“Gearing up” metaphor

7 January 2010 by Jennifer

Sometimes it’s not a bad idea to “do the easy things first” – because sometimes once you’re “on a roll”, the hard things don’t seem so hard.

Sometimes I get into a sort of negative feedback loop like: “not accomplishing much, hence feel frustrated and incapable, hence no momentum / energy, hence not accomplishing much”. And I mope about.

Typical thoughts I might have in this state include “I ought to be more productive”, and “Look at these important things that aren’t even moving at all – aargh!”

Then by way of reaction, I might get a slightly exasperated urge to “go for the main things right now and stop faffing about”. Which, if I were to heed it, would launch me straight into the hardest tasks.

But in fact, it seems from experience that this is usually unrealistic for me, and trying to do it only leads to more stuckness. If I’m feeling stuck and low-energy and maybe a bit hopeless, what I’ve found usually works in fact is to start with minor pottering about and build momentum.

So e.g. rather than telling myself “Must… do… accounts…”, it might work best to tidy a small area of a room, and then think “Yay! what next?”

Gears in a car

A while back, I was talking about this on a thinking session, and I came up with a new metaphor: it’s like gears in a car.

Suppose you’re driving a car, and you try to set off in 5th gear. What’s going to happen? Probably the car will jolt, and make a noise it’s not supposed to make, and stall. And probably what won’t happen is the car goes off zooming really fast.

It’s not designed to work like that; you’re supposed to start in first gear (or maybe second, depending on vehicle and circumstances), and work up.


And I thought: I must remember this. It’s pointless trying to make myself get all majorly active straight from a mope, when it’s so much more workable and natural to build momentum gradually. I know this, but it seems to be one of those things which is easy to forget :-)

I have more to say about this topic! But that will do as a start.

3 thoughts on ““Gearing up” metaphor”

  1. Thanks for this post, I had never thought of it like that but it makes perfect sense. I am always putting myself into overwhelm in this way, may print this out and post it somewhere unavoidable.

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