Saturday, March 29, 2014

I Tried It My Way

Halpz Pleez?
Second in the Why I Need a Coach series.

Why I Need a Coach I  Just the final Round 1 check-in entry
Why I Need a Coach III

Anyone reading most of the last week's posts and following the trajectory of my husband's coaching me in time-management and self-managment but were new to my story might be wondering why a 50 something woman needs to have tasks assigned to her like a tweener.

Some women might even see my submitting to my husband's guidance as an offence to a modern woman's social position.

I raised those questions in my ROW80 check-in post on Wednesday and attempted to answer them only to find that the scroll through my explanation seemed longer than the measuring tape I measure my shrinking waist with twice a week.

That plus the fact I'd recently decided to start posting about my challenges with self and time management outside the supportive ROW80 community meant that I would have to repeat myself in a later post if I didn't just move the material into a fresh post and save it for the next day.

But then I reneged on my promise to answer the questions in Thursday's post because I'd frittered away my time until there wasn't enough of it to complete the extensive editing the moved material needed in order to stand alone.  So I had to push it to Saturday because the Friday slot was already planned.

Before I finished my first read-through of the draft today I realized there was too much material for a single post so I'm going to split it into several posts.


So why is a grown woman in this decade willing to submit to the direction of her husband on what to do and when?

The short answer is:  I tried it my way from the age of 20 to 56 and never got anything but messes out of my efforts.  Including the mess in my head.

Over and over again it didn't work.  I kept thinking:

  • I wasn't trying hard enough
  • I was lazy
  • I wasn't sacrificing enough for the cause (my writing)
  • I was just a dilettante
  • I was untrustworthy (due to inconsistency in action and mood)
  • I was a slob
  • I was a failure
  • I was a fraud
  • I was useless
  • and on and on and on

My way consisted mostly of trying to put writing first always.  First above self-care (sleep, nutrition, hygiene, exercise, relaxation), first above schedules, first above relationships, first above fun....

That was the advice that seemed to permeate all the writing books.  You must not want it bad enough if you put anything else first.  But all I got from it were millions of journaling and freewrite words, dozens of fiction WIP, hundreds of unpolished poems, dozens of unfinished book reviews, and dozens of unpublishable, rambling personal essays.

It was crazy-making.

Yet I kept resisting the advice from other fronts--parents, husband, friends, siblings, self-help books, counselors--that without some structure to my days my writing would remain little but a private hobby.  Without structure I would not develop the consistency required to finish projects and meet deadlines.

But why my husband?

Short answer: He has over 30 years of experience in self-management, time-management, people management, and project management in his role as supervisor of teams beginning with the Marine Corp followed by janitorial then IT then a shipping dock.

It doesn't hurt that he knows me and the situation well.  Or that he has lived the repercussions.

Oh, and its free.  In terms of cash anyway.

He was reluctant when I asked him last Friday to resume the coaching sessions we began last year in late spring.

'I have no desire to be your boss.' he said.

But I was desperate and I begged.

So he agreed on the condition that it is understood that the goal is for me to:

  • absorb the lessons at the principle level so I can assess new situations on the fly and apply the principles to adjust the goals, methods, tactics or strategy without any outside help.  
  • develop and maintain a consistency in staying on track with the scheduled tasks 
  • and staying on task with each one as their turn comes.
  • develop flexibility so I'm not thrown for a loop by the unexpected
  • develop bounce-back-ability 
  • stop taking failures personally and 'beating myself up' over them.  Just say 'OK that happened' and move on.

In other other words learn how to be my own supervisor.

The principles he works from that I've gleaned so far:

  • set smaller reachable goals to accumulate rewards in the feeling of success.
  • take those memories and make them the carrot aka the motivator.
  • create habits and routines on autopilot for self-care tasks 
  • create a structure for my days by adding the daily tasks one or two at a time, anchoring them to an existing habit
  • streamline the tasks by implementing routines and insuring all necessary materials are accounted for and kept in order

I'm sure there are more because he doesn't always define them until after he's led me by the hand into an Ah ha! moment that burns a memory that contains the principle in a wordless, holistic lesson.

But none of that really explains why a grown woman who has read dozens of self-help books can't implement the advice on her own but needs one-on-one and step-by-step coaching.

There is really no short answer.

But there is a list of reasons.  Personal challenges that combine into an overwhelming jigsaw puzzle comprised of the jumbled pieces of half a dozen puzzles, a convoluted and lightless maze with so many notches on the walls they have no meaning, a mathematical equation too complex for Einstein to solve:

  • I'm ADD (recently diagnosed)
  • I have Panic/Anxiety/Depression mood disorder
  • I'm legally blind with RP aka Tunnel Vision
  • I have high blood pressure
  • I'm overweight 
  • I'm living in my elderly Mother's household run by my sister who is her caretaker. (see the 2013 February and March posts under the lifequake label for context) 

This environment is chaotic due to the following:

  • Including my sister's YA son all four of us are ADD
  • My nephew also has the same mood disorder as me
  • All four of us are hoarders and/or organizationally challenged
  • My sister and I both moved the stuff from our own households into this one and every surface in every room is an archaeological dig
  • My mother is 82 and also legally blind with the RP, plus she is Aphasic due to the stroke during her hip surgery after a fall in 2008, and is in severe chronic pain from osteoporosis inflicted damage to her spine just above the tailbone.  
  • Mom can no longer be left home alone for more than a couple of hours and that's becoming iffy.
  • My sister does respite care for behavior challenged kids and there is often one or two spending a day to a week here. Or she goes to their house leaving me on duty with Mom.

That is enough for this post.  It answers all the questions I posed in Wednesday post.

I've moved out all the paragraphs in which I tried to describe each of the challenges and how their interplay makes them exponentially more challenging and sometimes even life, limb or health threatening.  They just about double the word count and yet aren't nearly complete enough.  There is probably material for multiple future posts and I plan to continue developing it in my WhizFolder note ap and dole them out as this story line of Joy's Story progresses.

2 tell me a story:

Elizabeth Anne Mitchell 3/30/2014 5:10 AM  

Joy, when I read your list of how you feel when you've tried it your way, I was hit by how many I've said to myself.

I've also been thinking the same thing about writing--I must not want it enough. I don't have all of your personal challenges, but we share a lot--ADD, poor health, and being organizationally challenged.

To anyone who would fault you for turning to your husband for time management coaching, I say phooey to them. I applaud you for looking for help. Personal coaches can be expensive, and his knowledge of your circumstances has to be helpful.

My response could go on for pages,but I end by thanking you for posting this explanation, You may think you are alone, but there are many of us out here, and there is a lot of support in the ROW80 community. {{hugs}}

Jamie 3/30/2014 4:22 PM  

Sis, I understand your challenges. I am proud of you for the steps you are taking to improve your life and reach your goals. Great job.
I can understand about the house situation because I know when I visit sometimes I feel a bit suffocated by the overwhelming stuff that is everywhere. I hope you all can figure out a healthy plan that will make you each reach your goals. I love you.

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