I have a habit of taking on too many projects at once. I think I do this because (1). I have massive FOMO, (2). if I am not keeping myself busy constantly I put pressure on myself that I am not "living life to the fullest" and likely (3). it can be a way of avoiding boredom in any one particular activity.
Now, when you feeling good 100% of the time, your schedule is running smoothly and your time management is precise, having hundred and one things on my TO DO List wouldn't faze me. But one setback can create additional pressures on other ventures, and with so many businesses running simultaneously, the Domino Effect comes to play and soon everything can be in jeopardy. Eventually, something had to give, usually meaning my activities, hobbies, social events or inchoate start ups would be on the chopping block.
Frustration, sadness or guilt would build up when choosing what I would narrow my focus to. Every decision carried with it some amount of emotional turmoil, which I would suppress by keeping busy. I would also feel dismay at the thought of the opportunity to cost of never having started. If I had met someone that had devoted their life to a particular skill, I would praise their efforts and learn what I could, but also wished I could have cloned myself a decade earlier so that I too could have embarked and shared that life journey.
When speaking to friends and family, often cited attempts at making me feel better included "well you cant do everything" or "you already doing so much" or "it would have been a waste as you probably would not have be good at it anyway", none of which offered me any comfort and at times made me angry. Why couldn't i do everything? The next several years became my obsession with hacking learning areas using the same skill sets Tim Ferriss teaches in his books and blog. My new passion became learning ANYTHING in record time and competing to test my new skills.
The missing element was how to overcome the paradox of the Having Doing Being stages in personal growth. Specifically, how can you, at the same time, purse excellence while being at peace with yourself while taking action. If you happy with where you are now, your motivation suffers. If you never HAPPY with what you have, you will be chasing your whole life. Zen Practice would suggest you already have what you want or desire, but does that mean Buddhist monks don't believe in technological progress and personal development. There were way too many ideas floating in my head and I needed a paradigm shift to help me maintain the productivity while enjoying the day to day experiences and staying present to the moment.
Building On The Playing A Piano Analogy
Sitting down to play a piano, not all keys are striked at once, instead beautiful music is created by only pressing down on a few keys at any one time, sequentially and rhythmically, the rest remain untouched at that moment. Yet each piano key is important, and the silent moments in the composition are juxtaposed with the melody at the pianists' fingers.
The harmony in the music, and the balance in my life can thus be characterized by a series of activities, focal points (piano keys) but to pursue everything at once would be akin to a giant version of a child bashing on the keyboard for the first time. Instead, by taking a step back and selectively disengaging, by taking breaks, I would create the silence needed to improve my life altogether.
Returning to the Having Doing Being Paradox. The Having element is the instrument, its your physical traits that allow you to play, your stamina and mobility. The Doing is your ability to play the piano. The Being is your enjoyment for music. Being is our mindfulness, what Eckhard Tolle refers to as "present in the moment". When playing music our goal isn't to get to the end of the song, but the feeling in our hearts when we play or hear others play, its the enjoyment of the entire song brought together expertly and succinctly.
Taking the analogy further, what instrument you choose, its quality and how you look after it over the longer term is also vital to the depth of the music that is your life. The relationships you choose, your health and your wealth creation are vital resources for your longer term growth.
Ultimately, you are your own piano player and you can keep your career solo or join a band, but remember in either case leave some room for silence, for rest and for peace in your heart
Additional Content for Your Pleasure
One of my favourite songs of all time, on piano Elton John - Tiny Dancer
This post was inspired by the existential questions posed by Alan Watts in his Lectures, the main theme covered in this shortened video presentation Alan Watts - What Have you Left Out???