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November 29, 2023

Episode 15: Book Club | Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman Part 2

In this episode, Sarah and Pam discuss Part 2 of Four Thousand Weeks Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman. If you haven’t read the book, we highly recommend it but you can listen before you read it. If you have read it, listen then leave us a comment about your big takeaways.

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This transcript was generated by AI so please ignore any weird errors. If there is anything really terrible, let us know.

[00:00:08] Pam: This is part two of two of our first book club, and we’ve been covering Oliver Burkeman’s 4,000 Weeks Time Management for Mortals. In the first episode, we covered part one of the book. So if you haven’t listened to that episode, go back and listen. This one will make much more sense if you do. But we did want to do a quick recap of a few of the things that we covered in the last episode, just to catch you up since it’s been a couple of weeks since we released that one.

So in that episode, we covered why time management is important and not in the ways we typically think it is. We talked about some mental shifts that need to happen to think about time differently, so you’re not just trying to do more all of the time. We talked about a few strategies for focusing on what is important and letting go of what’s not.

And we talked about a few ways that Sarah and I have both changed since reading this book. So if you’re following along in the book… Today, we’re going to discuss the second half, part two. And part two is where Oliver really gets into the zen of his approach to time management. And I think a lot of people will stop reading before they get to this part.

Because when you read a book like this, when you’re looking for time management or productivity tips, you’re usually looking for hacks and tricks and kind of the typical productivity things that we think about. But what really needs to happen is what’s called a second order change, which is where you change your perspective and you change how you’re thinking rather than just changing the incremental things that you’re doing.

So that’s what we really get into in this second half of the book is that second order change where you really drastically change the way you’re thinking about your time and your resources and your life and what you want.

[00:02:14] Sarah: Yeah. and I gotta say, I appreciate your comment that some people might drift off after the first part. It’s also a dense book. There’s a lot of information, there’s a lot of content, and it’s not light. I mean, it’s, it’s beautifully written. It’s funny, but it’s not a light read. And in terms of changing perspective, I’ve read a lot of personal development books and I’m in the goal setting business, right?

I have to say, this book really impacted me. The second half, the whole book, but the second half of the book really impacted me. In terms of some of the changes to how I view time, how I view goal setting, and really got me to rethink a lot. So I’m excited to dive in, and I love what you say about the tips because, in fact, it’s only in his appendix that he has listed his 10 tools for embracing your Finitude and even that title, we don’t, we would think of like 10 tips to maximize your productivity, but his tips are really about embracing the fact that your days are numbered.

Right, as a means of shifting your perspective about achievement and time management. So it’s literally the appendix. That’s the only time you’re going to find a list of tips. So that’s a really great point that you made. That it’s not coming in, you know, from the beginning, a list of suggestions. It’s integrated into all of the chapters. And then at the very end, you have this list, which, which was also a great list.

So yeah, the second half of the book, just like the first is super rich and definitely worth discussing.

[00:03:57] Pam: So we start the second half of the book talking about control, which is a sticky subject for me because I am a little bit of a control freak.

[00:04:07] Sarah: You love, control.

[00:04:09] Pam: I love control. I do. So, A big part of the work that I’ve been doing over the last couple of years is letting go of control and, really focusing on thinking about how many experiences I’ve had or how many great things have happened in life that I didn’t actively participate in, that I wasn’t in control of, and how, letting go of that control or just going with the flow has been so rewarding in so many ways and has given me so much less anxiety. So I love that he digs into how, trying to do everything and be everything and experience everything is really just an attempt to control life.

[00:04:58] Sarah: And trying to plan everything in advance. In fact, you’re not in control. Maybe you have an intention of how you want things to go, but you’re participating with the universe, you’re participating with other people, with the weather patterns, with politics, with myriad things. And so thinking that you can plan your way to the best outcomes is really wrong.

I mean, it’s just kind of, it makes you realize, oh, it’s a bit of a joke.

[00:05:28] Pam: Right. Yeah. And so the, like, people could hear that and think like, oh, well then I shouldn’t set goals or I shouldn’t plan anything. I shouldn’t, you know, try anything really. But the idea isn’t to not have goals or a plan or something, constructive that you’re working towards, but it’s that you can’t control the outcome and you can use the tools that you have, you can use the skills that you have, and you can put pieces in place, but you really have to let things unfold as they’re going to and be adaptable and flexible and trust that kind of no matter what happens, you’re going to be okay.

[00:06:17] Sarah: Yeah, I love that last part because I think where we can get tripped up is thinking, okay, well, if I make all the best plans and I don’t have any flaw in my plan, only then will I be fine.

[00:06:34] Pam: Right.

[00:06:35] Sarah: And that doesn’t work that way. Even if all your plans, plans in quotations come to fruition in the way you wanted them to, you still, you might not be okay.

[00:06:47] Pam: Right.

[00:06:47] Sarah: So why not just trust that no matter what happens, you’re going to find your way because you always have up until this point.

[00:06:56] Pam: Right.

[00:06:57] Sarah: And what I like about it, and I find many of the concepts that are presented, it’s a double-edged sword. ’cause on the one hand, you can think of that in kind of a, a dismal, depressing way.

Like, oh my gosh, I can relinquish control because I’m not in charge here anyways. How depressing. But then the, the flip side is, is how liberating .I don’t have to have it all figured out. I don’t have to do it perfectly. It’s not up to me to align everything in just the right way.

[00:07:26] Pam: Yeah, there’s a section where he talks about worry. And I love that he talks about this because part of the reason why this book was so impactful for me. And part of the reason why we’re covering it here on a show called A Little Bit Easier is because one way to make your life feel a little bit easier is to reduce worry, reduce anxiety.

So he says, “Worry, at its core, is the repetitious experience of a mind attempting to generate a feeling of security about the future, failing, then trying again and again and again, as if the very effort of worrying might somehow help forestall disaster. The fuel behind worry, in other words, is the internal demand to know in advance that things will turn out fine”.

And when you think of it like that, it’s, it’s absurd to worry, right? Because you can’t know how anything is going to turn out. And that cycle of worrying and planning and trying to control the future, that’s anxiety. And, It’s stressful. And so I love the crossover here with him talking about this and one of my other books that I talk about all the time, which is Unwinding Anxiety by Dr. Jud Brewer.

And both of them really take this approach of like, you, you gotta go with the flow and you’ve got to let go of that need to control the outcome because no matter what you do, you can’t. And, what if you just accept that things will be fine, even if they aren’t? Even if something bad happens, like you said, you will be fine because you’ve always been fine.

[00:09:01] Sarah: All right. So control, letting go of control.

[00:09:05] Pam: Letting go of control.

And he also talks more about that we, we don’t really have time and that, that the amount of weeks that we get in our life is very few and short. And that this idea of, filling your time with as much as you possibly can, you’re not guaranteed tomorrow.

You’re not guaranteed the next hour. So even if you do control every minute of your life, you don’t have any control over how much of it you get. There’s this, intrinsic struggle that we have to control every minute and it’s futile. And so he says, because it’s futile, you have permission to stop.

[00:09:53] Sarah: So that’s really about the embracing the finitude, right? And one element or one technique that he talked about for embracing the finitude is remembering that this might be the last time for anything. So building on what you were saying around, we don’t know, we don’t know when the end is, we don’t know when we’re going to run out of time.

So why not treat every moment with reverence? And I just thought it was such a beautiful section of the book because it, he talks about this after discussing a baby, right. And sort of the experiences of having a newborn and all of the anxieties that many parents have in making the right choices and seeing how quickly your newborn and your child develops.

It’s like a slap in the face about the passage of time. So that was a moving section for me. And then he says, but this is about everything in life. You don’t know when the last time is that you’ll pick up your child. You don’t know when the last time is that you’re going to go swimming in the ocean.

You don’t know when the last time is that you’re going to visit your childhood home. And I think I actually cried. Like I had tears in my eyes several times within that book because it’s true. You don’t know. And so. Yes, again, on the one hand, that’s emotional, like this idea of letting go. And then on the other hand, it’s a reminder to appreciate if you did know this was the last time you were going to be swimming in the ocean.

Well, how much more attuned would you be to the feeling of the water? How much more would you marvel just at how incredible it is, right? How incredible so many of these moments are. So to me, that was one of the biggest things was about enjoying our presence, really enjoying, really marveling and reveling in, in all of our daily experiences.

[00:11:53] Pam: Yeah. Because the idea of planning is, by nature, living in the future.

[00:11:59] Sarah: Yes.

It’s so obvious, but it’s so true.

[00:12:02] Pam: Yeah, he says, ” we treat everything we’re doing, life itself in other words, as valuable only insofar as it lays the groundwork for something else”.

And that was really profound to me because you’re constantly in the cycle of like, what am I doing today for tomorrow, instead of really just like, what am I doing right now?

How can I embrace this right now? And it brings in a lot of the, stoic and, mindfulness concepts that I have really tried to incorporate a lot in my life of just being calm and centered and here right now. And I find that the more I bring that into my life. The more things work out,

[00:12:46] Sarah: Hmm.

Why do you think that is speak more about like things working out you when you’re in those, that kind of space?

[00:12:53] Pam: In my experience, a sense of calm and a kind of confidence that everything is okay attracts Positive outcomes. And I don’t mean that in like a Secret way, like that whole movement. I just mean when you’re calm and you’re present and you’re interacting with people in a way that makes them feel calm and present and confident, you’re building more rapport.

You’re building trust. You’re building community. You’re kind of building all these connections that result in a positive flow of everything. Information, energy, resources, money. So not always being anxious and on the go and going to the next thing. You’re generating more of an energy that attracts things to you because you’re not leaving.

You’re not moving away. You’re bringing things in. Does that make sense?

[00:13:51] Sarah: So much sense. You’re there to receive. You’re both giving and receiving in that moment.

And something around that presence that I was thinking about, I think that there’s so many sections of the book. So if it, so listeners, if it sounds like Pam and I are all over the place with this, it’s because there’s so many different.

Sections and themes that it’s, I’m obsessed with like categorizing and putting things into buckets. But with this book, there’s like so many parts. You just have to read it. But I think the section is where he says you are here. And again, you know, a familiar principle, but the way it was spoken of. And it’s just building on what you were saying about when, well, when we’re just planning for the future, we’re not actually here in the moment as it’s unfolding and I was reflecting on when I journal, at the very end of the day, the prompt is three things that you’re grateful for, or three things that went well today.

Three highlights of your day. That’s it, three highlights, and almost always, my highlights are these moments that might seem mundane. Like often it’s driving my kids to school, or it might be like walking to the library to return a couple of books or, taking my dog for a walk, finishing something in the garden or, watering in the garden or weeding.

It’s these just moments of the day. It’s not when a big exciting thing has happened or sometimes it will be like, oh, wow, I landed a great client or a really exciting thing came to fruition on my work, or I completed a class and it was great. Sometimes it’s those big kind of excitement generated moments, but often the highlights are these moments and I realized what they have in common is that they’re simple moments where I’m fully present and immersed, and I’m not trying to plan.

I’m not doing a list in my head. I regularly do to do lists in my head.

[00:15:51] Pam: Me too.

[00:15:52] Sarah: It’s like a blank piece of paper in my head, and there’s a pen in there, and it’s writing a to do list. My brain has its own stationery. So, but when I’m doing this, these other things, I’m, I’m not doing that. I’m literally, I have nothing to do except for sit in the car and chit chat with my kids. Then at the end of the day, wow, that was a highlight. Interesting.

So this concept of you are here, just be here. Don’t try to do 50 things. Don’t try to write the list. Don’t try to listen to a podcast every time you’re gardening. Like you can just be here now. Do one thing. And there’s value in that.

And there’s value in appreciating the moment for what it is.

[00:16:38] Pam: I love that you brought that up about the moments that are impactful for you, that they are just sort of simple moments when you’re present. Because I think when we start talking about, being mindful and being present, that brings its own stress and anxiety.

[00:16:58] Sarah: Okay.

[00:16:59] Pam: Like,

[00:17:00] Sarah: like I gotta do it. I gotta do it right.

[00:17:02] Pam: Right! I have to meditate, right? I have to journal, right? I have to be present correctly.

[00:17:08] Sarah: Mm hmm.

[00:17:09] Pam: And, I hear that from people all the time when I talk about journaling. They’re like, well, I’ve tried and it just, it felt like I wasn’t writing the right thing or whatever. And so I really want to drive home that you shouldn’t stress out about being present, that it is just moments, right? You are going to spend your day making to do lists in your head and getting things done. Like that’s just life, but you can work on making space for those moments where you’re just focused on your kids or a conversation with your partner.

Like you start to build in space in your day for those moments and build the capacity to be present in those moments. Because I think that is the issue is that, that there are these moments where you want to be present, but you are pulled in 15 different directions because notifications are going off on your phone and you haven’t responded to that email yet and you’ve still got five things on your to do list and there’s all this noise in your head. So it’s about starting small with these little moments and building kind of resiliency with presence, to be able to stay focused for five minutes, for 30 seconds. So whatever you can fit in. So like, don’t, don’t feel overwhelmed that all of a sudden overnight you have to be the most present person in the world.

[00:18:39] Sarah: Yeah

[00:18:40] Pam: Also, in a recent episode, we talked about processes and things that you can do to maybe make life a little bit more efficient in areas where you have to do things like you have to eat and you have to do laundry and you have to do all these things that are just parts of life. And I find that by processing those things, I create more space where I can be present because I’m not worried about.

What hours am I going to work today? When am I going to make dinner? Like it, it creates time and it creates space where I can be more calm and focused.

[00:19:19] Sarah: What I want to pull out from what you’re saying is it’s not just up to you training your brain to be able to be Zen all the time. You can use processes and tools and strategies. So there’s different methods to do it. And some, like we can sometimes use technology to our advantage, as you said, or there’s different techniques.

Like only work on so many projects at a time or whatever it is. It’s like knowing, okay, I’ve got to support myself. If I want this, if I wanna practice becoming more present for certain amounts of the day, certain times of the day, what can I do to help myself because left to its own device, my brain is just gonna run amok, you know, it’s not like I need help. We all need help.

[00:20:04] Pam: Yeah, really make space in your time, in your day to be present rather than trying to fit presence in as another thing that you have to.

[00:20:13] Sarah: Yes, totally. And then, and then the noticing piece, that’s why I wanted to make the comment about my journal. If it weren’t for that regular exercise of writing in my journal, which again is literally the world’s easiest journal, I The Minute Journal – if it weren’t for that, I might not notice that, wow, these are a highlight.

You know, this is a highlight of my day. This seemingly banal moment was actually a highlight. So again, another plug for some kind of journaling or record keeping so that you can notice. What moments of the day felt good and, and then notice for yourself, are those times were you engaged with a lot of people and in flow in that way, or were you just present on your own?

There’s no right or wrong. It’s just noticing what feels good for you.

[00:21:06] Pam: And talking about what feels good, he also talks about the right to be lazy,

[00:21:12] Sarah: I love that.

[00:21:13] Pam: This idea that, now self care is another thing on your to do list, right? We’ve taken leisure time and turned it into more productivity and another thing that you have to do. And, I love that he just talks about this right to be lazy because I have this urge still that if I’m like taking a nap in the middle of the day, like maybe I’m really tired and I need a nap and CK walks into the room, I will immediately wake up and pretend that I’m not napping. Right? Like, why? I’m an adult who, makes my own

[00:21:50] Sarah: he doesn’t care. Yeah.

[00:21:51] Pam: He doesn’t care. He takes a nap every day. But there’s this part of your brain that’s like, oh, no, no, no, I have to be doing something. Like, if I’m relaxing on the couch, I should be reading a book. It’s like, You really do have to learn to be still more and give yourself that permission to not have to always be reading a self help book or improving yourself in some way it’s okay to just take some time off and sit in the sun, enjoy, you know, your garden, whatever it is.

Not only is that okay, it’s necessary.

[00:22:25] Sarah: Yeah. And so also when he’s talking about rest, it’s also downtime that’s pleasurable for you. And so I like what you’re saying that it doesn’t have to be, oh, I’m, reading a book that has some kind of moral virtue or, something that society is deeming worthy. There’s nothing, nobody’s winning an award for, you know, doing, we think that though, I have to be doing this virtuous thing in my time off.

Like you’re allowed to goof off. It’s fine. Actually a, a girlfriend who I spent some time with over the summer, we were talking about reading and she said, I, I really want to get back into reading and. And I said, Oh, have you tried, this book or this book? And she said, no, but those sound so much fun.

And, she confessed that she always feels that when she’s reading a book, it has to be, a Pulitzer award winning, excellent piece of fiction, which also sometimes I love reading. And I say, well, recently I started reading mysteries and I love reading romance and I just like reading fun, easy stuff.

And she’s like, I want to do that too, you know, so, we had a great conversation about that but… this ties back into this concept of hobbies, but I loved the section, and this was in his rediscovering rest . , I loved this story about Rod Stewart.

So this was an example in the book about somebody having a hobby that just because it’s fun for them. And it’s that Rod Stewart has a very significant hobby. Like he loves this hobby of creating like a model train city.

He has a whole city with like the trains and the buildings and the roads, right? Yeah, it’s quite a thing. And it’s what I, what, what resonated for me about the story is he doesn’t do it to, you know, up his cool factor. It’s not like a, this is, such a cool thing to do. And it’s also not something that he’s particularly good at or wants to, you know, he said that in an interview, I’m not really good at it.

I just like it. And it’s not something that he’s monetizing. So I think often when people find a hobby, it will be like, oh, well, either it’s going to, you know, has some kind of persona that they’re attracted to, right? We are attracted. I can do it too. I’m not trying to say I don’t do that, but we do it because we think it’s. I don’t know, aligned with how we should be or something, or we think it’s going to make us money. We go, Oh my God, it’s going to be a side hustle or it’s going to, somehow make us cool versus just like a hobby that might be considered nerdy that we might not be good at. And that, that, that’s a great thing to do.

So that I love that example.

[00:25:10] Pam: Yeah, that was a great example. He also talks about just not doing anything, like not being distracted by looking at something on your phone, not watching TV, like taking down time where you’re literally not doing anything and how important that is because that’s the time when anxiety goes crazy because as soon as you don’t have all the distraction and as soon as you’re not producing anything, that’s when all the thoughts come in of all the things that you’re not doing and not achieving and na na na na na, you know, and that, that voice that comes into your head and tells you how you’re not good enough. And we have this fear of not being busy and distracted because of that anxiety because it’s so powerful and because we really don’t want to face what the voice is telling us. And, that’s the power of meditation or, a mindfulness practice where you do spend time in quiet reflection. Because you, you have to hear what that voice is saying in order to neutralize it or to investigate if there is anything real there that you need to look into.

But if you’re constantly avoiding the anxiety, it’s always there. It’s always just waiting for you to stop producing and stop moving and it will show up. But if you spend time sitting with it and and not just running away from it all the time. You can neutralize it and you can relax that voice and, that lets you be more present in those moments when you’re with family or, something where you’re not constantly being productive or distracted.

[00:26:56] Sarah: and that’s, that is one of the hardest things to do. And, and so important.

[00:27:02] Pam: Yeah. He talks about how we’re, we fill every hour of our days. with something because we feel like we have to justify our existence.

[00:27:16] Sarah: yeah,

[00:27:17] Pam: And that was, that was really one that hit home because it does feel like, we talk about you have this one short life and, that’s the whole premises of this book is you have this one short life.

So then you can kind of get into this like, well, then I have to do the most with it. I have to do something amazing. I have to leave a legacy.

[00:27:37] Sarah: You’re so right. It’s like the, the common thinking is I have this one short life, so I’ve got to do as much as I can. Whereas he’s really flipping it on its head and saying, you’ve got this one short life, do less,

[00:27:51] Pam: Yeah.

[00:27:52] Sarah: Don’t think you can do it all.

[00:27:53] Pam: Right.

[00:27:55] Sarah: I thought the concept of the legacy was interesting and it ties into one of the other sections that I bookmarked, which was the Cosmic Insignificance Therapy. Which is really, the feeling that we have when we’re out in the country away from light pollution and it’s a clear night and you look up at the sky and it’s filled with stars and it’s so beautiful. Amazing to see. And, and we realized, oh my gosh, I’m just a little speck in the universe.

And that can really, for me and many people just calm the nervous system. Like, oh my gosh, my problems are really surmountable and they’re minuscule. And, and they’re insignificant. Right. And again, not in a way that, I mean, it could be. For me, typically though, it’s not in a way that I feel depressed. It’s more in a way that I feel a sense of relief, like, Oh, wow.

I’m like, I’m, I’m so small. The world is so much bigger. And, he talks about how as humans, we think that we’re the central character of the world story and that’s for our own survival, right? That’s for the human species to survive. But it’s not true. We’re not, we are to ourselves. That’s it.

[00:29:21] Pam: Yeah.

[00:29:22] Sarah: the rest of the world is so much bigger.

[00:29:25] Pam: What that does for me is it makes me realize how much doesn’t matter, right? Like the email that I was stressed out about sending or the, whatever, like the day to day stuff that when you’re focused on it feels like it’s, it is so important. When you step back and you do think about how you’re just this tiny speck of dust and that, in a month, you’re not even going to remember what happened today.

It really is freeing to me because I can kind of just go, Oh yeah, I don’t care.

[00:29:59] Sarah: Yeah.

[00:30:01] Pam: Like, I’m still going to do all the things, but I’m not going to stress out about them. I’m not going to, worry about things that I can’t control. I’m not going to freak out that, I, said I was going to learn to play the piano and then I did it for a month and I quit.

All of that stuff that people get, like, Oh, I, I wanted to do this and I haven’t done it yet.

[00:30:24] Sarah: Yeah. Like literally lose sleep over it and feel guilty.

[00:30:28] Pam: Yeah. Like none of it matters.

[00:30:30] Sarah: Yeah.

[00:30:31] Pam: All that matters is being happy and being here and enjoying you and your people and your time. Really.

[00:30:44] Sarah: You know, he, he talks about it during the cosmic insignificance therapy section, he talks about how briefly humans have been alive. So again, he uses this device of time and reframing time in a way that it can feel arresting to us. So he says that the Egyptian Pharaohs, when we think of them, we think this era was like so impossibly long ago, well, it was actually only 35 lifetimes ago. Or Jesus was born 25 lifetimes ago. Like 25 is a small number, right? So he says, in fact, you’d only need 60 lifetimes to span all of civilization.

[00:31:27] Pam: Yeah. Tiny.

[00:31:29] Sarah: It’s tiny, right? It’s tiny. So again, he says, you know, this realizing this, remembering this can feel like putting down an impossible burden that we didn’t even know that we were carrying,

[00:31:44] Pam: Yeah.

[00:31:46] Sarah: right? You don’t have to save everything, solve everything, do everything right in this very short moment that you have here.

[00:31:57] Pam: He does talk about resilience and sticking with things. When we talk about things, maybe not meaning anything and this, idea that nothing really matters because we are just a little blip in the universe, then you can kind of start to feel like, oh, well, then I can just, do anything and nothing matters.

And I can, not focus on anything, but he really talks about, building endurance and being comfortable in discomfort and that, if something’s meaningful to you, it’s going to be uncomfortable to say no to other things that keep trying to get on your to do list and to, really carve out the time that you want to focus on this thing, but we need to build that resilience and that ability to focus on what is actually meaningful and stay in that discomfort of not knowing what you’re doing and not knowing what the end result is going to be and just saying, I want to do this thing because I want to do this thing. This makes me happy. I want to spend time on this today. And you’re going to figure out the next step. You’re going to learn something. The process of just doing it. Is the reward. And I think it’s so easy for us now because of all the distraction and because of all the things that we have going on in our lives to have that thing that you want to accomplish.

And it feels too big and it feels like you don’t even know where to start. And so it’s really uncomfortable to work on it. So you avoid it. And the big lesson here that we’ve been talking about is, with your precious time, what do you want to do? And so if you have that big thing, it’s not about just carving out time to do it.

It’s about being uncomfortable and knowing that this is going to be difficult and I’m going to stick to it. Like making that commitment to yourself.

[00:34:07] Sarah: Yeah. Was this the section that was staying on the bus?

[00:34:11] Pam: Yes.

[00:34:12] Sarah: I, that section really resonated with me too.

[00:34:15] Pam: Yeah. You called out in our notes his three principles of patience.

The first was developing a taste for having problems.

[00:34:23] Sarah: Yes, yes, develop a taste for having problems. He said it somewhere else, or someone he referred to in the book said, life is a series of problems to be solved. And as soon as we accept that, we don’t think it’s a problem to have a problem. It’s like, of course I do, instead of like, oh my God, another problem.

That’s life, right? Great. That’s, that’s really what we’re here to do. So don’t make a drama about the fact that there are problems.

[00:34:50] Pam: Things aren’t going to go according to plan. You are going to figure out how to deal with it and you should just more often than not expect that things aren’t going to go according to plan.

[00:35:01] Sarah: Expect problem. Yeah. Okay.

[00:35:03] Pam: problems. Yep. Absolutely. I love that one.

[00:35:06] Sarah: So that’s the first step of the three steps to patience. Okay, what was the second one?

[00:35:11] Pam: The second is embrace radical incrementalism, which basically means, work on something for a finite amount of time and stop.

[00:35:22] Sarah: Yeah.

I love that he says stop.

[00:35:25] Pam: Yeah. Don’t let it balloon into this thing where you’re like, Oh, I have to work on this for five hours every day. That’s too much. It’s overwhelming.

It’s going to burn you out. It’s just going to cause more problems than it creates solutions. So if you commit to, I’m going to do this for 10 minutes and stop, then you are more likely to stick with it because you’re going to come back the next day, not exhausted. You’re going to come back fueled to continue on.

[00:35:54] Sarah: Beautiful. So, expect problems. Be really committed to working on it every day for a finite amount of time.

And third

[00:36:02] Pam: is stay on the bus. It says creative solutions only begin once you’ve had the patience to sit through the earlier stages.

[00:36:11] Sarah: Yeah.

[00:36:11] Pam: So at the beginning of the project, you’re really excited and so you sit down and you make your plan and you’re ready to go and then you do a little bit of work and then it starts to get hard. Right? There’s always that phase where your excitement wears off and then you actually have to do the work. And you’re like, Oh, this sucks. And that’s the point where it’s really easy to start, saying, Oh, I’ll come back to that later. I’ll come back to that later. And then five years go by and you never came back to it because you weren’t committed to doing the hard part and breaking through that difficulty to get to the point where you start to have the breakthroughs and the creative ideas and the solutions that you couldn’t possibly have known at the beginning because you had to go through everything else to get to where you are.

[00:36:59] Sarah: Exactly. And so it’s this reminder that creativity takes time. It takes patience and commitment. And again, that’s why we can’t do everything. We can only do a couple of things with our finite time.

And I was thinking about that concept for some practical examples. For example, in my coaching business, At the beginning of my coaching business, it was the beginning of the bus ride. So it’s using, tools and templates as I was taught in my coach’s training, doing it over and over again with new clients, seeing results, learning from it.

And then with time, as I’m on the bus for longer, okay, well, maybe I’m going to evolve it. Maybe I’m going to include this teaching concept around communication. Maybe that will bring some new value. Oh, maybe we could change this framework. Right. And that creativity I never could have come up with in my first month of coaching, or on my first month of teaching, because I hadn’t had all of that material of sort of repetition and observation to create something new from.

[00:38:10] Pam: Experience creates creativity.

[00:38:13] Sarah: Yeah. And, and really this, the value of deepening our learning about something. That spoke to me instead of like, Oh my gosh, I need everything. It’s like really, really to deepen what we’re doing and then see the richness and the opportunities there.

[00:38:31] Pam: So one of the questions that he has in the book that you can ask yourself when you’re thinking about, What you do want to dedicate your time to and what bus you want to stay on is, “does this choice diminish me or enlarge me”? And I love that because it reframes the decision because there are a lot of things in your life where you can’t say, like, does it add value or not?

Because it might add value, or, would I enjoy it or not? You might enjoy it. That’s, that’s all things that you may want to say yes to. And they’re those middling priorities that we talked about in the last episode that are really hard to say no to. But this question of, does it diminish me or enlarge me?

It really frames it more, in terms of, how does it fill me up? How does it make me feel bigger and better and fuller and happier and, all those things that kind of, make you stand up like this instead of like, Oh, it’s an obligation, it’s another thing that I have to do.

So he says to choose uncomfortable enlargement over comfortable diminishment, whenever you can.

[00:39:44] Sarah: Yeah.

[00:39:45] Pam: So in the afterward he says, “you could think of this book as an extended argument for the empowering potential of giving up hope. Embracing your limits means giving up hope that with the right techniques and a bit more effort you’d be able to meet other people’s limitless demands, realize your every ambition, excel in every role, or give every good cause or humanitarian crisis the attention it seems like it deserves.

It means giving up hope of ever totally feeling in control or certain that acutely painful experiences aren’t coming your way. And it means giving up, as far as possible, the master hope that lurks beneath all this, the hope that somehow this isn’t really it, that this is just a dress rehearsal and that one day you’ll feel truly confident that you have what it takes”.

Oof. And that could be the takeaway. But what I really want people to walk away with is not the feeling that it’s hopeless, but the feeling that it’s empowering to put your time and energy into the things that you can have an impact on, and that you do want to have an impact on, and that you can’t do everything. And that by trying to do everything you’re really not doing anything as well as you probably want to or could and that that need to do more and to focus everywhere except on the big scary thing that you want to do is really a strong pull and it has to be a conscious decision every day of what is making me happy, what is fulfilling me, and what do I really want to be spending these precious weeks on.

[00:41:46] Sarah: Yeah.

It’s empowering to pick it for yourself and to own it. And it’s also freeing to let go of everything else.

[00:41:58] Pam: Yeah. I like that you said to pick it for yourself because there is so much that we are bombarded with all day. Everything that’s asking for our attention and to constantly be reactionary and to be chasing every little thing that is vying for your attention, it does feel very powerless. So taking that ownership and that Autonomy back of what you want to do with your time is very empowering.

I like that.

[00:42:34] Sarah: It’s a great book. There’s so many details and so many nuggets and I hope that everyone who’s listening or watching was able to be impacted by some of the details that we chose to share. It was such a rich book that we decided to offer it in two different episodes and really we could talk about it for many more hours.

So I really invite everyone to check out the book and see what you take from it.


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