Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Design Flaw or User Error?: Giving Up Too Easy

I woke up late, already behind on the needs of the day.  Then a chain reaction occurs where the priorities pile up, children demanding attention, deadlines come and go, and all I want to do is hide and cry.  The temptation is to instead invest too much time into a better plan or routine.  Perhaps I just haven't found the right approach or mindset.  So, google and pinterest become my best friend.  Or I decide that I need a new planner or labeler.  Suddenly, I HAVE to go to Target or Hobby Lobby.  Time has gotten away from me, but at least I have a new plan, right?

This scenario or some version of it has been part of my response for years, probably a couple of decades now.  I love January first because it's the ultimate do-over.  Start fresh with a new approach or at least new colors!  And there is nothing wrong with giving yourself a boost with new office supplies.  Seriously, it's fun and motivating so please don't mistake me as saying revamping your approach is a bad idea.  What I'm afraid of is the purpose it plays in my life.  Not as much of a helper as much as a distraction.

When there's too much to do and not enough time to do it, I want to say the system is broken.  Sitting down and doing as much as you can despite the sand running out feels icky and wrong.  In reality, it is called perfectionism.  I passionately desire things to go and work beautifully, as they were designed to do.  When they don't, it must be a design flaw, not a user error.  Getting a new 'design' might help a few things or perk up my mood, but it doesn't truly address the problem.  The problem of getting my hands dirty and working hard anyway, even when it doesn't suit my preference.

This is a real, daily struggle for me sometimes, just in balancing housework, children and showering!  But I think it may be a problem for us in bigger proportions.  When working with other people, in families, in congregations, in projects of just about any kind, how often do we get distracted and convicted that the only way to continue is to change the design, get new people or get everyone new office supplies, so to speak?  Working together with certain people who are so different than us is hard.  It takes patience, a lot of self-control, and more humility than we're typically willing to give.  So much more that we don't usually stick around long enough to try.  Get a new planner! Label things differently! Maybe that will make this easier, we think.  The truth for me is that I don't like it when things don't work perfectly.  I don't like having to adjust, accommodate or give up anything.  So, I blame the system or circumstances and try to make a different one.  That might not be so bad if it worked.  But here I am 20 years later and it still doesn't always get things done or prevent imperfect events.

We give up too easy.  It's really that simple.  If you find yourself frustrated with someone (a friend, a leader, a group of people, etc.) or a circumstance (health/weight, sin, debt, etc.), it is probably terribly tempting to blame the system or people out of your area of control or influence.  But they probably are not the problem.  We can argue about it, but in most situations, the problem is you.  I want it to be easy more than I want it to be.   After J was born, I struggled to lose my baby weight.  I struggled a lot.  And I blamed a lot of things for too long as the cause.  The truth was that I didn't want to work as hard as it took.

Whenever you decide to make a change toward something easier, consider that as a warning sign.  It might not mean the easier thing is bad, but you can count on it meaning you're trying to distract yourself from a deeper problem.  Even if you make a change, and it is a great change, it's foolish to ignore what brought you to make a change in the first place.  

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