Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
I recently attended the Southeastern Unitarian Universalist Summer Institute (SUUSI). I gained many insights during the week at the conference, which I will share with you this week.
Have you ever struggled with picking goals? Deciding what you wanted to be doing or where you wanted to be 10, 5 or 1 year from now? Or even struggled with deciding what you wanted to accomplish during the next month?
I routinely struggle with these questions. Covey stymied me. I never got off the ground with David Allen’s altitudes. And yet, I felt guilty because I simply didn’t know what I wanted to do.
Too much steadfastness in sticking to goals can lead to a lot of artificially inflated, self-imposed deadlines. And once we stop believing our deadlines, how can we get things done according to a schedule we made up anyway?
Thanks to my second course at SUUSI, I believe now that goals are not necessarily good for everyone. I spent an afternoon designing “themes”, words that I can judge my current activities by, without imposing fake time constraints on myself.
Themes are a way to be, rather than do. They come from within, and represent a gentle way of changing.
Creating a Theme
Pick a time frame. First pick a time frame to apply your theme. If you start small, you will probably find it easier to decide what to focus on. In our class, we started with “this week”.
Start brainstorming. Start writing down things you would like to focus on. During our class exercise, I was conscious of being very tightly wound up, and frustrated with my daughter’s lack of doing things “my way”.
Choose a one word summary. I searched for one word to summarize what I wanted from the rest of the week. I chose Acceptance.
Review your theme. We explained our themes to another classmate to get feedback. My listener suggested that perhaps Flow would be a better word for what I was trying to accomplish.
Apply. Apply your theme. Give yourself tangible reminders of the theme. For me, it was a picture of a beautiful running stream.
We applied the exercise to the time periods of the rest of summer and the rest of the year. Strangely, I found these easier to come up with. My theme for the summer is Sprouting and my theme for the year is Phoenix (the bird, not the city).
Photo by Crystalline Radical