Author: Drew Llew

What's to say? Better to let my words speak for me I think.

Working hard at Procrastination

Procrastination. It sounds such a positive activity. We all love Crastination! Crastination for all!

Verb; To crastinate:  to dither about doing anything other than what is required at that time.

Presumably someone who does everything smartly to time, besides being anally retentive and a colossal bore, should be guilty of anticrastination. As I am a definite Pro on the subject of crastination,  I should be a Grand Master Crastinator.

I don’t see anything wrong with procrastination. Lots of useful stuff gets done as a result. I just wish it didn’t take up so much time to put off doing the things that really should get done. There is a time and place for everything, as they say. However finding precisely when that time and place is for certain tasks is profoundly challenging for the Grand Master.

There are a few things I really want to spend time on. These are my noble and cerebral exploits. And given that these are exploits of my own choosing, one would think they would be easy to slot into my working day (now free of any real ‘work’). But no. Grand Master Crastinator that I am, I find attending to the small and mundane tasks to be infinitely more satisfying than the noble deeds to which I wish to assign my time.

I have three personal goals at this point in my life. That’s it. These are the only things I should be focused on right now. So how do I lose days, weeks and months to ‘other stuff’? How do my Time Bandits (© Terry Gilliam) manage to rob me of whole days and weeks?

We all have our Time Bandits. Laundry is so much more vital than revision; alphabetising the book shelf really must be done before the assignment which is due tomorrow. And so is true with my own goals. Even though these are challenges I set myself, things I truly want to accomplish, they are challenging. They are arduous and hard. And so I find myself whiling away the hours on useful, necessary, but not essential activities instead of applying myself to what I really should be doing.

Take writing. I want to write, I truly do. I want to create, and gain wider recognition for my work at some point. But finding the time – there’s the rub. Even with no work to hinder me, the hours and days run away and still no words appear. My latest diversion was to create a calendar so that I could plan out when to write. Yes, I spent time planning when I could have been writing!

Procrastination is the bane of life for so many of us. Why do today what could just as easily be done tomorrow? To quote despair.com:

Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

Not quite the same – I’m busy, just not doing the right things.

So how do we arrest these pesky Time Bandits? With a Plan, of course (just not as an excuse to actually working), but moreover with a rethinking of Priorities.  I like the tale of the rocks, gravel and sand. You may have read a similar tale:

Rocks, Pebbles, Sand – The Important Things in Life

A teacher took a large jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, about 2 inches in diameter. When the rocks reached the top he asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The teacher then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. He asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The teacher took a bag of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “Yes.”

He then emptied out the jar and refilled it in reverse order: Sand, pebbles, then rocks. This time, he could not fit all the rocks into the jar.

“What changed between these exercises?” he asked the students. He saw a sea of blank faces.

“The jar represents your life,” said the teacher. “These rocks? They are the most important things – your family, your friends, your health, your interests. The things most central to your being.”

He picked up a handful of sand and a handful of pebbles. “These,” he said, “represent the little things, the necessary but not important, the routine tasks. As we saw, if you fill the jar with sand and pebbles first, there is no room for the rocks.”

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, mow the lawn.

Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand and gravel.

With this parable in mind, my focus is now more firmly on my goals. So if you drive by my house and see the lawn overgrown, paint peeling and a gate swinging on its hinges you will know. I’ve finally got a handle on my rocks. Either that or the Cialis finally kicked in.

Change is Tough!

1280px-Neon_sign,_-CHANGE-

Change is positive, change is good. Change is what allows us to grow, to expand our horizons, to seek out new opportunities, to boldly go where he have not gone before (for all you Trekkies).  All true. Without change we would turn inwards, wither on the vine. And yet, every time we change we leave a little something behind. We turn our backs on a part of what made us who we are. You see, every change, no matter how desired, requires sacrifice.

Equally, every change, no matter how well planned and thought through, will never be implemented with the ease or simplicity it should. No matter how much we might crave the change we bring upon ourselves, it never seems to work out quite as effortlessly or as smoothly as we’d imagined. Did you ever notice that? Fitting new into old always seems to require more adjust than it ought, whatever the change we are bringing about.

Let’s start with the simple material changes. Try redecorating. Start that process and you are painting the Forth Bridge (Canadian readers – google here). Do the walls and the ceilings need doing; start with (more…)

The Boiled Frog

I’m sure we’ve all heard the story of the boiling frog – place a frog on cold water and then heat the water gently. The frog will adjust its body temperature to the warming water until the water gets too hot for him to control, and then he will die. Utter fallacy scientifically but it serves as a very effective metaphor for life. Just replace the boiling pan for a nice cozy hot tub, containing all the material things we value. Look inwards and life is good – we have our soft comfort of life, few tough challenges and a soft, safe existence. Over the shoulder is the cold, harsh reality of life and opportunity. Sure, there might be fantastic experiences and golden opportunities – but they are out of sight from where we lie – and they might not actually exist. Far easier to stay in the safe, warm comfort isn’t it? But the water is slowly heating up. One day the safety and security we crave might actually cause our demise if we don’t take the opportunity to step out of the pool from time to time, check the temperature and readjust as necessary.

Lots of metaphor there – so to bring this back to reality – who here has seen the pounds slowly creep upwards on the scale with the passing years? Who has seen their physical activity slowly decrease year on year? Who here regularly spends their income on the essentials of life – toys, vacations and ‘stuff’, secure in the knowledge that there will always be another paycheque to top up the coffers? Who has allowed their relationship to drift into the ‘comfortable shoes’ stage? We all know that every one of these examples is not sustainable for the long term. Those extra pounds keep on piling on until we get into health problems – same with the lack of exercise. The spending can carry on, sure, but actually how secure is that job? What would happen if it suddenly disappeared due to a takeover or a life event that stops us working? What happens when one in the relationship doesn’t like the comfortable shoes anymore and wants to live life more fully? None of us wants any of these things – not going to happen to us is it? We are all charging into an action filled retirement adventure full of travel, exotica, fitness and good health, and with a passionate relationship to boot. But unless we step out of that steaming hot tub to reassess what is really important to us now and in our future, then we are not controlling our destiny – it is controlling us.

It’s not easy – most folk will usually only step out of the pool when forced, be it through a job loss, relationship failure, medical emergency or something equally as drastic. And even then, most of us do not or cannot make the life changes these life events require. Lost your job? First thing to do is jump right back into another pool. Sure, the unexpected heat in the fresh pond might make us squeal, but we quickly adjust to the new reality of more responsibility / less pay / different people etc. Relationship on the rocks? All too easy today to set up an account for one of a dozen Ashley Madison copycats. Medical emergency? Ah, well we all know we could make those life changes if we had to, we just don’t need to yet, right? But well over half of all people given a critical diagnosis can’t make even one of the necessary life changes – and less than 5% can make them all (typically lose weight/change diet, exercise and give up smoking are the top three).

Given the choice, pretty much everyone will just slip back into the warm waters, even knowing that’s what is slowly killing them. And that’s normal because change is tough. Change involves letting go of what we know, the apparent safety and security of the present. It involves taking action and beating a new path with all the inherent risk. It might lead to failure, embarrassment or worse. Yes. Yes it might. But it might also lead to personal, financial or spiritual freedom and success. That new path might lead to incredible new experiences and new friendships. It might start you on a journey of health and vitality that will certainly add life to your years, if not years to your life.  So I believe it behooves us all to step out of the pool once in a while and do a life balance check. Make sure that the path we are on is the one we want to be on, for all the right reasons. Because in the words of the great Mark Twain:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Relationship Relativity

How is it possible for you to stay the same age yet everyone else ages?

You know what I’m talking about. You see a Pop Star on TV from your youth and they are suddenly OLD, or an old girl/boyfriend appears in your Facebook feed and you think – WOW, how did s/he get so OLD.

I have a theory here, and I think you will like this one. They appear to be old because they ARE older then you now. True. This comes right out of the mouth of Albert Einstein.

When you are courting a nice girl, an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.

Albert Einstein

He said it better, but we’ve all seen the same thing – take ten minutes on the Internet and it seems like an hour to your partner who asked you to do something else. Try standing on a corner waiting for a ride – those two minutes stretch relative to the temperature outdoors.

Now, alongside this relativity of time that we can accept, Einstein also said that time is warped by gravitational pull. If you recall, Einstein said that speed of light is relative and that things travelling faster get shorter blah, blah, blah, and that distance and gravity affecting time – it’s all explained here as part of the science behind the movie Interstellar. If you didn’t click the link, you will just have to trust me that the stronger the gravitational field surrounding you, the slower time travels.

So how does all this link to relationships? Well, I think we can apply Einstein’s theory relative to relationships, and here’s how:

The stronger the physical bond between people (i.e. their gravitational pull on each other), the slower they will age, when compared to people who are in a weaker gravitational field relative to us.

Think about it – we are going about our daily lives when suddenly a celebrity from our youth appears on the news. BAM!! They are suddenly old! How can that be? They were one of the beautiful people in my youth – they are of my generation, yet here they are, old, and here I am, looking at my partner and seeing someone who hasn’t changed since the day we met.

adam-ant

Adam Ant, then and now

Relationship relativity, as I’m calling it, also affects the size of things. Do you recall the house in which you grew up, or your first school? Remember how big that place was? My childhood home was enormous in my memory. My bedroom was big enough for all my stuff, with plenty of room left over to play, yet today we need the whole house to contain our stuff and there’s still no room – yet go back and look at that old house – tiny!!

So, the good news in all of this is that, to the people closest to you, you are no older today than when you first met. And those beautiful people all get old much more quickly than you – especially that guy/girl who stole your heart back in High School. They got VERY OLD, VERY QUICKLY.

Where Next?

For the past year or so I had grown bored with my job. The transformation program I had been working on was largely done and we were now into the day to day. My team and my work was 500 miles away so I spent my days on conference calls, remote from the every day camaraderie of the office world. Sure, things got done and done well, but the work was mundane and without real challenge. I had given myself 18 months – aiming for the magic Freedom 55. And then the decision was taken away from me.

One day, back in October, I got the letter so many colleagues before me had got. The meeting was full of empty platitudes – bit like being dumped really – ‘it’s not you, it’s me’, that kind of thing. Bottom line – I’m out of the door with a very sizeable cheque and the freedom I had been craving. Except it didn’t feel that way. First thing I did when I had picked myself up was start a job search and blow the dust off my resume. In the first two days I had scoured all the job boards for anything vaguely suited to my diverse skills and had fired off a done applications. I made lists of my network contacts, set up appointments and followed up on leads – desperate to take charge of my life and prove my worth. I see that as the equivalent of the rebound – if you don’t want me I will date the next available warm body to prove my attractiveness.

Within two weeks I had my first interview – went horribly, but then I’ve been out of the dating pool for 7 years, so to be expected. After that, though, I began to settle into this new reality, and my new job became, get a job. I’m getting first dates, the odd second date, but that’s not the point of this post. Point is, I’m not sure why I’m even trying to get another job. My carefully analysed and reviewed financial plan shows I don’t need to work, so it’s not for the money.

I think it is purely down to the fact that I was not in control of the decision – and that’s the root of the issue for anyone involved in change. If you try to force a change on someone, and they don’t have time to accept and buy-in, it will not go well. The change model I used in my work states you need people to have awareness of the need for change, and a desire to participate and support the change as basics entry points, otherwise the change will not go well.

In my case, the forced change meant there was no handover for my team and workload. Files were simply deleted and a huge amount of work and effort was lost. The company will never know what they lost because they simply didn’t bother to ask. For me, the change meant rejection and so that immediate need to prove myself by getting another job.

Three months in and the new paradigm is settling in. Post Christmas I don’t have the fire to keep up the networking – kissing frogs I call it – and so I now need to sit back and reflect on where I want my journey to take me. I’m still not sure what I want next. I consider myself ‘potentially retired’ right now, but in reality, I know I would jump back onto the carousel if and when the opportunity arises.

I would like to think I can accept this new opportunity for what it is and use the change to do what I’ve always said I want to do – write. I’m finding new passions for sure. I’m learning guitar and Spanish, I’ve blown the dust off my old slot car racetrack, I revamped my blog and intend to post again (this being number 1). But can I actually follow through, or will the need to show my ‘ex’ what they lost win through?

Time will tell.

A Walk with The Old Man

The words could be written for Milo. Miss that old fella as much as ever.

Insecurely Confident

20150813_195426

Overcast, but warm

The perfect day to share

We have always enjoyed our walks together

He and I

 

No longer young

He struggles to keep up

But the trail is clear and gently rolling

 

We used to traverse the woods

Over stumps and deadfalls

Ridges and marshes

 

These days we simply stroll

Enjoying each other’s company

And the sweet musky scent of the forest

 

Soaking up the moments we have left

For he is getting no younger

I see it in the gray of his whiskers

And the hitch in his giddy-up

 

He’s always there for me

And I am always there for him

** One of the best dogs I’ve ever had…. 

View original post

Zebedee

“BOING!” said Zebedee, “Time for bed!”

Ah, the childish joys of the Magic Roundabout. by that I mean this Magic Roundabout:

Not this abomination of town planning that the poor people of Swindon have to deal with (as if living in Swindon wasn’t bad enough):

So who amongst my extensive readership has a single clue what I’m rabbiting on about when I talk about Dylan, the pot-smoking hippy rabbit based on Bob Dylan; Ermintrude, the matronly cow; Brian, the simple-minded snail; Douglas, the shaggy dog with a taste for sugar; and Florence, the totty for the younger generation.

I’m sure there was far more of an adult under-current to the series that I was not aware of back in my innocence (or possibly not, but we like to infer a little innuendo as smutty -mined adults).

So in an attempt to ruin your memories of Douglas and co, I will leave you with this revved up version of Jasper Carrot’s Magic Roundabout parody:

“Hello children. It’s a quarter to six. Time for Magic Roundabout…”

“I wonder where Florence is?” said Dougal.

“I’m over here,” said Florence. 

“Hello, Florence,” said Dougal.

“Hello, Dougal,” said Florence.

“Boing!”

“Hello, Florence and Dougal,” said Zebedee.

“Hello, Zebedee,” said Dougal and Florence.

“Hello, Zebedee, Florence and Dougal,” said Dylan.

“Hello, Dylan,” said Zebedee, Florence and Dougal.

“Dylan,” said Dougal.

“Yes,” said Dylan.

“I wonder if Florence is a virgin?”

“Drops ’em for sure,” said Dylan.

“Booinngg!”

“That’s right enough,” said Zebedee.

“How do you know?” said Dylan. “You’re wound so tight you’ve clearly never had a woman.”

“Booinngg!”

Zebedee ignored Dylan’s slur. “Half of Toytown has enjoyed her horizontal pleasures. Let’s face it, Noddy’s the biggest ram round here and he said he scored when they were in Hector’s house,” said Zebedee. “And Big Ears got his name when she pulled his face in so hard they stretched!”

“I can hear you,” said Florence. “It s not true. Noddy and I are just good friends. And Big Ears is just a gossip.”

“Rubbish”, said Dougal. “It’s all over the canteen. Everyone knows about you, you brazen hussy.”

“You lousy old flea-bag,” said Florence. “Call yourself a dog? I’ve seen better hair on a lavatory brush!”

“Booinngg!!”

“Now look here,” said Zebedee. “Things are getting out of hand. Let’s get back to the story-line!”

“It’s a crummy story anyway,” said Dylan stubbornly.

“Booinngg!”

“No, it’s not,” said Zebedee commandingly.

“Who cares?” said Dylan dejectedly.

“Well, I like it,” said Florence, hopefully.

“Well that’s obvious!” said everybody, cockily.

“Booinngg!”

“Now look,” said Zebedee, “let’s try and get it together.”

“Well, I’m not working for that fat-bat any more,” said Dougal. “I’m off to join the Flowerpot men.”

“Good riddance,” said Florence.

“Knickers!” said Dougal. “If you’ve still got any!”

“Ihat’s no way to talk to a lady,” said Dylan (knowing he’s on to a good thing).

“Some lady!” said Dougal.

“Oh, piss off,” said Dylan.

And so Dougal did, all over Florence.

“Thank you for sticking up for me,” said Florence.

“I’ll stick up for you anytime”, said Dylan, with a smile.

“Cheeky!” said Florence. She fluttered her eyelashes. “You know I’ve had a soft spot for you for a long time.”

“I’ve got just the thing for that soft spot,” said Dylan.

“Where do we go from here?”, said Florence.

“Booinngg!!!”

 

And with that, we say “Time for bed” to A to Z for another year.