Taking Your Own Advice

Whatever job you have, there are lots of things that you will recognise as being “the worst part of the job”. There’s never just one thing, there’s only whatever the thing is when you think of it. In what I think of as my day job, facilitating and delivering workshops to researchers, things that I have thought of as the worst part of the job have included:

  • interrupting people to move on to the next discussion/activity in a workshop;
  • travelling long distances;
  • being away from my daughter;
  • doubt about whether or not you’re connecting with a quiet room.

Today I have a new one: not taking my own advice.

Slowly becoming out of practice

Frequently I find myself stood in front of a room, telling people “here is a good way to do something”. Sometimes I even go so far as to say “here is THE way to do something.” The best way to plan your time. A great way to interrogate an idea or ask a question. A good way to plan out a project.

And yet… I get home and stare at the screen as I try to write something some days. I know what I want to do – even what I need to do! – and yet I sit here and think, “What if…?” What if there is something better I could be doing? What if there is something else I need to do which I’ve forgotten? Just this week I was working on an idea, trying to flesh it out. As I worked through something I thought “Hmm, this is a neat way of going about things, why don’t I do this more often?”

I thought about it some more and realised that this was a method that I had spoken about several times before with groups. I had told them that it was useful, that it worked. I remembered that I had used it myself. I had just forgotten. I had let my practice slip. In that area, in that method of exploring ideas, I had let myself get rusty.

Back on the horse

Not taking my own advice is the new worst part of the job. My advice for myself now then is to do a mini-audit: think about the things that I know how to do, but which I haven’t put into practice for some time. Setting out some goals, for one thing. Looking at building up my practice through habits – deliberate habits – is another.

What do you do, when you know that you’ve let yourself get out of practice with something? How have you started again? (I think that Inger had some nice words about lapsed habits recently)

Thanks for reading!

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)