We are under-resourced. You are under-resourced. What is wanted or even expected from all of us outstrips our capability to deliver it. Life and work are simply not possible. You can blame yourself for poor time-management, you can blame your management for their unrealistic expectations or you can blame the government or the geo-political economy. Hell, you can even blame the aliens who are beaming their procrastination ray down at your brain. It won’t matter, you still won’t achieve everything that you want or are supposed to.
Is this not just defeatism? Am I not just letting the government or poor performing managers and workers off of the hook? Shouldn’t we be arguing that we need the resources to do the important job of work that we do? Of course we should, but if we succeed and our resources are doubled, it is only then that we will really understand how under-resourced we are.
Human beings are creative. Give them a problem and they will probably solve it. The only problem is that in solving it they will probably be creative enough to identify another problem.
- I can’t push that block of granite around quickly enough.
- No problem, put it on wheels and Bob’s your uncle.
- But sometimes the wheels go too quick
- No problem we can push a block against them to “break” them.
- But, sometimes the wheels don’t go quick enough.
- Hmmmnnn, let’s attach a motor to them.
- But the motor is belching out fumes and poisoning the air.
- OK…. let me have a thnk about that.
And so it goes on. What is more when the problems that you are dealing with are essentially concerned with other human beings (e.g. in education or careers work) the creativity has the potential to fire in all sorts of different directions. So we end up with…
- Students find it hard to get a job.
- Let’s set up a careers fair so that they can meet employers.
- I don’t like going to careers fairs, they are boring.
- Let’s go to the pub instead.
- How can we get students to come to the careers fair.
- Let’s hold it in the pub.
Again the permutations are endless. We can always do more, develop our provision further, go deeper with our clients, spend more time on evaluation and so on.
This is problem with ideas about time management. We can never actually “manage” time. What we can do is spend our time doing things that are worthwhile at the same time as recognising that while we are doing these things we are not doing an infinite array of other things.
So what does this mean for any hope of feeling personally fulfilled? Firstly, it means that the key ability that we need is the ability to prioritise. Prioritising is all about having a strong sense of your values and an ability to weigh up the returns that might result from various actions. It is about seeing what you want and what is possible and about handling the tension between the two. Secondly we need to be able to handle the fact that we are constantly shutting off possibilities and ignoring opportunities. Handling this constant sense of loss without allowing it to become crippling requires a willingness to live in the moment and to positively move forward from here. We can learn from the past, but there is no purpose in regretting the past.
You can never achieve everything that you are capable of. You can never finish your work or get enough resources. All you can do is drive a line through the valley of infinite possibility. You are making choices about where that line goes in every minute and second of your life. You can’t know where these choices will take you but you can be sure that it will be forward and not backwards.
You’ve just chosen to read this blog post. What are you going to choose next?