Long Fuses


I’m most of the way through another great book about our resistance to change. Eric Haseltine has had a widely varied career, so his insights in Long Fuse, BIG BANG: Achieving Long-Term Success Through Daily Victories are very timely. In the back of my head, I think I knew I needed to be lighting what he describes as long fuses to create the big bangs I can envision. I just seem to get distracted by all the fuses I keep lighting, so many of them go out when I don’t pay regular attention to them.

Lately, this blog has been one of the fuses that has been lit, burned out, been lit again, and burned out again. I had a pretty good run, that included a vacation to three different states and required I write some of my posts on my iPhone. Since I’ve been back and have my entire technology arsenal available to me, the motivation has ebbed. What’s wrong with me? I’ve lost all the momentum I had built up.

Part of the reason I’ve neglected all the habits I worked so hard to establish is that my wife is in what passes for a quiet time in her year. The choir she directs is off for the summer, so she can stay at home an extra day. There have been projects we have been ignoring for months or years even, that we actually got started last week and finished this week. And we lit a couple of fuses on other projects that should be finished early this fall.

So it isn’t as if I was goofing off. I was just doing some things for others rather than doing things for myself. I have to admit I like the idea of finishing our kitchen, and getting solar panels up on our garage roof, but those aren’t as personal as the work I had been doing for myself. I was more focused on what I needed to do when she was still doing the choir. Now she is home more and I get more time to do things with her.

And that is what frustrates me a little. When she was only here half of the week and only had time to spend with me on her weekend, I could pretty much do whatever I wanted the rest of the time. I was able to watch a movie in the afternoon if I liked, or sit on the porch for hours reading a really good book. But lately, she wants me to do things we agreed we should do for the house or with each other. Is that fair?

Well, it just woke me up to what things will be like when I get my business going. The volunteer work I have been doing for the local fiddler’s fair is not very difficult but it does require I get out and talk to potential sponsors. I’ve never done anything like that before. It turns out I may actually be pretty good at it. But what I am not good at is doing my habit building regardless of whatever else is on my daily agenda. It turns out I’m lazier than I realized. I’m not as good an example for people as I thought.

Or maybe I am. I want things in my future to turn out differently. I think I could possibly coast along for the next thirty years and not do very much at all, other than the things I’ve been doing the past four years – since I retired. I’ve read a lot of books, written down a lot of ideas, talked about starting a business, written up a dozen or more business plans, done some consulting work for others, but not really finished very many things.

I’ve lit several hundred fuses and only tended to a half dozen of them. What was I thinking?

I guess I wasn’t thinking at all. I didn’t think of all those little projects I was starting as fuses that would contribute to a larger big bang sometime in the future. I knew they were all things that needed to get moving, but I didn’t see them as part of a bigger picture. Or rather, I didn’t see them that way until now.

Will this change the way I do things this weekend, or next week? Will any of my plans for big things make much progress if it is still summer? Will any of this matter in the end?

I think it will. That’s what one part of my tool does for me. Anything I define as a “habit in progress” has a list of all the days I planned to do something about it, with a number for how much time I actually spent doing it. A lot of things take less than a minute, but I keep track of them. Other things are more complicated, like writing these blog posts. And viewed as a group, they can be pretty daunting, because there will be over a hundred of them when I get back up to speed.

And that is the point. All those habits I’m trying to develop are just fuses for something bigger I want to do. The routines are the same idea, just not on a daily basis. I was in a zone of sorts before the vacations started and I left my laptop at home, but many of the habits stuck even when the tracking wasn’t there. There is hope for me.

Will there be any hope for others? Will my example of discipline and faltering give anyone else a reason to join me on this quest? Am I discovering my fundamental problem is that I am human, and that I have faults, and that I will fail more than I succeed?

You bet I will, and I bet you will, once I figure out how to explain all this to you and your friends. This is going to be so much fun. I can’t tell you how much fun it will be because it would scare you away. That’s why I need to go back and tend to some fuses that have gone out. If you are patient, I will have some of them lit in places where you can see them and maybe even light a few of your own. It will probably change while we are figuring it out, but isn’t that the point?

Ah, that makes me feel so much better. Now back to the morning routine.

See you all tomorrow. Let’s see if I can break my earlier streak of 60+ days in a row.

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