To say that I am indecisive is stating the obvious to anyone who knows me. Sadly, this has been confirmed by diagnostic evaluations. Recently I ran across the test that my husband and I took as part of our pre-marital counseling. What I hadn’t seen as a red flag then, in hindsight, now went up like a flare. On this particular psychological evaluation, we both scored very low on proactivity. After 32 years of marriage, I know why. We are very good at thinking and re-thinking things to death. We do, however, share a common strength. We are both creative. In everyday life, aside from being able to imagine endless possibilities, we are very curious, and like to know how things are done or can be accomplished. Equal or secondary to that, I’m what is known as a “Banker”. I value doing things correctly, and want to have all the facts before proceeding, particularly when venturing into new territory. My husband is less concerned with having all the facts than he is concerned about relationships and people. Our shared values can be assets, for sure, but without a “Decide and Do” component, all of the creativity, facts, and good intentions we bring to the table, are left setting idle. And without action, we second guess what is already on the table, look up more information, and pile more ideas on the table until we have a mess of possibilities and are utterly frozen, not knowing what to do next.
We’ve been told that these bents are “hard-wired”. They are a part of who we are, and as such we need to be intentional about stepping away from our defaults and into our weaker areas; one of which is the aforementioned area of Decide-and-Do.
I know I spend way too much time trying to figure things out. For the time that I’ve spent trying to figure out a basic meal plan that could function on a rotation, I should have a map of thirty-one meals to revolve through, and know each recipe by heart. I’ve spent countless hours perusing magazines, books, and Pinterest, looking for the best way to organize, simplify, and “do-it-myself”, and I still don’t have it figured out, which in my default, is a prerequisite to taking action. So I never get there.
At the dawn of this new year, I declared 2014 “The Year of Decide and Do”. I’ve decided (because I can, even though I’m not good at it) to be intentional about placing objective criteria on my days, that limit the defaults, and emphasize action. I’ve drawn inspiration from author Stephen Covey, in a backwards kind of way. In his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, his seventh habit is “Sharpening the Saw”.
Suppose you were to come upon someone in the woods working feverishly to saw down a tree. “What are you doing?” you ask. “Can’t you see?” comes the impatient reply. “I’m sawing down this tree.” “You look exhausted!” you exclaim. “How long have you been at it?” “Over five hours,” he returns, “and I’m beat! This is hard work.” “Well, why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen the saw?” you inquire. “I’m sure it would go a lot faster.” “I don’t have time to sharpen the saw,” the man say emphatically. “I’m too busy sawing!”
Habit 7 is taking time to sharpen the saw. It surrounds the other habits on the Seven Habits paradigm because it is the habit that makes all the others possible.
I think I have a handle on this habit. Problem is, I would be known as the crazy lady in the woods, that won’t ever stop sharpening her saw. ”She talks about cutting that tree down someday, but she never thinks her saw is sharp enough. The other day she was wondering if it would be better to go at it with an axe. Last week, she was asking around about explosives, but was discouraged by safety concerns,” and so on. This year I am choosing to limit the time I spend “sharpening the saw” and to be more intentional about doing. No doubt, in an effort to do more, there will be times when I might not make the best decision, or best prioritize what to do, but more often than not, moving and doing will be more productive than sitting on the couch or at the computer trying to decide what to do.
To be clear, this is doing in the interest of counteracting a naturally tendency to paralyze, as I overanalyze. Doing in this sense, is not synonymous with striving, trying to measure up, or be enough. That’s another issue entirely. The Year of Decide and Do is about balance. Opening the door where my gifts and talents are caged, and allowing them to “just fly!”