Mid-February 2018 Newsletter
Hello, and a magical fantastic Mid-February to you!
Is pushing yourself the best way to get there?
Welcome, or welcome back, to my newsletter.
Today's issue has an article about pushing ourselves hard to
reach a goal, how that might be both good and bad.
If you grew up like I did, with 2 hardworking parents
and plenty of chores of my own, as well as homework, you
learned working hard was the way to get things done. We
achieve "by the sweat of our brow", things aren't just
handed to us! The culture around us encouraged hard work
as the path to achievement, success, and happiness. And
some of us, like me, might have taken this programming too
much to heart.
When I started to recognize that I had a tendency to push
myself too hard and be too obsessive about little things,
I wasn't sure how to change it. The only alternative seemed
to be to become lazy, and I knew I wouldn't respect myself then.
I joked to friends that I believed "Anything worth doing is
worth over-doing", trying to make light of my unhealthy pattern.
A college boyfriend and I would discuss the meaning of Life for
hours, and we both scorned any action we saw as taking "the
easy way out".
That's the dilemma for me. When I really want something, I'll
dive in and start striving toward that goal. And when the going
gets tough and I keep on going, am I being tough and persistent,
or blindly bull-headed? In my corporate job as a programmer I
had to fold a software management program into our project. It
would automatically keep track of our code updates, allowing us to
monitor code fixes or back them out. I spent a couple of months working closely
with that programmer, helping him identify and fix problems in his
tracking tool, until I finally said it wouldn't work for us. I
expected criticism for "giving up", when everyone else on my team
asked why it had taken me so long to decide to do that!
Though I still like to push myself both mentally and
physically, I've become more discerning. Will the
activity teach me something or grow my skills, or am I
likely to have a lot of fun with it? Then it's probably
a yes. I can push myself knowing there's gold at the end
of this rainbow, a place I really want to reach. But how
much pushing is too much?
In situations like this, when trying to decide whether to
keep pushing forward or to change direction, I've learned
my feelings can be a helpful guide. Initially I was
optimistic about this tracking tool, based on its sales hype.
Yet the more I dug into its actual performance and features,
the more worried I became that it was too buggy and wouldn't do
what we needed. I should have trusted my sense of foreboding sooner.
In my 20s I dated a man who often sang an old song about soldiers
trudging through a river area called the Big Muddy, following a
commander who kept telling them to "Push on!". They were ankle deep
in the Big Muddy, then knee deep, then hip deep, and so on, with the
refrain after every verse being "And the big fool said to push on".
The soldiers wanted to turn back, and their commanding officer had
too much pride to admit he had been wrong. When I'm pushing myself
too hard, am I being a big fool? If I'm anxious and getting exhausted,
feeling like there's no end in sight, maybe I need to rethink my
approach. There's no shame in changing direction. It's better than being
a big fool!
To read about how I pushed myself to improve my vision, then
learned not to do that,
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You're helping many other people!
Enjoy the second half of your February.
I'll write again in a few weeks. Take care!