Too Much Of A Good Thing

I live in a two-level loft unit.  To make life easier for my senior dog I’ve put a second water bowl situated in the upstairs bathroom so that Elvis doesn’t have to stumble down the stairs every time he’s thirsty.

As with any canine companion, Elvis possesses a collection of endearing quirks.  One of these odd behaviors is centered around the upstairs watering bowl:  if the bowl is too full, he refuses to drink from it.  The water will stay at the same level and would start to grow algae if I don’t empty, clean the sides, and fill it with not more than two and a half inches of water.

water bowl

You can see the wheels whirring in his mind as he approaches the bowl, sees the too-high water level, and then turns away.  You’d think having water in plentiful supply is a good thing.  If I were to project my own logic onto him, I’d say he seems to be avoiding too much of a good thing.

And I can understand that.

Sometimes when things are too comfortable we may start to feel that we don’t have to strive as hard.  There’s no incentive to hustle.  Without consequences hanging over our head we can let resources like time and money (and water?) waste away.

I don’t want to say that I believe wholeheartedly in the myth that artists have to be tortured to create genius work, but I will contest that some of my most provocative works have been created under a certain amount of duress.  There’s something about finite parameters that compels one to push beyond personal limits – once comfort sets in and there’s no ramifications to whether we fully strive it can be difficult to not switch over to auto-pilot and just coast along.

“Too much” may the reason I procrastinate: put off writing that paper, prepping that grant, or creating that piece.  Like the dog, I’m repelled because I perceive there is too much – in this case, too much time.

“Too much” may the reason I’m not desperately hustling for money.  I’m currently in a situation where I am being taken care of financially so that I can focus on developing aspects of my practice that have long been ignored.  I’m so grateful, but there is a part of me that wonders if I would be pushing myself to grow even more if I had no choice but to HAVE to make money from my practice.  The old sink or swim scenario.  I worry sometimes that I am taking less risks…because I have water wings on maybe I am comfortably floating in the deep end instead of madly treading water trying to stay afloat on my own steam.

It can be difficult to keep motivated when external factors like deadlines and limited overdraft aren’t present to force you to take action.  I’ve found the trick to staying motivated is to set clear parameters – monitor the level in your water bowl, so to speak. 😉

I’ve begun monitoring my water-level by setting daily and weekly deadlines in Evernote.

It was a bit of a challenge at the start, me being such a paper and pen kinda gal, but I’ve come to love my daily digital checklists.  At the start of the week I take about 45 minutes to create my week’s worth of to-do lists, consulting my quarterly plan to make sure I’m accomplishing what I want to over the next seven days.  I used to write down long paper lists of what I wanted to accomplish at the start of a week, or write down a few things and then try to keep the rest in my mind for writing out lists throughout the week.  The trouble with these two systems was that I was either being overwhelmed and avoiding my tasks, or I was forgetting key tasks that I wanted to accomplish.

Sorting my tasks into daily to-do lists a week at a time has eliminated the burden of overwhelm and has freed me up to be fully present in the task at hand (using Evernote also has the added environmental bonus of consuming less paper, which I love).

What system(s) do you use to monitor your “water-level” and keep yourself motivated during periods of comfort?

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