It Is Not The Thought That Counts
I don’t know about you but I am my own worst enemy and my biggest critic. I mention this because today I heard someone say it is the thought that counts and I rolled my eyes.
It wasn’t because I was upset with them but because I am irked with myself. I have a dozen different ideas that are banging around inside my head but I have only taken action on a few of them.
Been thinking about whether this is an acceptable place to be and I keep coming up with snake eyes.
It is not acceptable.
More action is required and less time wondering, waiting and researching. That is not to say that I am the sole reason for the lack of progress in some areas because that is not true either.
Sometimes life gets in the way. Sometimes shit happens and you stop chasing the dream of becoming the world’s greatest dad blogger as declared by Babble and three editors.
Got these little people who live with me who need attention. Little people who want to ride bikes, need help with their homework and want to talk about why people would fly planes into buildings.
Truth is they are probably my favorite excuses to set aside work and ignore the projects that I want to be playing with. Time moves ever so quickly and soon they won’t have the same interest and time so I don’t want to miss out now.
I Don’t Want To Say
I don’t want to reach a place where we realize that we haven’t spent enough time together and I tell them that I meant to do it. My children aren’t going to hear me say it is the thought that counts because that is just not acceptable.
This is the beginning of the homestretch for 2012 and I don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to make one last push. I feel the clock tick tocking the moments away like I have never felt it before and it is making me a little bit crazier than normal.
Can’t help but think that when I was a kid if I would have understood how fast time moves I wouldn’t have wasted a moment. I think that is what is driving me right now, the feeling that I am not being productive in the areas I want to be.
That is not to say that I am not getting things done because I am, but it is not enough. It is just not enough.
A Silly Confession
Some people say that when you get older you begin to mellow out but I am beginning to feel like I skipped that lesson. I could swear I am becoming more competitive than I ever was and I don’t totally understand it.
I never liked losing much but lately I really hate it. So I find myself wanting to go full bore in everything and that just doesn’t make sense. Really, in the grand scheme of life what difference does it make if I win or lose at Scrabble or pick up basketball.
It really doesn’t. There are no medals or awards to be had and though I understand that my reaction sometimes surprises me. I just hate losing, especially when I feel like I could have beaten them if I had just pushed a little bit harder.
Maybe this drive to push myself harder comes from feeling a bit like I have gotten sucker punched in a few areas. Maybe it is because some of the reasons why I haven’t been as productive as I would like are things that were outside of my control.
That could be it, control that is. Maybe this is just me pushing to take control of the areas that I know I can run.
Ultimately I am not going to spend much time wasting time wondering why I feel this way. That is because my gut says the way to handle this is to just get shit done. Work around the roadblocks and challenges and make things happen.
As part of that process I might do something that I don’t normally do: make a list.
I am not a list maker. I am not the guy who makes list of successes but maybe I need to review it. Maybe I should look. Certainly can’t hurt.
Anyhoo, it is time to catch some shut eye. Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Samuel Bochners September 16, 2012 at 4:11 pm
I know people who use the excuse, it is the thought that counts, and they make excuses for themselves, when they do things wrong and they also tend to blame other people. However, I am the total opposite, I am too harsh on myself when I do something wrong and blame myself, even when it is not my fault.
Jens P. Berget September 16, 2012 at 11:22 am
I’m my biggest critic as well. And I keep trying to improve in every way I can, but the problem with improving is focus and understand what you want to accomplish. That’s what I’ve been struggling with lately. I understand now, probably because I’m 40+, that I can’t be awesome in everything. So, now I need to focus on a few areas of life that I want to be really good at, and I know that one is being a dad…
Jack September 16, 2012 at 1:39 pm
You make a good point about focus. Focus is what provides us with the ability to become better and to improve in those places we feel need to improve in because as you said it is impossible to be everywhere.
And focusing upon being a better dad is awesome. There is nothing more important.
Kristen September 13, 2012 at 10:33 am
I’ve been having some of these same issues myself – the not getting stuff done issues, not the competitiveness issues – and I find the only way I ever get myself on track is to think of the tiniest task I could possibly do to get myself started. For me, I build momentum from a small victory so even some minuscule like making a phone call or putting away a basket of laundry helps get me started.
But then again I usually forget this idea when I’m at my most stalled…
Jack September 13, 2012 at 9:46 pm
There is much to be said for small victories.I think they are sometimes underrated. It is an effective way of building momentum and confidence and it is done in a way that is not harmful.
That is a good thing and well worth doing.
Joe September 13, 2012 at 9:14 am
Heard a little ditty on the radio this morning that men who are “successful”, like Belichik and UConn’s Jim Calhoun, who retired today, have a little bit of “jerk” in them. And that’s part of what drives them to success, especially in male dominated industries. You can’t be all flowers and rainbows and expect to move ahead.
Not sure if I agree with that assessment, but I do agree with YOU… that as I’ve aged, I’ve not gotten any mellower. I think I’m going in the opposite direction as well, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing. Whether it’s competition or striving to be the best dad you can, it’s important to have an edge, a chip on your shoulder. That way you stay alert, focused, and ready for what the world dishes out. Which isn’t always pleasant.
Kristen September 13, 2012 at 10:29 am
As I lifelong UConn fan, I’d suggest that Jim Calhoun has a lot of “jerk” in him. 😉
Joe September 13, 2012 at 2:23 pm
Yes, I agree…but he built one hell of a baskeball program!
Jack September 13, 2012 at 9:41 pm
Crazy Cal had a lot of success with his nonsense, there is something to be said for that.
Jack September 13, 2012 at 9:44 pm
I wonder about that edge and just how much we need to push ourselves to hit that next level. I think it does keep us alert and it helps to push to obtain things we want. What is the cost for using it and holding onto it.
There is always a price to be paid. Maybe this one isn’t all that bad, sometimes I wonder.
bridgetstraub.com September 13, 2012 at 7:01 am
I think wanting to control what we can, when so much feels out of control is exactly right.
Jack September 13, 2012 at 9:40 pm
Some people do really well when they stop fighting for control. Others need to take a different approach and try to hold on with two hands but not so tightly they make themselves nuts.
Not sure if that makes sense but.
Sandi Amorim September 13, 2012 at 6:16 am
I’ve been reading a fair bit on neuroscience lately and it seems there’s stronger and stronger evidence that as a species we’re wired for negativity. It takes doing something different to break that pattern, so yes, make the damn list. Write down every single thing you’ve done, completed, been satisfied by, woohoo’d and celebrated. We don’t do this enough in life.
And we don’t usually encourage kids to do this either. Instead we tell them to settle down, don’t show off, and all the other crap lines. Makes my blood boil a bit!
So be a bull in a china shop for your success. I’ll be watching to cheer you on!
Jack September 13, 2012 at 9:35 pm
I am on it. Haven’t written anything down yet but have begun compiling the list. It is not a bad exercise. When you start to work it out there is something very cool about realizing how many good things there are in your favor.
Since I am a Taurus I am especially happy and willing to be that bull in the china shop. 😉
Bill Dorman September 13, 2012 at 4:55 am
So, you’re ‘that guy’ that drove me through the wall at the gym and made me reply ‘what’s up with that guy?’
It’s probably natural to want to ‘drive’ a little harder when you feel your destiny, your true calling is just out of your reach. You can see it, feel it and even taste it, but just quite can’t wrap your arms around it.
And then you throw ‘life’ on top of it and all that is brings.
Sometimes maybe you do just need to be a bull in a china shop because you see that door on the other side, and one way or another, you are going to get there…..
Jack September 13, 2012 at 9:30 pm
I just might be him. Some of the fellas ask me if I have to play at full speed, but I think they give me more credit than I deserve. I am just not that graceful. Can play hard or easy, not in between.
I identify with the description of being able to almost wrap my arms around destiny and boy is she pretty. 😉
Nah, I really do feel a bit like I am trying to grab a handful of smoke. So close yet so far and the only thing I can do is try to work harder and hopefully smarter. I see it as a combination of making my own luck and opportunity.
Bell September 13, 2012 at 3:48 am
Actually, your brain cares whether you win or lose and it doles out pain or pleasure as if they were little awards/chastisements.
I’ve been training mine to feel the pleasure of a finished project, so I can start delivering more. Thoughts do count, but execution counts so much more. Nobody’s going to praise you for the thoughts that stay in your head. Theodor Adorno was a brilliant philosopher but, if he’d kept his theories for the coffeehouse, then a) nobody would listen for very long and b) he wouldn’t have become a great philosopher.
Execution + structure + progressive depth = eventual success. Maybe not monetary success, but success of some kind. It could be that the only kind of success there is, is recognition from the people around you, and all other kinds of success flow from that.
If unrealized thoughts counted more than actions, then they’d break through the barrier of indifference most artists and writers/bloggers face when they start working. They don’t. People want to see *your act*, and who can blame them. If you don’t put on the act, there’s nothing for them to appraise or understand.
Jack September 13, 2012 at 9:26 pm
I suppose the burning question we need to ask is what sort of stimulus do we need to feel good about ourselves and our work. Is it validation from peers and fans, cash, medals etc.
If we can identify that or those things and facilitate that happening more frequently perhaps it will provide greater incentive to do the things that make that happen for us.
Unused and unrealized potential makes me crazy. It is my own demon that I pay attention to, but I see a point and a purpose to it. Certainly less dangerous than other addictions…
Blogging is a good way to explore some of these things, but I digress.