4-3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to my Mindset Mondays Post! The only weekly newsletter that expresses gratitude after forcing you to concede…

Following a 4-3-2-1 approach, it contains 4 thoughts from me (that you should probably ignore), 3 quotes from others (that you should definitely read), and 2 things I’ve been reading, watching or listening to this week that have helped me grow.

As always, I’ve finished with 1 terrible joke that’s so bad, you won’t be able to help but laugh…

Let’s begin!


4 x Thoughts From Me:

There is always a silver lining. You just have to look for it.

Expressing gratitude might just be one of the single best ways to interpret reality – for the fact that we are alive is an extraordinary miracle. That this is lost on us for the majority of our lives shows a sad and astonishing disconnect from the reality of what it means to be alive. Practising gratitude shouldn’t just be something you practise everyday but something you strive to practise every waking moment of your existence.

Isn’t it amazing that you can fail an unlimited number of times in life but still succeed? I find that reassuring. Sadly many of us allow repeated failure to grind us down. To tell us we are failures. It’s simply not true. The most successful people in life are the ones who have failed the most. It’s actually a measure of effort. It’s actually a measure of courage. 

If there’s one thing I could get you to learn – I’d want you to see that you don’t need to achieve anything anymore. You don’t need to keep pushing for some goal to complete. You have everything you need. You’ve achieved it already. Slow down and look. Observe. See and experience what you have. Enjoy it. That’s the part of what it means to be truly successful that most of us fail at. Many people believe they’re successful yet can’t understand why they’re unhappy. People will never realise what true success is until they learn how to enjoy what they’ve already achieved. 


3 x Quotes From Others:

“As we express our gratitude we must never forget the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.”John F. Kennedy

“Dead people receive more flowers than the living ones because regret is stronger than gratitude.”Anne Frank (Source: https://myexpressionofthoughtsblog.wordpress.com/)

It is only from such a place of gratefulness that we can perform beautiful acts — from a place of absolute, ravishing appreciation for the sheer wonder of being alive at all, each of us an improbable and temporary triumph over the staggering odds of nonbeing and nothingness inking the ledger of spacetime. But because we are human, because we are batted about by the violent immediacies of everyday life, such gratitude eludes us as a continuous state of being. We access it only at moments, only when the trance of busyness lifts and the blackout curtain of daily demands parts to let the radiance in, those delicious moments when we find ourselves awash in nonspecific gladness, grateful not to this person, grateful not for this turn of events, but grateful at life — a diffuse gratitude that irradiates every aspect and atom of the world, however small, however unremarkable, however coated with the dull patina of habit. In those moments, everything sings, everything shimmers. In those moments, we are most alive.” — Maria Popova (Source: https://www.brainpickings.org/)


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

1 – This Mark Manson article – Shut Up and Be Grateful. In it Manson explains the why gratitude is linked to happiness and why all of us should be practising it. Well worth the quick read!

“For decades, research has tied gratefulness and appreciation to happiness. People who are happier tend to be more grateful and appreciative for what they have. But what they’ve also found is that it also works the other way around: consciously practicing gratitude makes one happier. It makes one appreciate what one has and helps one to remain in the present moment. Practicing gratitude increases accountability which directly leads to higher self-esteem and happiness.” 

– Mark Manson

2 – Since we’re on the subject, this TED Talk video with monk and interfaith scholar (and Jedi master) David Steindl-RastWant to be happy? Be grateful. Well worth watching – just in case I haven’t labelled the point enough…

It’s not happiness that makes you grateful. It’s gratefulness that makes you happy

Become aware that every moment is a gift. You haven’t done anything to earn it… it was given to you.

Opportunity is the gift within every gift. If you miss the opportunity of this moment another one is given to you. If we avail ourselves to this opportunity it is the key to happiness.” 

– David Steindl-Rast

1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

We decided to start potty training this week.

Progress has been non existent.

So you can imagine my surprise when I heard my boy cry out from across room, “Daddy! Look at the shit!”

At first I didn’t know whether to tell him off for swearing or express how proud I was for doing a poo all on his own.

And then I thought, ‘there’s no way he’s managed to do it on his own so soon… is there?’

But sure enough, when I walked over to have look, there it was – my son stood proudly, pointing at a picture of a ship in one of this books.

Then I thought, Thank God I misheard him.


Thanks ladies and gentleman. I’m here all week!

I want to finish this weeks post by taking a moment to express my gratitude to all of you – for everything. For all your support. For helping to keep my head above water this year. For giving my life greater purpose and meaning. For making me a better person. Connecting with each and everyone of you is what has made blogging so incredibly meaningful. You are why I will continue to do so for a long time to come.  

Till next time… Happy (belated) Thanksgiving!

P.S. Don’t forget to exercise your silly muscle this week!

A couple of bonus questions for you all:

What are you grateful for this year? What has this year given you that others haven’t?

(Thank you all so much for reading. If you have any suggestions, thoughts or ideas about today’s weekly post I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.)


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mindset Mondays – 23/11/20

The Things That I Will Miss

“The great gift of such periods is that they invite us to question our certitudes, our givens, these seemingly sure foundations that have lulled us into complacency — for it is only by being jolted out of our complacencies, cultural or personal, that we ever reach beyond the horizon, toward new territories of truth, beauty, and flourishing.”

Maria Popova 

So much of what I’ve heard this year from family and friends has centred around what they miss. The things they took for granted before the pandemic. Wishing and hoping for some return to normality. 

While it’s nice to daydream I believe such thoughts take you away from the present moment. Where you live. Where it’s most important you find things you’re grateful for. 

For that reason I thought I’d turn the topic on it’s head and ask you all what you will miss from this time in your life right now, when this whole pandemic blows over and normality resumes (whatever and whenever that is)?

Allow me to start. 

I will miss the abundance of time I‘ve had with my family this year. I will miss seeing my precious boy grow during such a budding tender age. I will miss the times I’ve spent laughing, playing and being silly. I will miss being able to read him bedtime stories every night. 

I will miss the time spent with my wife. Time that has brought us closer together. I will miss the heartfelt chats every evening before bed. Singing and chatting to her belly, feeling as my second child would wriggle and kick with excitement. A precious gift to bring in the new year. 

I will miss connecting from isolation – long chats with family members and friends from all over the world. I miss the occasional virtual pub quiz.

I will miss the time available to pursue other ventures and pastimes. To read and write copious amounts. Time that has allowed my to both write and publish my first children’s book. Time that has allowed my to start and grow a blog – that has allowed me to connect with so many wonderful likeminded people from all around the world. People who have helped inspire me. Who have challenged me. Who have made me a better person. 

I will miss regular sleep – which for a pilot, I can tell you, is something I never take for granted! I will miss having a stable routine. For having the luxury to take my time and do everything I wish during my days off. 

I will miss the time to myself, the solitude. The time available to meditate at length and be still. To listen deeply. I will miss the way this has helped me gain insights I might never have made otherwise. 

I will miss creating art, playing video games, binge watching NETFLIX and otherwise being a complete slob.

Let me finish by saying how incredibly grateful I am for a year that has challenged me considerably. For a year that has made me wiser and stronger. For a year that has made more integral. For a year that has brought me closer to the values I hold dear.

For a year that has given me something few others have. A much deeper perspective. A much greater resilience. A much deeper love and compassion for both myself and the wider world. 

For a year that has put me in a better position to weather the storm ahead and come out on top. For a year that will make the rest of them that much brighter.


Happy (belated) Thanksgiving everyone! I was preoccupied the other day but wanted to take the time to practise some gratitude with you. Out of interest what are some of the things you will miss from this time in your life? If you want to humour me you can tell me some of things you won’t miss as well. Wishing you all the very best. With love, AP2 x

First Solo

There’s a term in aviation that all pilots know well called the first solo. It’s when a new pilot completes a takeoff, short flight and safe landing, all by him or herself, for the very first time. It’s basically the aviation equivalent of losing your virginity. You kinda line the aeroplane up with the strip, take your best aim and hope the landing doesn’t hurt too much. It’s something you never ever forget (no matter how much you might want to). For a pilot it is a very special, sacred even, moment.

I’d no idea I would be doing my first solo the day that I did. My instructor hadn’t given the slightest indication that he thought I was ready. He simply briefed me to taxi back to the same spot once I was done, then told me “Godspeed old chap,” and closed the cockpit door behind him – leaving me completely befuddled as I taxied gingerly to the runway threshold. Then, without thinking about it, I set maximum thrust and took off, all by myself.

It was, without a doubt, one of single most exhilarating moments of my aviation career. One of those rare moments of pure ecstasy, like you’re on top of the world. I felt invincible. That was, at least, until I was flying back when I looked down at the runway and it dawned on me, ‘shit I’ve got to land this thing!’ My exact thought at this point was, ‘Fuck,’ repeated several times in quick succession.

Anyway ladies and gentlemen, I bring this up because, right now, I feel like this very post is my blogging first solo. And to be brutally honest with you all – I’m petrified. I have the same feeling I did when I stared down at that runway just over eleven years ago now. The same dawning realisation that I have to do this all by myself. That same sinking feeling – like I’ve missed a crucial part of my training. 

I should say this isn’t the first post I’ve done for PO. Troy and Bogdan had the foresight to test run one of my pieces a short while back – Why Crying Like A Little Girl Is The Manliest Thing You Can Do. (Which, incidentally, seems particularly pertinent given I feel like crying myself to sleep every night at the moment.) It’s just that this time they’ve given me the keys and closed the cockpit door behind them.

“Godspeed old chap,” they said.

Godspeed.

Yet I’ve only been playing with my own poky…  blog for half a year now. In that time I’ve amassed a meagre total of just over 300 followers. Now here I am, writing for a blog with nearly 16,000!

Is that right? 

Yep.

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

And so I apologise dear readers if all this feels a bit awkward or if my delivery isn’t the smoothest. I’m sure that with time, I’ll be able to the hit the right spot. But you’ll have to bear with me – I am working with rather limited equipment, at least (ahem), linguistically speaking.

Anyway there’s no doubt that I want to be here. That I want to engage with as many wonderful, like-minded people who share in what is such a wonderful community here on WordPress. I believe this will undoubtedly help me grow as both a person and a writer. Which is why when I saw Troy’s ad to say they were looking for writers I was chomping at the bit. And before I circle back to my story, to bring this post home, let me take this moment to say how extremely grateful I am to him and the rest of the team here at PO for welcoming me on-board! 

However unlike the average person who feel pride and confidence when they achieve something, I feel nothing but relief that I didn’t fuck it up. A bit like when a captain tells me that was a nice landing (or not) after we’ve taxied off the runway, that’s the moment I realise it’s ok to exhale. 

So after my brief moment of joy the other day when I found out the news, my mind, just like it did all those years ago when staring down at the runway, expedited itself into the warm and cosy rabbit-hole of crippling self-doubt.

‘There’s no way I’m good enough to blog on PO. Everyone is going to realise that I don’t belong here. The writers here are all established – Linguistic PHD students, English professors and the like. They also seem to use this thing called discretion. I’m just a pilot with a shockingly poor grasp of the only language I know. I mean, what the fuck should I write about anyhow? What should I make my first post about? Should I make it about me and all my problems seen as no one cares or asked? Great idea!’

Then it occurred to me, I was pointlessly overthinking about what I should write for a blog called pointless overthinking. That at least made me chuckle. Then, just like I did following my mild panic attack all those years ago, I took several big breathes and thought to myself – maybe, just maybe, I’ll feel at home here after all. That maybe, just maybe, I can pull off this landing.

Thank you so much for reading everyone. I want to ask you what scary first time experiences you’ve had? How did it go? Was it unbearably awkward? Or was it, in fact, not nearly as bad as you thought it would be? Was it maybe even, rather pleasant? How did you deal with nerves? Also if you have any other feedback or remarks please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments section below. Just be gentle – it’s my first time after all.

To my regular readers: This was my first ‘offcial’ post for pointless overthinking. I wanted to share it with you all here on my blog and to let you know I will be writing a weekly post for them going forward. For those who haven’t checked it out I highly recommend heading over there and taking a look (link at the bottom). It’s run by a team of wonderful writers, professionals, thinkers and the like that I am honoured to now be a part of.

***

You can see more of AP2’s writing here at: https://pointlessoverthinking.com

NOTES FROM MY JOURNAL – September 2020 – On Dealing With Anger, Thanking My Readers and The Direction Of My Blog.

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to another one of my life-altering monthly newsletters – where I take the time to digest how my month went and look at what areas I feel the need to ‘course correct.’ At the bottom you’ll find a list of everything I’ve written about this month. As always I hope you can draw some inspiration from my words.

Let’s get into it.


On Dealing With Anger:

The big thing that’s been bothering me this month – something that has come up a number times this year – is my relationship toward anger.

Historically it’s not an emotion I’ve had much of an issue with. I’ve never believed myself to be an angry person – certainly not one who reacts to it when he is.

Anxiety has always been the big black wolf for me.

Yet, as I continue to shake off the hangover bought on by years of depression, it seems that anger is the emotion I’m having the most difficulty with.

The question is why? 

Now I’m not a psychologist, of course, but what I think might be happening is this.

Those who suffer from low self esteem often have difficulty asserting their wants, needs, and boundaries to others. Part of the reason is this requires the confidence to speak up about what it is you want. Sometimes that means having to let others know about your anger. Sometimes that means engaging in conflict.

The problem for those who don’t stand up for what they want and/or need, for fear of upsetting someone or challenging the part of your ego that likes to think ‘they’re a nice guy,’ is that their anger gets left unresolved. Over time, of course, this can build…

What I suspect might be happening, as a result of repressing my anger for so many years, is that it has finally started to surface. And when it has I’ve found it difficult to deal with simply because I’m not used to it.

As a result I’ve had several periods this year where I felt, to put it bluntly, pissed off at the world for seemingly no reason. This has resulted in my flying off the handle a couple of times.

One such example of this was when I wrote this rather angry blog post (while expressing my anger in response to another doom and gloom article about the environment) at the start of the month.

Of course I had a very good reason to be angry but the way in which I expressed it wasn’t, perhaps, the most skilful. After all swearing off the world and everyone in it is not terribly useful when it comes to inspiring action – which was the main gist of the article.

Still it was an interesting perspective – an unfiltered look at what my anger does for my writing when in full-on hulk mode!

It also got me thinking.

At the end of the day I believe honesty is the best medicine and that’s what you got – an honest look at my emotions in that moment, if not a well reasoned and balanced argument. The truth is that’s exactly what I want this blog to be about. I don’t want it to be another sugar-coated site about how amazing I am. I’m not. I’m flawed, just like everybody else. I want you all to see that.

There’s more.

Although I might regret the way in which I expressed my anger that day, the result of bearing my soul in the moment – of allowing myself to really feel and use that anger – has been very interesting indeed.

Let me run you through a few personal changed that I’ve made since then.

For one I just published a children’s book with a message about mindful consumption at its core. In an effort to put my money where my mouth is I’ve decided to donate everything I earn from it (because I don’t need it) to a charity that works with companies to redistribute surplus food to people in need. I also decided to volunteer for the same charity this month during my time off.

In terms of politics, because I believe nothing else will matter if we don’t sort it out, I’ve decided the environment has to be my number one factor when considering who I vote for. This makes things much simpler and quite frankly I need to simplify my thinking in areas like politics.

Anger, it seems, can certainly be used to exact positive change!

If that wasn’t all, what displaying my anger did, first and foremost, was generate some very honest and humbling responses from all of you lovely readers. This has, unequivocally, helped me tremendously!

Thanking My Readers:

With that in mind allow me take this moment to thank those who did.

Not withstanding those who saw through the vulgar language I used and agreed with the message or those who reminded me that my language was a bit strong, I’d like to make special mention of two in particular.

First up, Wayne – a good WordPress friend of mine, (if he doesn’t mind me saying) – called me out on it and rightly so! It also inspired him to write this brilliant blog post – Human Nature: The Caveman in all of us – which I can highly recommend reading.

Second, a young lady lady by the name of Janelle who took the time to respond to my angry post in a profoundly mature manner. I’m sure she won’t mind me sharing her comments here – what she said was this,

Please don’t ever feel like you can’t express your anger, sadness, frustration. Because then it’ll only build up in you. But you also can’t be so hard on yourself, you can’t blame yourself for everything, just like how at one point I blamed society for how I grew up, how I’m growing up. But at the same time, I have to agree, adults have left a world for us to fix, but you can also see it in a different light. And because we’ve been left this, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing, you can look at this and say that this is our generation’s version of a hard time. Maybe before it might have been poverty, or general society not accepting other people. But it’s something that will allow us to grow! I know this is such a happy spin on everything, and I know history shows such brutal truth, but I also know that the world we live in wouldn’t be the same without it. But yes. Be angry. Be mad. But do it for a reason. Don’t blindly be angry for nothing. Be mad so that you can change something for your children. And I know I’m still considered a ‘child’. But I know that we also look up to the adults in the world. The ones that have succeeded. The ones that inspire. The ones that change. The ones that show that you can do anything if you just try. What you wrote might show the flip side that no one might agree with, but it needs to be said. It can’t be ignored. And nothing is silly. Nothing is ‘bad’. Nothing should be considered ‘bad’. It just is. This is getting long, but continue to do what you’re doing, you’ve made it this far and I know you can continue to do more! Just one step at a time.

What Janelle did was cut through my anger with a level of compassion rarely demonstrated by most adults. For her to take such a positive outlook – to understand the massive potential for meaning and purpose that can be harnessed during such trying times… This is exactly the king of resolve I hope to instil in my children as they grow.

Her message immediately made me regret the way in which I wrote the piece – not withstanding the language I used or because I expressed it – but because I did so blindly – lashing out unfairly at myself and the world. She made me pause. She made me think. She made me a better person.

To Janelle and all of my regular readers who have done the same – thank you from the bottom of my heart.

The Direction Of My Blog:

So moving on and thinking forward. What’s my vision for this blog, my career, my family and the world?

I’ve been experimenting a lot over the last six months without worrying too much about the direction of my blog. Now however I do want to make it more niche – to concentrate on something you lovely readers can depend on when you stop by.

So I ask myself what can I give – what stories and lessons can impart? What do you want to hear? More importantly, what do I want to write about?

As I head towards my command I realise it’s my story – about a child who always doubted his abilities, his strength, his intelligence, who then got bullied for years during his adolescence, who also struggled with drugs and intense feelings of anxiety, all of which led to years of depression – to then go on to become a first officer for one of the world’s best airlines – to overcome those issues with anxiety and depression…

This continued quest for building greater confidence and emotional resilience as I chase command in the years ahead is what I really want to focus on. To one day tell the story of how a fearful boy turned his life around to become an airline captain, a published author, an environmentalist and activist for positive change, a loving father of two and committed husband to one.

I do hope you’ll all stick around to hear it dear readers because, I guarantee you, it’s gonna be one heck of the ride.

Thank you so much for reading. As always I love to chat – feel free to drop me a line in the comments section below. I welcome ALL thoughts and opinions on this blog. This is a very much a free state! Wishing you all much courage, resilience, love, compassion and resolve in the months ahead. God knows we’re gonna need it and each other – now more than ever. X (P.S .- see below for list of posts I wrote in September).


Posts I Wrote This September:

The Boy Who Cried No Wolf – a bit of political satire

6 Lessons From 362 Days Of Meditation – lessons learned from (almost) a year of meditation

The Absolute Minimum We Must Give Our Children – the angry post in question

Why You Should Do It For Me – a little motivational piece

Also:

Motivational Mondays

Tuesday’s Top Tip

Thursday’s Quote D’jour


Ideal Inspiration Blogger Award #1

Well, well, well. Can you believe it!? Another blogging award. Truly unbelievable!

Actually, given the sheer brilliance that is my blog it is, of course, very believable. I do need to be careful though – these awards have a habit of going straight to ones head! I can only imagine what will happen if I get more too! Women will surely be queuing up for an autograph. I can already hear them screaming hysterically from behind their keyboards!

Now if you could all pipe down for a second I need to say thank to someone.

That’s right – Hamish!

If you don’t know the young gentleman of whom I speak, well, you should.

This next part I say sincerely.

Hamish is a talented young writer from New Zealand. Quite honestly his writing puts mine to shame. He’s an incredibly thoughtful and reflective soul whose words are well worth your time. I urge all of you to stop reading anything I have to say and check out his blog instead at https://hardlinesheavytimes.wordpress.com.

Hamish thank you for nominating me. I really appreciate the shout out!

Still here?

Ok here is the boring rules bit.

RULES FOR THE AWARD:

  • Thank the person who has nominated you and provide a link back to their blog.
  • Answer their questions.
  • Nominate up to 9 other bloggers and ask them 5 new questions.
  • Notify the nominees through their blog by visiting and commenting on their blog.
  • List the rules and display the “Ideal Inspiration Blogger Award” logo.

QUESTIONS FROM HAMISH:

1. What is the best thing you like about blogging?

I started blogging because I wanted to help others while also improve my limited skills as a writer. Having overcome a number of personal issues with depression and anxiety in recent years, I also believed I had something more to offer than simply telling people how great they are (which of course they are). I’ve no idea if much my words have had any effect, but I can say with certainty the words of other bloggers have helped me enormously. If I got into this because I enjoy writing, connecting with others is what will keep me in the game for much longer.

2. If there was a film about your life, what would its title be?

Suffering Twice.

3. How do you decide what to blog about?

Usually when I’m walking around my local park lots of ideas pop into my head. I write them down on my phone. Sometimes I stop in the middle of my walk when ideas come to me and just write – words just kinda flow out of me – often this writing is better than anything I try to force. At other times ideas come from reading other blog posts – in many cases a comment I leave generates an idea from which I blog. Some days I just start writing about my thoughts and feelings in my journals and see where it leads.

4. Who or what are some of your sources of inspiration?

Without a doubt my ridiculous two year old son. He has shown me more about what it means to be alive than any adult ever has. 

5 What is one aspiration you hope to achieve by the end of 2020?

I can say that I already achieved something I set out to do this year. That is to become a published author! I wrote a children’s book for my son late last year and plucked up the courage to approach a publisher with the idea earlier this year. She loved it and worked tirelessly to help make it happen. The book hits stores here in Hong Kong next week!

MY SPECTACULAR NOMINEES

Cheryl Batavia – An exceptionally kind lady. I absolutely adore her poetry – http://gulfcoastpoet.wordpress.com

Janelle – Extremely lovely young lady who likes to blog about her love of books – https://thebookandpen.wordpress.com

Nina Yomo – Another lovely lady from South Africa with a very thoughtful blog tackling a number of important issues – https://ninayomowrites.home.blog

Suke Francis – A good man from Kenya who has always encouraged me on my blogging journey. He happens to be a damn fine blogger himself – https://bthought1.wordpress.com

I could go on but honestly it’s getting late here so I’m going to stop. I sincerely hope no one is offended if I haven’t nominated them. As far as I’m concerned you’re all nominated – I simply don’t have the energy to nominate everybody who has taken the time to visit and comment on my blog. Soz. At any rate my exceptional blog will undoubtedly be nominated many more times in the future so I will endeavour to nominate more of you lovely readers then.

To all of you who decide to reply- please use the questions above. Or don’t. Make up your own. Have fun with it either way.

Sending all of you much love,

AP2 X

200 Followers!

Can you believe it?

200 whole individual follower people!

That’s 199 people I don’t know and my mum! Hi mum 👋!

Extraordinary stuff.

Where do I begin?

Of course it’s been a long and arduous journey since I started blogging, with many ups and downs along the way, but to reach 200 followers is beyond my wildest expectations! (I’m guessing it’s beyond anybody’s wildest expectations!)

Couple this with winning what can only be described as the blogging equivalent of an Oscar last month, one could only conclude this is the finest blog in the entire blogosphere!

But don’t take my word for it, just ask my mum!

Now please bare with me while I try to be serious for a second…

I genuinely want to thank all of you who have taken the time to read my pokey little blog this year.

I started blogging because I wanted to help others in some way, shape or from, while also improve my limited skills as a writer. Having overcome a number of personal issues with depression and anxiety in recent years, I also believed I had something more to offer than simply telling people how great they are (which of course they are).

I’ve no idea if much my words have had any effect, but I can say with absolute certainty your words have helped me enormously. If I got into this because I enjoy writing, connecting with all of you lovely people is what will keep me in the game for much longer.

The sheer number of amazing individuals all trying to help one another become better people is truly inspiring. It really has been a great things to feed off of, especially this year.

To each and every one of you – for helping to teach me, to challenge my very limited ways of thinking, for engaging me with humour, love and compassion – thank you all so so much. You have all been a massive silver lining to the monstrous storm cloud that is 2020.

Love to all,

AP2.

5 Simple Tricks For Overcoming To-Do List Anxiety

“Procastination isn’t caused by laziness. We don’t postpone tasks to avoid work. We do it to avoid negative emotions that a task stirs up – like anxiety, frustration, confusion, and boredom.”

SOURCE: Adam Grant’s Worklife podcast – ‘The Real Reason You Procrastinate.’

Do you know that feeling, after you’ve written out your to-do list, despite how it’s suppose to make you feel, when all you want to-do is crawl under a rock and die? 

You know, when a slow and painful death seems preferable to confronting the mountain of tedious work you feel you have to-do?

And so you slowly put down your to-do list, walk over to the couch, gently sit down, carefully pick up the remote control and turn on NETFLIX. Which you then proceed to binge watch for several hours…

A bit like a psychopath who completely disconnects from all his or her responsibilities and emotions? 

I’m sure you do.

Anyway this got me thinking.

Why exactly does writing out our responsibilities on paper cause some us to run away from them faster than a teenage boy climaxes?

After all we know this kind of behaviour doesn’t help us, yet we can’t help ourselves. Sometimes all we want is to tell life to go fuck itself and so we do, even if that means fucking ourselves in the process.

The real question, of course, is how can we stop our to-do lists from making us feel like shit and actually help us get shit done instead?

Well fear not my fine readers for I’ve complied 5 simple tricks – as partially backed by science – to help you not only write a to-do list that doesn’t make you want to tell life to go fuck itself, but carry it out as well!

You’re very welcome!


1 – DO THE THING YOU FEAR THE MOST FIRST

“The task you’re avoiding isn’t always the one you hate. Sometimes it’s the one you fear. The one that’s most worth pursuing.”

SOURCE: ADAM GRANT’S WORKLIFE PODCAST – ‘THE REAL REASON YOU PROCRASTINATE.’

The science shows that making a plan to complete a task provides the same mental relief as completing the task itself.

Which is exactly the point. Writing a to-do list is suppose to make you feel better so you can actually get started with something.

It’s suppose to get you in the mood… (Yeah baby!)

The problem for me, and I suspect countless others, was never a matter of productivity, but what it was I actually chose to accomplish during the day. I now realise I used my to-do list as a way to constantly defer the shit I was most afraid of.

I’m not talking about homework assignments here of course. I mean things like confronting my depression by asking for professional help or having certain difficult conversations with certain family members about shit I really don’t want to talk about…

Yeah, you know, the shit you really need to be doing first!

It was pointed out to me, in Adam Grant‘s excellent worklife podcast episode – ‘the real reason you procrastinate,’ that it wasn’t the tasks I was avoiding but the emotions I’d attached to said tasks.

The problem with ignoring these tasks is you inadvertently give those emotions (the thing that you’re actually afraid of confronting) greater hold over you. Thus the longer you leave said tasks undone the harder they become to-do.

Unfortunately there’s only one solution.

However scary they are, the tasks that you fear the most are exactly the ones you should be pursuing first. Not tidy the apartment!

Why?

Well it’s a classic Catch 22. By doing the very tasks you’re afraid of, you’re helping to confront and resolve those emotions that caused you to avoid those tasks in the first place.

If you don’t want to live with those emotions any longer, then you have to stop avoiding them. You have to rip the bandaid off. If you don’t it’s only gonna hurt more later on. Believe me!

Of course I realise this might not be what you want to hear so I thought I’d offer a few more tips that can help you do what’s necessary by putting things into perspective.

2 – ASK YOURSELF, “WHAT WOULD I DO IF THIS WERE MY LAST DAY ON EARTH?

It’s important to be very clear about what your most important tasks are on any given day. Often we’re not. A great way to do this – something I do every morning as part of my journalling routine – is to ask yourself the following question: “What would I do if this were my last day on earth?”

I’m guessing your to-do list would look markedly different.

Things like telling your family how much you love them. Apologising for any major wrong doings or forgiving those that wronged you would also probably appear. Remaining as present as you possibly can be. Paying attention to every waking moment for the truly precious moment that it is! Sitting with and observing any difficult emotions. Allowing those emotions to come out (instead of watching NETFLIX). Taking a walk outside to feel the elements – wind, rain, hail or shine! Simply being…

You get the point.

Of course you shouldn’t take this question too seriously otherwise you’ll probably bin your to-do list altogether and tell your boss to-go fuck himself. Perhaps not in the best interest of your future self…

Still this is a great question because it helps align your to-do list with the values you hold closest. It helps to prioritise the things that you really should. It also puts thing into perspective.

The truth is you don’t have to-do anything. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment and self-loathing by thinking so. You don’t have to-do anything if you don’t want to.

You get to do those things.

Which brings me to my next trick for reframing your to-do list. That is,

3 – WRITE A GET TO-DO LIST INSTEAD

Put that at the top in big bold capital letters: GET to-do.

Not only does this set yourself up to be more grateful for what you feel you might have to-do, it also helps to take the pressure off.

You get to do it, you don’t have to do it.

Keep reminding yourself of this important fact.

I’d add another small tip.

Write out 3 things you’re grateful for today before you write out your get to-do list. I could show you some science that shows just how beneficial having a gratitude practise is, but I don’t want to bore you.

You know all this.

The point to label is YOU GET TO-DO THESE THIHGS. One day you’ll be dead and you won’t get to.

It helps to keep that in mind.

4 -KEEP IT MODEST AND BE SPECIFIC

How much do you really need to-do today?

So many of us put everything down we’d like to complete and then burn out after realising we’ll never be able to achieve all those things.

You’ve got make it manageable.

Don’t say I’ll write one blog post or go for a 10km run or finish reading that book. Say I’ll write one paragraph, jog for five minutes and read one chapter.

Simply taking a step in the right direction is enough.

So what if you didn’t quite get everything you wanted to-do done?

The most important thing is that you enjoyed it. You’re never going to enjoy it if you’re always racing towards the finish line.

And if you really don’t manage to complete much, if anything, of what you intended, then please refer to point number 5.

5 – SHOW YOURSELF SOME COMPASSION

‘You can change some of those emotions by showing yourself compassion. We procrastinate less when we remind ourselves that it’s part of the human condition. We’re not the only one suffering from it.’

SOURCE: ADAM GRANT’S WORKLIFE PODCAST – ‘THE REAL REASON YOU PROCRASTINATE.’

A tough one to finish I know. The truth is I’m awful at being kind to myself.

This is why, every morning as part of my meditation routine before I do anything else, I practise a loving kindness meditation for everybody including myself.

After all it can’t be called universal compassion if it doesn’t include yourself.

It’s important to remember we’re all fallible humans at the end of the day. Things like confronting our demons aren’t easy. It takes time to find the courage.

Go easy on yourself if you don’t do that scary task.

Who honestly get’s everything they mean to-do in a day? Really? I certainly don’t.

That said, I tell my wife I love her every night before bed without fail. I make sure I spend a couple of quality hours with my son – laughing and playing with him every afternoon before dinner. I meditate every single morning and take every opportunity to practise mindfulness whenever I can. I always go for a walk outside as a way to remind myself that I’m alive and how fucking amazing that is!

Quite frankly the rest can fucked. Occasionally it does!

The older I get the more willing I am to say, so the fuck what? Tomorrow’s another day right? If you fall off the horse today, simply get back on it tomorrow. Falling down is inevitable. Getting back up is what matters.

That’s life.

(As always I welcome ALL opinions on this blog. If you have any other tips about crafting the ultimate to-do list I’d be very keen to hear from you in the comments section below! Thank you all so much for reading!)


SOURCES:

WorkLife with Adam Grant episode on ‘The Real Reason You Procrastinate.’

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/tech-support/201310/why-your-do-list-drives-you-crazy

https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/zeigarnik-effect

Mystery Blogger Award #1

By… 

The creator of this award is Okoto Engima.

First up, a massive thank you to BThought1 for awarding my exceptional blog Clear-Air-Turbulence this most prestigious award!!! I joke of course, I’m not sure how prestigious this award actually is… 😂 Seriously though, it’s an absolute honour you thought of my poky blog given the sheer amount of truly exceptional blogs out there. It’s connecting with wonderful individuals such as yourself that has made blogging so meaningful for me. To all of my lovely readers I highly recommend checking out his excellent blog. He’s a very insightful writer.

So what are the Rules for this most prestigious blogging award?

1. Put the award logo on your blog.

2. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.

3. Mention the creator of the award.

4. Answers the five questions you were asked.

5. Tell the readers three things about yourself.

6. Nominate your favourite bloggers.

Notify the bloggers( tell them you nominated them) by commenting on one of their posts.

7. Ask your nominees five questions with one weird or funny one.

8. Share a link to your best posts.

Onto the questions!

1. What keeps you motivated in these difficult times?
As a pilot I can tell you it isn’t flying! Aside from playing with my very silly family I’d have to say that blogging has become my favourite lockdown activity. It’s more productive than binge watching NETFLIX at least…

2. Are you a story-teller or a story-listener?
I’m a terrible listener – mainly because that requires patience. Telling a good story on the other hand is all about embellishing the truth, or omitting it entirely. This I’m very good at. 

3. Who inspires you the most?
Without a doubt my ridiculous two year old son. He has shown me more about what it means to be alive than any adult every has.

4. Why do you enjoy writing and blogging?
I think too much. Writing is an amazing way to focus the monkey mind on something positive. Left to its own devices my brain usually goes places it shouldn’t. A bit like walking around a dodgy neighbourhood past midnight. It’s actually quite dangerous.

5. What music do you like to listen to?
Before children I used to listen to many different types of awesome hipster music. Now all I’m allowed to listen to is the wheels on the bus go round and round. It’s ironic that my son thinks it needs to be played all day long as well.

3 things about myself

1. I’m half kiwi (the animal, not the fruit).

2. I became a pilot to travel the world not to fly aeroplanes.

3. I’m obsessed with psychology and philosophy .

My nominees are:

1. Pointless Overthinking

2. Word Of Wayne

3. Junkiegenius

4. Glitter In The Darkness

5. The Magpie Fancier

To all my lovely readers – all your blogs have inspired me in some way so please consider yourself nominated too! 

To my nominees please use the same questions above.

I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about me. It’s getting late here in Hong Kong so I’m gonna turn in. If you want to read some more of my fine work please click here. I would caution that my writing usually requires a pinch of salt.

Love to all X