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What will you do with the time you have?

September first. Didn’t think we’d get there this fast, did you? 

Looking back, which decisions shaped your year so far? Which are you postponing? 

I always find a memento mori like this useful. 



Tick. Tock. 

As George once remarked, we, humans, overestimate our impact in the short term and underestimate what we can achieve in the long term. 

I find this observation extremely important for decision-making. 

From my experience, the biggest achievements result from sustained effort rather big, spectacular breakthroughs. 

So rather than looking at just the highlights of your year so far, use this moment to capture and follow your habits

List all the small things you did for the things you wanted to achieve.

The type of persistent effort that you put behind projects or challenges in your life.

How you handled moments of tension, crisis or uncertainty. 

Realizing how fast time goes by can easily set off identity crises.

What am I doing with my life?
How can I do more of what I want? 
What is my true calling? 


We all get these. For me, they pop up every 3-6 months or so. They help me adjust course and (hopefully) apply what I’ve learned from experience. 

That’s why I believe observing our actions, reactions, and evolution can bring more clarity, can ground us, and can help us chart our own course, bit by bit. 



The unseen work you do

For example, one of the things you may have not realized you got better at in the past year(s) is emotional labor

Here’s what Seth Godin labels as emotional work: 

“The emotional labor of listening when we’d rather yell.

The emotional labor of working with someone instead of firing them.

The emotional labor of seeking out facts and insights that we don’t (yet) agree with."

I, for one, believe this is the most difficult type of work underlying any type of achievement or success. 


How can this be useful for you right now? 

For the remainder of the year, you can try spotting those areas where conscious, mindful emotional labor can make an impact. 

You may want to work on the relationship with your parents or your manager. 
You might adjust your exercising habits to improve your health. 
Or you could try changing your digital habits to spend less time on social media or on your phone. 


Engaging in emotional labor can be a pathway to better dealing with triggers that lead to bad decisions


A year without Facebook

My personal example involves keeping track of something I haven’t done for a year: use Facebook. 

A year ago I went to Cristina’s and Andrei’s workshop on building and breaking habits and I soaked it all in. I shared what I learned in the newsletter in two parts (part I, part II) and the lessons I learned from them have stayed with me ever since. 

One of the results of attending the workshop was my decision to deactivate and delete my Facebook account. I did it cold turkey, without letting anyone know, without moving important birthdays to my calendar and other preparations. I only downloaded my archive to save pictures I didn’t have anywhere else and that was about it. 

The emotional labor I had to do here consisted of:

  • getting used to dealing with FOMO and work on improving my ability to focus 
  • finding other sources to satisfy the need for connection that I got from being on Facebook
  • strengthening my willpower so it didn’t crave instant gratification as much. 
 
It’s not that I was addicted to Facebook or Instagram (which I stopped using a year and a half ago, although the account still exists). I decided to stop using these social networks when I fully realized their impact on my productivity and mental health. 

There was a time when using Facebook or Instagram was helpful for me but that era ended. It was time for me to move on. 

I poured the time I saved in the last year by not using FB or IG into getting my freelance business off the ground, on spending more time with friends, and by getting involved in other communities. 

For me, it was a great decision whose benefits I will carry into the future. 


3 experiences that highlight what emotional labor looks like 

Now, 

If you’re tiptoeing around a decision you’re scared of making, use this memento mori to see what’s keeping you from committing. 

I created a list of 100 questions to help you break down your own intentions and catch what may be hidden in your blind spots. 

All that’s left to do afterwards is to do the work.


I hope you’ll carry this resolve with you into the next week. 
Andra
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