It sounds counter-intuitive. Were’nt we always told to show up 100% ready for everything that we are dealing?

But the point is when you try to get a subjective measure exactly right and give your fullest, its likely that you will be disappointed. Trying to reach perfection, you’re mostly more than a 100% ready, which is to say about 120% or 130% work of what you would actually need. You’ve done your best and you’ve overflowed the mark that you needed and now you are sure the outcome will be desirable.…and when it doesn’t, unfortunately, you go in a shock and recoil. Add to that, since you are overworked you have lesser bandwidth to deal with any new direction, you are exhausted.

When you show up 80% prepared, you well know that you’re not trying to get it exactly right. If things don’t go as per plan, you’re prepared. You have the bandwidth to listen to what is not working in the moment, absorb it and to change directions.

Getting anything exactly right always depends on multiple factors apart from your efforts, showing up 80% prepared acknowledges that.

We often blame social media for making us feel distracted but as Oliver Burkeman points out in his book 4000 weeks:

The overarching point is that what we think of as ‘distractions’ aren’t the ultimate cause of our being distracted. They’re just the places we go to seek relief from the discomfort of confronting limitation.

When we work on the more mundane parts of the meaningful projects we want to execute we crave for a joy that we might have lived, had we spent our time elsewhere. But because we are bound to our work and somehow know that we ought to do this meaningful work, we turn to the virtual worlds to give us that joy, to be somewhere else rather than file those documents, paint in those drawings, toil over a page of writing.

But distractions only take away the energy, even if mundane or painful, from the work and only postpone the finish line somewhere further. In some cases even destroy the project altogether. A project that has to be redone in a future time, a time that actually could have been used to enjoy in a way that the mind was craving to, but now can’t be.

Like anyone who runs knows, thinking about relieving your pain or fantasizing comfort while doing that lap will only throw your breathing off, inevitably making your running even more painful. So is with every task. Focus on it so that it gets done soon and gets done well and keep the joys of what could be, for a later time.

What we think in our minds will always be better or worse in a way unplanned when actuality arrives. It will never go as per plan. And what a boring day it would be if we couldn’t discover anything beyond what we have planned. Giving up to this uncertainty is like giving up to watercolors, to recognise it can work its own magic beyond our plans. To listen to it and find joy in it is the best we can do. Like watercolor does its magic on paper so does time on your mind, all you need to do is allow it.