Getting to Your Best-Fit Pace

wedge class

To do any sustained work, a pace has to be selected. A pace can be very light, say: “I will work on my project on Saturday afternoons from 1 until 5.” Or it can be quite dense: “I will work every day from 10 am till 1:30 pm.” The latter pace is something for pros and semi-pros to keep up with. The rest of us shoot for a middle pace: “I will work two days during the work week and four hours on Saturday or Sunday.”

Pace is like a wedge. The wedge/pace will, by necessity, move things out of the way.What it moves is everything we are doing before interjecting a working pace into our lives. It has to be this way because: 1. everything takes some time, 2.our time is limited to so many hours in the day, 3. two things can not occupy the same time slot. I know what you are thinking: “I can multi-task; I can fill one time slot with 5 things.”  We are talking about high quality effort and creative exploration here, not knocking things off the to-do-list. Quality work is demanding and will not share time slots with something else. With this new activity, our old lives will be changed. Lower priority activities will be dumped or crunched and our creative work will assume that time. Something(s) will have to give.

If you are thinking that you have “free time” so you can work this pace in without any giving whatsoever, that is not true. Our free time has been carefully, consciously and unconsciously sculpted over many years. “Not doing” is still doing something with your finite amount of time. Our unconscious is more in control during free time than is our will and reason of our conscious mind. The unconscious is doing things with this time whether we realize it or not.

Pace changes our life and change is not easy. No matter how strong we want to do something or how ready we think we are, adding something new with a regularity takes a lot of work to assimilate into our lives and to adjust many of things we were doing before that addition. Returning to wedges, pace wedges up-turn the prior order of our lives. If we set the pace way too high, which almost out of a universal law, we always do, some our energy goes to sorting out a new order. If we are pacing to high, our cat will get angry because it feels ignored, our clothes will hang more often at the dry cleaners than in our closets, and our bills will have bills. Many things get stirred up to the point we are finding that we are spending increasing amounts of time and worry playing clean-up, catch-up, and repair of what and who the wedge has moved aside. So, just as we cut loose with a pace, again, 99% too high, we have to juggle our creative work at greater intensity and the wedge-victims, sentient or not.

Why do we set pace too high? Because we are ambitious and because we have no real knowledge of what each level of pace entails. For instance, lets assume (and that would be right) I want to loose weight. Twenty pounds has a nice ring to it. Twenty shows I’m really serious and it is a nice even unit of measure (whoever sets their sights on losing 18.79 lbs?). Also I “ought” to lose that much and I “should” be able to do it. With that pace target in mind, I pick up something like: The Bollywood Fast and Easy Diet Plan. In that writing I learn that I “should” be able to lose 2 lbs per week because the author’s sample group, stars and starlets in India were able to accomplish this feat. Let’s review: the first part of my pace was set because 20 lbs has a good ring to it and the second part of my pace, shedding two pounds per week, comes from stars and starlets of India. What do you think my odds are to hit my pace, right out of the gate, to have a smooth and easy transition making this lifestyle change, and to hold to the pace most weeks?

Odds are low (or is it just me?). Not because of lack of discipline, that can be there as well, but because of the unexpected turmoil and unanticipated complexity of what I want to do. Not only do those things catch me off guard, I have little practical experience with the required logistics and how my body and mind will handle these changes. Very early on I will feel that something is wrong and I won’t understand why I can’t hit the pace and handle the changes. I will fail a lot. I will be filled with doubt about the diet but especially about me. Why can’t I do this?  What’s wrong with me?  With lots of failure, confusion and self-downing, the conditions are ripe for me to give up on this diet and perhaps any diet.

Getting to Your Best-Fit

1. Sit down for five minutes and talk to yourself about how pace setting is a refinement process. That it will take time to get it right, for you. Also, talk to yourself about how you will be failing a great deal in the coming days, weeks, and months and that is o.k. It really is o.k. You will work hard to hit the pace but you are also working hard to adjust towards the best fit for you.

2. Set an initial pace. Stop! Don’t implement it! It will be wrong for you!

Do one of these:

– Adjust Downward – Take your initial pace that you think is “sensible”  and cut it in half. Next, cut that in half. Use what remains for your pace for a week or so. If you can’t keep up, cut the pace in half. Once you can hit the pace more often than not, adopt that as what works for you.

– Adjust Upward – Pick the most absurd smallest pace you can think of. Do that for three days. Only when you have done the most absurd pace are you allowed to adjust that pace.  Think of three other absurd small steps and add them to your initial absurd pace. Do that for a week. Continuing adding small chunks until you hit the right pace.

3. Observe everything, every time you use a trial pace: what happened when you worked at that pace; how close you got to it; what held you back; what supported you; what got wedged out of the way to make room for the pace.

4. Adjust downward or upward again and roll-out your new pace.

Watch how your feel about the pace. If it is still driving you nuts after a week or two, adjust. If the other things in your life can’t handle you working this pace, adjust.
If you are more frequently than not, missing your pace, adjust. If you feel in pain, overwhelmed, guilty, self-critical, and ready to quit, immediately adjust. If your creative work feels dead or wrong, adjust. If your creativity had been flowing easily before this pace and now it runs like molasses, adjust. If you are always scrambling to make up for missed work sessions, adjust.

5. S…l…o…w…l…y… you will find a reasonable pace that is your pace. Keep adjusting until you got it.

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