Day 658: I Blame the Full Focus Journal / Perfect Me

Talking about it with my wife over breakfast, I think the last couple of months of feeling sludgy and bad behaviour were snapback from the Full Focus Journal experiment.

I think the Full Focus thing is probably a great system for a lot of people; especially people who have a standard 9-5 day job — or at least a single main gig — that breaks into several goals and maybe a couple of side things.

But trying to use it to manage all the side things, on top of a job that I think is already top-10th percentile in terms of being busy and consuming… that was a mistake.

And I think after two months of having that system reinforcing that I felt like I was failing, I basically had a quiet freak-out in July. The slump I feel like I’m in started almost exactly when my attempts at maintaining the FFJ stopped. And I don’t think it was that I stopped using it that caused the slump. I think I had to stop using it, or flame out entirely, and I arrested that process in mid-flame-out by stopping when I did.

I don’t think it’s a bad system or a bad product. I enjoyed setting it up. I think setting goals for myself is a good thing.

I think this was an intersection of two things: one, I do too much, and two, if I set realistic goals for myself, they’re already ambitious, because I am ambitious. I’m working a job that most people, if we’re honest, couldn’t do. I’m using volunteer time to literally build a podcast network from scratch with and for no money. I’ve rebuilt a local outdoors club’s web presence and marketing structure from nothing. I’ve set up a now-on-hold side business. I’m taking challenging courses in law.

My normal is super hard, and using the Full Focus system to try to push myself even harder was a recipe for disaster.

But just using it to track what I’m already doing… I’m already good at that! I’m already doing it!

So I think I used it as an excuse, or a motivator, to succumb to my worst unhealthy push-too-hard instincts. And I think I’m clawing back from a three-month burnout that was entirely self-inflicted.

This is one of those weird moments of clarity you get periodically.

And wow: here’s a mental trick. I thought I stopped the full focus planner and burnt out on it in the first week of July. That’s when I started it. I stopped in mid-August! I lasted a month and a bit.

That’s — weird, at least, maybe worrisome? My brain rewrote the whole story to be Full Focus in June, and quitting after a family crisis in July. But I started it concurrently with the family crisis!

So today and tomorrow, I’m going to give myself some time to genuinely reflect on that experience and what I took away from it. Twelve annual goals is great. Quarterly goals are great. The daily tracking and Big Three daily is… probably not great, or needs to be scaled back to the point where they reflect a normally ambitious life, not a supernaturally ambitious one.

Maybe, given my misremembering of the whole sequence of things, starting it in the middle of a family issue was the wrong-footing. Maybe I need to roll it out and try it for another quarter, but with less crazy goals and a more realistic perspective.

Tomorrow: what does perfect me look like? Who is that guy? How do I get in touch with him and reverse engineer that guy to now? Visualization as tactic.

I’m (cough) back off therapy. It’s expensive! I want to try some other things first in terms of self-guided reflection and meditation.