Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Less is More, and other Hippy Shit

I recently read Leo Babauta's "The Power of Less."  Actually, I listened to the audio book, for those who may feel that the distinction is important.  This is not a full review, but there were a few important points that I wanted to touch on.  The main themes include minimalism, frugality, simplicity; all of which appeal to me these days. 

My caveat about recommending the book is that I sincerely feel that Babauta often gives advice on topics that he is far from an expert on.  His suggestions on how to handle email or projects would have gotten me fired at any employer I have worked for.  His tips on fitness, nutrition and excercise are dubious at best, and certainly aim at the lowest common denominator of health levels.  During these sections, I found myself wishing that he would stick to what he is an expert in. 

With that bet well-hedged, I will say that he has some excellent tips on goal-setting.  Like many people I know, I will get my head and heart all a'flutter with a million things to work on, improve, and adopt.  I want to accomplish literally hundreds of goals, and I want to work on them all NOW.  The inevitable failure is spectacular, my good intentions blown to smithereens, and the resulting disappointment leaving me gasping for breath and rocking on my heels in the living room.  Babauta's advice is simple, as one would expect from the book's title.  One goal at a time.  This actually works.  Determining and focusing on one major goal at a time allows you to give it complete attention.  I started the month with a gameplan for the goal, am sticking to it, and write/journal about it at the end of the day.  When temptation inevitably comes, I find it much easier to stay strong, as I remind myself that this is the ONLY thing I HAVE to be disciplined about for now. 

As it currently stands, I plan on focusing on one major goal per month.  After 30-31 days of completely prioritizing that one thing, my feeling/hope is that a habit has been developed, and I can relegate it to "maintenance status."  I can then pour my energy into the next area. 

Heres my current least, as I see it today.

September - Private Goal
October - Becoming an early-riser
November - Minimizing time spent on social media

If you read Babauta's book, you will find at least a few tips that should make a positive difference in your life, assuming of couse that you actually put them into practice.  That being said, much of the content seems to be recycled, such as the productivity tips that seem to be borrowed straight from David Allen's "Getting Things Done."  I found it to be worth a read despite this, as the goal-setting sections alone were worth the time invested. 


linda said...

I'm definitely one of those people who make A LOT of goals at once.

I'm not sure I can focus on only one goal a month but I am inspired to focus on fewer.

finally your opening line made me smile. "I recently read Leo Babauta's "The Power of Less." Actually, I listened to the audio book, for those who may feel that the distinction is important. "

katrina kay said...

good luck with the goals! i became an early riser by virtue of work...xD

and now that i'm on my trip, i camp a lot and there's pretty much nothing to do other than sleep early..

Venom said...

Okay, what I got from all that was that you want to break up with us, but that you won't actually do it until November.
Thanks for the heads up.

Anonymous said...

Naturally, I am intrigued by this "private goal," although I am sure my ideas about what it may be are far more interesting and amusing than what it really is. Sigh.

Also, I have been telling you all along to K.I.S.S. and worry yourself about mini-victories, such as not stabbing BOTH feet with your grandma's spear and figuring out how to put your BBQ grill together. Glad you've finally decided to listen (literally!)...

mef said...

I will try not to now comment all over your blog (you can blame Linda if I do), but my only quibble with this mentality/method is that it leaves little acknowledgment for failure. And don't give me crap about not quitting. Sometimes things don't work or should fail. I'm an engineer/scientist. Failure is good and expected. I totally get the 1 variable at a time thing, but disagree with the strict discipline to that variable.

Also, I love you a little for the audiobook comment.

Martin said...

Linda - That first line was for you. Seriously.

Regarding the focus of one goal, I still have other things that I work on, but have ONE major goal that I prioritize over everything else (self-improvement related)

Katrina - I hear you on the camping situation. Regarding the work causing you to be an early riser, its a big help. When I worked for the Marriott, my shift would start at 6am. Now Im waking around 7:15-7:30, and would like to get down to around 5:30-6.

Venom - I would NEVER.

Clara - Havent stabbed myself since the last time...knock on wood.

Mef - Please, comment away. I disagree with you here though. I see a big difference in "failure" from the perspective of a scientist compared to the perspective of one looking at life and personal goals. If something is a goal of mine,I have looked at why I want this and determined that it is important to me. If I am quitting smoking for example, a lapse does not indicate "game over," but a renewed effort to tackle that goal again. Failure in a science experiment is expected and acceptable because you do not know the answer yet. Your experiments will fail until/if you find the answer. A comparable mentality would be you deciding to have a goal of adhering strictly to an objective standard of quality in your research.

Now, if I decide that quitting smoking is no longer important to me, than it is no longer a goal as opposed to a failed goal.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say that I love your blog. Good luck with the goals! I tend to revise as I see fit... It's very convenient.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say that I love your blog. Good luck with the goals! I tend to revise as I see fit... It's very convenient.

There was an error in this gadget