a habit needs at least 8 weeks to be established depending on the person, the environment, the habit in question etc etc. Sometimes it takes even more, way more. So actually even a bad habit would not really become a habit just because you failed to take action one or two times. So if you are an early person you will not get into the habit on waking up late just because you sleep in every now and then.
The reason way most bad habits feel fast to “implement” seems to be that they were already there. Wanting to change your working schedule because the one you have is not fitting your current stage in life and thus feels bad: then you are trying to change an established habit with a new one. Even if you do so for a few weeks, so that you get the feeling that you are winning, it’s very easy to fall back to the old habit. Even if you reach the magical 8 weeks, maybe this habit needs more time to be established. Falling back ti the old one would give you the impression that it took 8 weeks to get to the good habit and only one week to get to a bad one (ignoring the fact that it was there to already).
Creating a new habit seems also to be easier than changing an existing one. The new is exiting, shiny, interesting. The old is boring. So it will not only take you longer to change a habit you will be also prone to fall back, whereas a new habit even if it is not established it does necessary not feel like a failure.
As with many things in life: changing or establishing a habit takes time. And it’s not always as easy as setting up the alarm two hours earlier. Having the habit to work best only under pressure, for years and years, cannot be changed in a few months. The implications of it are much higher, like you will have to steer yourself clear of situations which demand this. Which in turn means you may have to say no to some job offers, to your boss or even to people close to you.
However taking inventory every now and then, which habits are good for you and which not, and then establishing a long and realistic plan to change them is a good habit…
By Panos Kolias
I have never run a marathon. I don’t think I ever will. I haven’t either run a short race of any sort. I don’t jog. It’s just not me.
Yet I very often think of marathons. Because from what I understand from “the outside”, the biggest and first important achievement of a marathon is to finish it. I have never heard of anyone being exited or happy for having finished a 100 meter run. Heck I could do that too, it would take me probably even up to a minute to finish it but I could. But having finished a marathon! That’s an achievement to be proud of.
A Marathon is exactly 42,195 kilometres (26 miles and 385 yards) which is supposed to represent the original distance between Marathon and Athens in Greece. A distance that according to the legend was run non-stop by a messenger of the Greek army who carried the message of the Greek victory against the Persians and died immediately afterwards.
Neither the distance is the exact distance of the physical locations, nor there is hard evidence that this legend is true, as it first appeared in writing in the 1st century AD, which in itself referenced a writing of aprox. 3rd century BC, while the event they both referencing took place at 490 BC.
But it doesn’t matter. What matters is to finish a marathon, a long distance run with no stops start to finish. What matters is to sign up, prepare and run it even if you finish as the last runner.
What very often feels as a failure, is not wether we are the fastest or, richest, smartest etc than the others. What very often feels like a failure is giving up, not finishing, not closing the project, not releasing the software, not presenting the poem. And in that regard it doesn’t even matter how long the project is scheduled to last. What matters is to run it to the end, even if it’s only a 7 days challenge.
By Panos Kolias
Most of the time we take decisions within milliseconds. Faster than saying “I’ve decided to…” we already know what exactly we decided to do. What takes a long time is, first to get there and second … to make it happen.
We do collect data, or ideas, or even feelings (gut-feeling, emotions) before we take a decision. Sometimes the collection happens so fast that it seems as if we took a decision immediately. Truth is that most of the times we’ve been collecting (experience is in a way a collection of data and emotions which helps us next time we come up in a similar situation to decide fast and/or different on what our action would be) already, consciously or subconsciously. While we turn the idea in our head or while we sleep.
But even if data collection takes a while the decision comes within milliseconds, sometimes even before! we have finished our collection. Then we just merely looking for data to back it up.
It often comes as a back thought, as a glimpse of an idea or even a dream. But we know it, if we open up to it, if we “listen”, we know it.
And then comes the sometimes long time of taking action, making it happen. Where we try to find the way, the means, or even the reasoning. Because sometimes what holds us back is not the fear of what may go wrong, but of what others will say. So we are looking for the solid reasoning, the facts that support our decision, the way to convince the others.
One would think the right decision does not need a lot of reasoning and explanation but the point is this: decisions are not always right or wrong, they’re just decisions. Even with the best research, data, or emotional information, a decision is a decision that is supposed to lead to a certain outcome. If the outcome is what we wanted it feels like it was the right decision, if not, it feels like it was a wrong decision. What we miss though, while labelling the decision right or wrong is that we don’t know before hand what the outcome will be for sure. Secondly things may change from the moment we took the decision to the moment we took action to the moment the actions are completed. Life changes all the time, and in the process of taking action to implement our decision we may need to adjust, to focus on other things and even change plans. Was then the decision bad? Wrong? Was it right? what about if the decision was right even the outcome was what we wanted but everything else around us has changed and made it …. irrelevant. What if we were misinformed took the “wrong” decision, but out of luck it created the planned outcome?
So although we should never make serious decisions lightly, especially decisions that affect our life, our health, our sanity, our beloved ones, we should let go of the fear of right and wrong (except the morally right or wrong) since we are not able to know beforehand and afterwards things may have greatly changed. Just decide and put the work in.
by Panos Kolias
It is a very interesting phenomenon that the only thing that is constant in our otherwise variable life is the one that most often surprises us.
Wether we like it or not, wether we anticipate it or not, change is always happening, every day, every minute, every second. Our now cells are changing unstoppable all the time although for the most part we still feel the same.
Very often change surprises us, because it comes from outside and although we may have had the chance to see it coming and prepare for it, we didn’t. There are many reasons for that and may be good or bad reasons. But it does not really matter wether the reasons are good or bad, at least not in a way that would “change” anything.
Sometimes change comes from within and takes so long to be established that we don’t even realise it. “I haven’t changed I’m still the same”, we say to each other even after decades, as if all our life and the experiences we have collected till then did not shape us in any form. As if we in our 40s still thinking the same we did in our 20s.
We cannot stop the change, we can embrace it or even try to lead it to e certain direction, but stopping it is impossible. When the society reaches a point where change is inevitable we can either work towards making it happen faster or direct it to a certain direction, depending on our beliefs and views of the world. This has often lead to riots, wars and other disasters, but never has stopped the change.
There are no warranties that the change will have the result that one hopes, wishes or is fighting for. If we are looking for warranties in the times of change then we are doing the same mistake as when we ignore and deny that the change is happening.