Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tree Felling 101

So I've been thinking a lot about energy lately, and how I use it.

Not energy as in electricity or oil; I mean personal energy--my energy, and where and how I spend it in a typical week. What I've uncovered from this internal investigation of mine is not good. I've learned that I'm not terribly bright when it comes to how I manage my energy.

Here's an analogy that helped me identify the problem: Let's imagine that you owned a patch of land that had twenty really big trees on it that you need to chop down. (My apologies to environmentalists for this crude analogy. I love trees myself and would like to keep as many of them rooted in the ground as possible. But it's just an analogy, and for whatever reason it works for me.)

OK, so you've got twenty trees that need to be felled. But you have only enough personal energy to chop down one tree each week. So how would you go about clearing the land?

Well, here's what I do: Instead of tackling one tree at a time, I typically try to take a swing or two at every single tree every week! Now, if I can keep this up every week without fail, then theoretically at the end of 20 weeks, ALL of the trees would fall at roughly the same time. Talk about a productive day! But the thing I don't take into account is the emotional cost of that approach. Because for each one of the 19 weeks leading up to that final payoff, I feel as if I am putting out a LOT of work, running crazy from one thing to another, and not having much of anything to show for it but a growing mess of wood chips on the ground. Progress on any given tree is excruciatingly slow, and I feel like I'm not getting back any value for all the work I'm putting in.

OK...duh, right? For all that work, I have one terrific week, and 19 weeks of feeling like nothing much is happening. Now that's messed up. Am I the only one that does this?

So just do one tree at a time--it's the obvious answer, right? But for some reason, I didn't see it until this week.

So what about you? How do you spend your energy in a typical week? How many trees do you typically go after at one time? To create lasting change in my life, I'm trying on a new mantra: One Tree at a Time.

1 comment:

kari said...

wow, i relate. and i wanted to leave more comments, but you already think i'm a stalker:)

by the way i was a gateway-er until a few months ago, i've just moved to west africa. and we are facebook buddies but i'm not sure we've met?