Mitigating My Mitigating

The Great Dichotomy

Reconciling the personal and professional aspects of my life has never been a big challenge for me (managing to excel at either is a massive one, but let’s not dwell…). I often see them as two sides of the same coin. As I continue to grow in both, the more I feel these two sides coming together. Over the past few years, I’ve started finding ways to be more myself in my work life and that makes me happier in the personal. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly have my work struggles, but the simple act of deciding to be myself there has helped a great deal.

However, on the professional side, I live with an ever growing dichotomy. There is the Michael Schechter who works in his family business as a Director of Digital Sales and Marketing and then there is the guy who comes here every few days to talk about his struggles, his ADHD and his love of all things geek. And even though the day job certainly informs aspects of this site, the two are highly unrelated. While the line between home and work Mike has blurred to the point of irrelevant, the chasm between the guy who works at a jewelry company and the person who is examining the way he can do better work grows deeper and wider. So much so, that when people who read this site find out what I do, they’re often confused (this also probably has to do with the lack of a sufficient bio page, but I digress).

Hedging On My Ideas

I also tend to be a professional starter. Sometimes this leads to long-term projects and short-term successes I’m proud of, like this site, but just as often it causes me to leave incomplete or abandoned projects in my wake. These projects often involve others and leave them disappointed in my follow through (and by follow through, I mean my lack thereof). I’ve gotten better… I have a better system for managing my workload, I do my best to dismiss as many opportunities and ideas as I can, but I also say yes to myself and others far too often. This tendency to take on too much in too many places has led to several smaller dichotomies that join together with my great one to pull my already fickle attention in far too many directions.

How Do I Mitigate Me?

These dichotomies tend to cause a fair amount of stress and my nature to hedge by constantly adding another project with the hope that this is the one that will the way to my “great success”, has led me to never truly lean into any of what I attempt. I’m always so busy juggling that I never fully commit to anything that I’m doing. I’ve spent a decent amount of time learning how to manage my work, but the time has come to take a step back and do a better job managing myself. So where to begin?

A while back, I asked asked myself “What kind of person do I want to be“. Since the options were overwhelming, I narrowed down my choices to “Be Good, Be Bold, Be Useful”. The resulting venn diagram has been a useful tool, so I figured why try the same tactic to help answer the growing “what do I want to do” question. After forcing myself to choose my three guideposts and landing on “My Home, My Job, My Site”, things have become a lot clearer.

I Have To Lean In

I’m not ready to reconcile the “great dichotomy”. I’m challenged by the work I do when I get to the office and have a growing belief in the words I create here on my keyboard and on the mic. And truthfully, I’m not capable of making a decision right now that wouldn’t be entirely financial. I can, however, aggressively eliminate the many smaller distractions. When it comes to my job, I need to shift my focus away from my efforts on the industry at large and do a better job focusing on my role at our company. When it comes to my home, I need to better manage my time, be present in moments with my family and continue to get healthy. When it comes to my site (and the podcast), I need to focus on being as honest and useful as possible to continue to help myself and offer something beneficial to those of you who choose to spend your time and attention here. I have to take my own advice and lean in to those three aspects and aggressively eliminate whatever else does not fit in.

Projects I am passionate about will have to go. I will have to say no a lot more than I say yes. And once I’m done with this great elimination, I’m going to have to finish what I start. I’m tired of letting myself and others down, I’m tired of not being where I’d like to be and I’m tired of trying to tell myself that I can hedge my way to success. I’m tired of convincing myself that it will be my next great idea, rather than the good ideas I’ve already had, that will get me where I want to go.

How about you? Has your tendency to mitigate gotten you where you want to go? Have you been able to focus in on a few key aspects and if so, has that helped? I’d appreciate any pointers, because I’m certainly going to need them myself.

this weeks episode of the Mikes on Mics podcast. While this episode was focused on my co-host, Mike Vardy, I think you’ll find it helpful if you related to this post.Related side note: We speak at length about risk in

8 Responses to Mitigating My Mitigating

  1. Thanks for the open articles about your ADHD and how it affects (and adds to) your life. Listening to the podcast of Brett Terpstra and you made me smile. Never thought there are more people who stop working when they get paid for it. :)

    I love to start things and as soon as maintenance is needed, I get bored easily. I’m addicted to change I think. Although I lack the H in ADHD, I like to start as much projects as possible at the same time, I like the rush of being able to make things move constantly. An example: though I am absolutely not a programmer, I wrote a program in Ruby on Rails to facilitate the registrations of people visiting our sessions. No one asked me to do it, but I wondered if I could get it done and finish it (the last being the biggest challenge). So I learnt the language. Lots and lots of hours went into it until last week I accidentally told someone about it. They loved the idea and yes, I lost interest.

    I realized this was an awesome distraction, but not something that will pay my bills or something I will keep putting energy in. Hey, it’s software, so in the end it’ll need maintenance. :)

    Impulsively I quit te project, only just smart enough not to completely delete it.

    Next chapter was declaring my ReadItLater list and Pinboard links bankrupt. About 300 articles were waiting there for me to be read. No way. I only add to it and never read it. FOMO, Fear Of Missing Out: what would happen if I didn’t read all that?

    Nothing.

    So now I’m left with a lot less to worry about.

    Will I change my life forever? Of course not! In about a year I will read this post and I’ll find myself in exactly the same situation. Because it’s a part of me. And maybe that’s ok.

    • Thanks for the kind words Sander. Glad to know that there are plenty of us who clearly must hate money :)

      I’m working on something stupid for those of us who are compulsive starters, so keep your eyes peeled. It’s dumb, but I think you’ll relate. Should be up in a few days!

      As for the Read It Later thing, I’ve found a little bit of success in having a similar “processing” stage when moving things from Reeder to Instapaper. I’m just super selective and try to be realistic about how much I can read in a week. I’m still bad, but not quite as bad as I used to be. Having this stronger filter makes it more of a tool and a pleasure than an obligation and a pressure.

      And yep, I’ll likely be pretty close to who I am a year from now as well. Just trying to figure out the best possible ways to mitigate that and use it to my advantage :)

  2. I’m ADD, and to be perfectly honest – medication is my #1 help. I know there’s this entire “you have to learn to live with it blah blah blah” and I respect that. For me, Strattera works, without destroying my creativity (I’m lucky that I found a medication that works for me). My productivity has increased about 30%. It may not sound like a lot to non-ADD people, but it’s damn amazing to me.

    • I don’t think you have to learn to live with it. I think you need to learn to deal with it. And while the medication helps, it’s only half the story. And I hear you, I’m on Focalin and the boost (which I would sum up at about the same) is massive. Just getitng out of my own way. That said, the stuff I’ve learned to deal with, makes that boost even more impactful. If I was good at focusing, but still had crapy workflow, I’d be focused on not getting much done :)

      • Medication is a definite boost. Another boost (almost forgot about this): reading through http://procrastinators-anonymous.org/

        Also, once I read about Demand-Resistance http://frogpond.com/articles.cfm?articleid=mmeyerson01 I realized that a lifetime of ADD has made me rail against anything that slightly resembles that incessant “just focus and get it done” nagging of parents and teachers. Now that nagging is my own internal nagging, hence my tendency to drop projects once I feel pressure to keep it up. I have multiple Due app reminders on my iPhone, set throughout the day, of mantras that have eased the Demand-Resistance. Which has been enormously helpful in maintaining my enthusiasm for projects after the “honeymoon.”

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