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Letting Go... Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
This came in a GTD newsletter. Thought it was brilliant.

Implementing the Getting Things Done methods can be scary. Frankly, I think many people resist the GTD processes of capturing, clearing, clarifying, and organizing, because they are afraid of letting go. They seem to be saying, "If I give myself over to this outside-my-head system business, then I'll lose control. My structures will run me, and my mind will not be free. I have to hang onto it myself, inside of me!" I even think people are often hesitant to install the habit of writing things down, of capturing thoughts and commitments objectively, because there is a fear of losing their grip on them! I find the recent popularity of the value of "messiness" amusing. Indeed, trying to control things too much by over-committing to an ineffective structure would certainly be limiting (nor would it be GTD). But being afraid of the open space a really good system creates and supports, while being addicted to an internal and uncontrollable mental structure, is just as limiting.

What's so good about that open space? Hanging on to an idea or a commitment takes energy. How do you know what you should be remembering? Should I let it keep popping into my consciousness often and at random moments, so I feel OK that it's still in my power? But how constructive is that - having something recur in your mind, demanding your attention? Some people apparently get a sense of effectiveness and worthiness by having a lot of things to be remembering and reminding themselves about. Even if those thoughts didn't slip into stressful worrying (which they often do), it would seem a silly waste of time and mental energy, if nothing else. It reminds me of the monkey that can't get his hand back through the hole in the wall because of the fistful of food he reached through to grab.

But what if there was truly nothing on your mind? Could you handle that potential void? Of course if you've tasted the "mind like water" state that is available by implementing the Getting Things Done model, you'll realize that the "nothing" we're referring to is not actually nothing - it's just a pristine clarity that allows full focus and attention, with no static or distracting mental noise or pressure. It is empty - not of thoughts, but of extraneous thoughts that actually have a hold on us. In the zone we are free.

It's actually not possible to have nothing on your mind, as long as you're conscious. Your mind streams a continual flow of images and thoughts - much like a computer constantly cycling through your internal database. Your intelligence, however, seems to be something different. Not only can you use it to change your mind, but it also provides the ability to leave the mind parked, humming idly, while a more creative, intuitive part of you is free to go on to other things. Your mind, like your emotions, is something you have, not something you are. But if you hang it up with jobs it doesn't do very well, it can run you ragged. How attached to your thoughts are you?

There is indeed a deep comfort in thinking whatever we're thinking, the way we're thinking it, and not necessarily a lot of enthusiasm for letting that thinking go. That's ironic, because we couldn't hold a thought very long if we tried (unless you're a trained yogi) - so we're actually falling and landing somewhere new in our minds all the time! But letting our (seeming) mental control go, without a total money-back guarantee of bigger and better on the other side, requires faith and strength. Many people have asked me what I've learned about the methods since Getting Things Done was first published - is there anything I would change? My biggest surprise has nothing to do with the principles or methods - it's how long it takes people to really hop in fully. It's becoming clearer and clearer to me that it's simply the unease of letting go.

"It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power."
- Alan Cohen


"Our greatest pretenses are built up not to hide the evil and the ugly in us, but our emptiness. The hardest thing to hide is something that is not there."
- Eric Hoffer
 
 


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