Friday, February 1, 2008

on lessons

i was talking with lovely partner about how i actually turned in the grant. she is also facing a huge deadline and she asked me if i had any advice or wisdom to offer. we talked and then she said, "that's bloggable." so here i am. i don't want to seem preachy or anything, but i just wanted to share some things i've learned in the past couple weeks working on this application.

1. you WILL go crazy. resisting only makes the insanity worse. the best thing to do is find a relatively safe place to act out your craziness (i.e. your blog, rehearsal, conversation with a
mutually crazy friend, etc.) and just let the craziness wash over you. bask in it and set it free.

2. pay attention to your fatigue and anxieties/fears. be very careful about parsing them out. because fatigue and anxiety tend to look and feel very similar. but they need to be addressed and resolved in radically different ways. you must always heed your fatigue. you must rest, so long as time permits. but anxiety must be resisted and neutralized. sometimes addressing one alleviates the other. for me, walking the dogs helped my brain rest but also helped me talk with my fears and soothe them. the fear wants you to stop so that you don't have to move forward. the fatigue wants you to nurture yourself so that you can keep going. take care of them both.

3. you MUST ask for help. this has been a very difficult lesson for me to learn. This can take many forms. I asked for help from you, dear readers, on being accountable. i asked for help on the synthesis of the project by enlisting collaborators. i asked for help on the proposal by sending out drafts to friends who i knew could give me good advice. asking for help not only gets other people involved and shouldering some of your work, but it also gives you a sense of humility. and humility is what you need to actually finish, because otherwise, the perfectionist just keeps telling you that it's not good enough and you miss the deadline.

3a. that said, it's important to be mindful about how you ask for help. not everyone will have the desire, energy or space (timewise or emotionally) to help you. so you choose from whom you ask help wisely. you cast a wide net. i asked eight people to look at my draft. three people wrote back to me. and i was really touched by how detailed and generous their comments were. what these three said was more than enough.

i think that's it. any other deadline advice out there?

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