the endless cycle of inventing projects and postponing decisions, and what to do about it

I have a friend that talks to me whenever she feels bad. and when she feels better, she leaves to go do what we talked about. except that what she needs to do is hard, and this creates stress. so to protect itself from the stress, her mind looks back to see when was the last time that there wasn’t any stress? oh! when talking to William. so my friend comes back for another de-stressing conversation, it feels good, and the cycle continues.

and this is the same thing with starting new projects. you come up with a project, and it’s all exciting. you’re all happy and can’t wait to make the project a reality. right now, no obstacle can stand in your way. you start working on your project. you hit an obstacle, and it’s hard. stress kicks in. so to protect itself, your mind goes looking for the last time when you felt good, and there wasn’t any stress: ‘oh! when I was inventing a project.’ so you get to inventing another project. and it feels good. and the cycle continues.

years later you realize that all you’ve done during that time is invent new projects. but you havn’t actually accomplished anything.

and making a decision is the same thing. when the time comes when you ultimately have to make a decision, you get stressed out. and your mind goes to the last thing you did to remove the stress: ‘oh! postponing the decision.’ or asking somebody’s opinion. and that makes you feel better. and so the cycle goes on.

and making a decision is hard because there’s no security. there’s fear. you don’t know whether it’s the right decision or the wrong decision. and guess what? no one knows either. there are only those who don’t know, and those who pretend they know. and now your mind starts imagining all these scenarios of what would happen if it’s the wrong decision. and the fear paralyses you. and you get stressed. and you postpone yet again. all of this creates an endless loop of unhappiness and stress. 

the best way to overcome those loops is to make a decision now, and stick to it. choose an obstacle now, and overcome it. decide on a project, and ship it. don’t come back. don’t postpone, and by all means don’t invent another project.

update (14dec2010): for this to work you have to actually BELIEVE that the only way to do this is to make effort. there’s no other way. it will be hard, and full of obstacles. as long as you’re looking for shortcuts, you’ll be stuck in the loop. once you genuinely BELIEVE that there are no shortcuts, you will choose an obstacle, and overcome it. then choose another and overcome it. when you genuinely believe this, that’s when the magic starts to happens.

update: for deeper insights, and more detailed recommendations, please read the comments.

yours, will.

twitter: @williamchoukeir

p.s. related topic coming later: the secret to self-made happiness.

 

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16 Responses to the endless cycle of inventing projects and postponing decisions, and what to do about it

  1. Anonymous says:

    choose an obstacle now, and overcome it. decide on a project, and ship it. don’t come back. don’t postpone, and by all means don’t invent another project.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I cannot but say, ‘this applies to me’. Thank you will, now, I can readnthis instead of calling you 😉

  3. Anonymous says:

    edward: thank you for reading my notes. your feedback is greatly appreciated. i feel we’re traveling parallel paths in our individual evolution.sherif: haha! that’s great news 🙂 i have to add to the note, that the best way to overcome the loop is this: to actually BELIEVE that there no other way other than to make effort. it will be hard, and full of obstacles. once you genuinely BELIEVE that there are no shortcuts, that’s when the magic happens.

  4. Anonymous says:

    i updated this note guys! thanks for the new insights.

  5. Anonymous says:

    EXACTLY. FEAR is the name of the game for me! FEAR: FALSE EXPECTATIONS APPEARING REAL.Although they might not be false…

  6. Anonymous says:

    patsy, wondering whether they are false expectations or not is also fear of failure. the best remedy is to jump at what you feel you should do, knowing that no matter the consequences are, and no matter how harm these consequences are, they will ultimately be short lived – very short term. and none of them will have any long term effect. shut your rational mind off, and do.of course i’m not talking about jumping off a building, don’t do that. that’ll have long term effect 🙂

  7. Anonymous says:

    or not… have you watched LOST lately? :)"shut your rational mind off": WoW! have i not been trying to do this all my life! talk about mission impossible…:)

  8. Anonymous says:

    patsy: haha. you don’t have to shut it off for ever 🙂 you only need to shut it off for the few seconds that you need to make a decision and a commitment that you won’t come back. after that happens, please let it come back on ;-)remember the time when you made your first commitment to TEDxSKE, you had to put all your fears and worries aside, and make the decision, and choose to commit to it. after that happened, the fears came back. but you weren’t going to sabotage your vision; you had already committed.hope this helps.

  9. Anonymous says:

    yes! and the fear gets back every thursday night @ 21h. and it dissolves back again @ 22h… :)thanks william…

  10. Anonymous says:

    <html><head></head><body style="word-wrap: break-word; -webkit-nbsp-mode: space; -webkit-line-break: after-white-space; "><div><div style="width: 600px; font-size: 12px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; line-height: 18px;" class="PosterousEmail"><font class="Apple-style-span" face="Verdana"><span class="Apple-style-span" style="line-height: normal; font-size: medium;">thank you patsy.</span></font></div><div style="width: 600px; font-size: 12px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; line-height: 18px;" class="PosterousEmail"><br></div><div style="width: 600px; font-size: 12px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; line-height: 18px;" class="PosterousEmail"><font class="Apple-style-span" face="Verdana"><span class="Apple-style-span" style="line-height: normal; font-size: medium;"></span></font></div></div></body></html>

  11. Nisrine says:

    After writing it my response on the ipad, i am using a computer t his time!thank you Sherif for sending me to this blog! and thank you William for writing it!as with every retries, i am sure this comment will not be as eloquent as the first one but here i go.What you write is really captivating, It also presents itself as the solution for this ‘limitation’ that i have!that so many things i do not finish! and oh no! all those excuses after i was so passionate about them in the start! hmmmWhat you describe is so much more constructive than saydescribing this phenomenon as Laziness.Fear of failure or fear of success.the mind constantly wandering and not being still in the Present moment.The present is a PRESENT after all!A dismissive Authoritarian school teacher would say, stop being lazy, and finish what you start. Lear self discipline and commitment!!!Reap the fruits of your work, difficulties are everywhere.Some people would say PASSION is the secret.It is the right compatibility with the ‘project’ or what it is you are planning to do.it has to be a right fit, something you really enjoy and catches your mind/heart….Some say life is a journey, until we find this perfect ‘project’, and we can enjoy that journey…As for decisions, this one is SUCH A TRICKY ONE!So i am between yes, discipline commitment and walking through that obstacle, and the passion thing…I believe we have a choice in it – and not.Awsome Blog, i will keep reading!

  12. Anonymous says:

    wow nisrine. thanks so much! this means a lot to me. and thank you sherif for sharing.the decisions things IS a tricky one. i totally agree. that’s why i have another note that deals specifically with that. and if you can master that, then you can master self-made happiness. it’s not public yet. very soon.

  13. Ahmad Osman says:

    Wahahahahaha ??a fait trop guru.What I like about this way of life is that eventually you wind up doing things without planning them much. I do not mean stupid existential things such as dancing in the rain (I’m too old to be fascinated by that now), but rather the silly act of calling the cable technitian as soon as you discover that the Internet is out. There is something in this absent-minded doing of things that is tantamount to love.

  14. Anonymous says:

    wow ahmad! that’s the best point of view i go so far. kudos for that thing on your shoulders 😉 — very true. very true. respect.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Great blog…definitely pertains to me. As I have 2 research papers to work on…and have been postponing postponing postponing my first one…it’s a subject that I have no passion about whatsoever, not even neutral on the subject, I hate it and see it as pointless, so I go back to something that doesn’t stress me out…reading blogs 🙂 and I just got back from book browsing at Antoine’s–did not find my Charles Bukowski book that would have made me the happiest person in Hamra. haha….oh well, your blog at least motivates me to just get it done and over with…COMMIT to this and complete it!!! Yes, I will. 😀

  16. Anonymous says:

    nat: if i get another comment from you, that means you’re still reading blogs, and not actually working. 🙂 plz don’t forget that commitment alone won’t work, you have to genuinely believe that there are no shortcuts, and you have to BELIEVE that every reason-for-not-working that you get in your head, is just an excuse to postpone. "I hate it and see it as pointless" is one of those excuses that you use to clear your conscience for not doing the work.love you. & thank you for all the support.

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