The Best of Intentions

What to do when you fall off your bicycle.

What does falling off your bicycle have to do with the best of intentions? When you’re learning to ride a bicycle for the first time, you’re going to fall off. You keep at it until you learn to ride without falling off. I don’t think anyone sets out to not learn how to ride a bicycle. So it would seem that the best of intentions doesn’t really have anything to do with falling off of a bicycle. That is until you realize that the best of intentions is to a project as learning to ride is to the bicycle. We begin a project with the best of intentions, and we fall. Somehow we fail to apply the lesson of the bicycle to this, and the best of intentions lead to inaction, and the failure of the project.

That’s just it. We keep on working at riding a bicycle. We don’t give up because of a setback. We don’t give up even if we skin our knees, or hands, or elbows. Some of us don’t give up even if we break bones. But somehow the best of intentions becomes more than learning to ride, and instead of pulling ourselves together to go at the project again, it either takes on a life of its own and becomes bigger than it actually is, or we give up thinking we simply can’t do the project.

That’s where I am right now in many places. I have projects that I’ve undertaken with the best of intentions, and things haven’t gone as planned. Writing posts like this on a regular weekly basis is just the tip of the iceberg. Other projects seem to be more pressing than my own contribution to the sea of information on the Internet. The excuses mount, and before you know it what was a skinned elbow is now a broken arm. And it is so much harder to do everything with one of those. So now I have an excuse. Do you see where this is going? My thinking is ultimately what is broken. I need to get back to work on the projects, instead of letting the projects mount. I need to stop fabricating excuses, as if that was my job. And most importantly I need to push through the pain of admitting that I’m learning how to ride a bicycle. No, wait, I already know how to ride a bicycle. And, I already know how to get things done. That must mean that the pain is admitting that I have the best of intentions, and I have to stop letting those become my focus, because that makes about as much sense as dwelling on learning to ride a bicycle. The end goal is being able to ride a bicycle. The end goal of a project is its completion, not the best of intentions.

Stop making excuses when a project gets off track. Stop dwelling on intentions, and instead simply ask, “What’s next?” Then, do what’s next.

If you’re looking for help in this area, there are several good resources that have helped me. Follow the book links for “Getting Things Done” or “Essentialism” for starters. Read them. Then live them.