what to doA good friend told me it’s time for me to stop procrastinating, stop writing about 1000 different subjects, focus, and get off my ass and do something. I left my employer of 27 years, five months ago, because I could no longer stand the stupidity, the greed, the politics, the suffocating hierarchy, the imaginative poverty, and being a part of the problem instead of part of the solution.

But after the initial exhilaration, I’ve been caught in analysis paralysis. The things I would be best at doing, the Meeting of Minds opportunities that immediately dropped into my lap, are not that dissimilar from what I was already doing, and though they’d pay well, they’re not what I want to do. The things I’d really like to do, the things on my How to Save the World Roadmap, the things that would make a difference, are either way outside my competencies, or would (probably) be strictly volunteer work, and I’m not independently wealthy enough, even though we have reduced our footprint significantly in the past year, to work for free. Or, perhaps more honestly, I’m not courageous enough to work for free, and just see what happens.

Another good friend, a pragmatist and a brilliant man, told me I should pick two things, one from the List 1 (yes, I have lists, you know me that well) of things I do well that pay well, the Meeting of Minds stuff, and one from the List 2 of things I really want to do, and spend half my time doing each. If I could get past my bull-headedness and idealism, I would follow his advice. But I keep hoping that something will come up that will be up in the top right corner of the chart, the career, the calling I have been waiting for all my life.

The first good friend said “What do you really want to do?” and I replied that I’d like to write my novel, the idyllic future state story of humans living in balance and harmony with the rest of life on Earth, and then dedicate the rest of my life to making it come true. He said “If you wrote the book, what’s the very next thing you’d want to do?” He brushed off my ‘buts’ and insisted I answer the question — “What’s at the rightmost end of your chart?” I blathered through some List 2 possibilities — studying and becoming an expert in interspecies communication, or human fertility, or storytelling,  making my novel into a film, working for Greenpeace or some other environmental activist organization, working in politics to get taxes shifted from income and employment to resource consumption and waste, running a renewable energy co-op, inventing animal-free foods that are nutritious and taste great — and finally came up with two things that topped them all:

  • Managing an environmental ‘think-tank’, a physical and virtual ‘space’ that would welcome caring and creative and knowledgeable minds to work together to come up with ideas on How to Save the World, and plans to implement them.
  • Teaching children and young adults (ages 5-25) about Gaia — the worldview that Earth is a single, self-organizing and self-regulating organism that knows better than any single species, and shows us, how we should all live — and then teach them Critical Thinking skills, and finally how to make a meaningful, joyous, self-sufficient living by creating New Collaborative Enterprises.

My friend’s advice was simple. “Write the damn book. Now. Get it finished, get it out there. Then decide if you can afford, on your own terms, to do either or both of your two Next Things. If you can’t, pick the thing from List 1 that gives you the most money, and/or the most spare time to keep working on the plan, and the skills development, that you need to do the two Next Things, and do it, for as long as you have to.”

That is what I’m going to do, I think. Thank you for listening.

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20 Responses to THINKING OUT LOUD

  1. xian says:

    Your friend is wise. Can’t wait to read your book. You can do it!

  2. Interesting. Have you ever talked to publishers about your book idea or this is right from square one?

  3. Myke says:

    Go for it Dave. You’ve got a lot of people pulling for you.

  4. Peter Bailey says:

    Great stuff Dave. Brave. Honest. Full of integrity. Scary as hell, but then, life is too short not to. Do it!

  5. Peter Bailey says:

    PS. Three years ago my sister-in-law decided that what she really wanted to do was to be a published author. So she set out, visualised what she wanted to accomplish, and the steps for manifesting this to happen. She stopped listening to all the people who told her it couldn’t happen, how no one succeeds, or who just wanted to put their own negativity into her head. She worked out the kind of messages she wanted most to convey (Gaia earth magic for teenage girls), and put together a proposal. And now she’s a published author with two books in print, a third one about to appear, and a ten-book publishing contract with Random House. All while continuing to live in a sleepy little valley amidst the mountains in Australia. You can make it happen too.

  6. Dave:Go and get it damn it!!! as Peter say life is to short just do it!!! ill tell you my persobal history, 4 years as a business consultant for one of the big five (i travel all around) but what i really want to was my own business.I quit to years ago and i start alone in a small 2×2 room with my lap top now i have a partner 3, people (virtually) working with us not for us and 8 health natural products in the market; it has been as hard as hell (we sell EVERYTHING WE HAD to make it hapend) but its worth it and please do this exercise that was very helpfull to us: Imagine your self in the last hour of your life…you see back in time and what do you want to say: “Damn it it was hard but i live the life just like i dreamed” or “I could not do it…if i just had more time”Our best wishes Dave and come on men just do it!!!!! be part of those who proudly say: “I am living the life i dreamed”

  7. Dave,I believe tha focusing on your chosen goals you will not only make this world a better place, but also provide an inspirational example for others who need a bit more courage to do what they believe in. And may be this second thing is even more important…

  8. Dave Pollard says:

    Wow. Thanks everyone. Darryl, I’ve kicked it around with two publishers but I wasn’t ready to submit a proposal yet. I have identified two publishers, one in the US and one in Canada, who I respect a lot and who I’ll probably send it to first. But I may well break all the rules of publishing and just write the book first, and then worry about the proposal once it’s written (they tell me you should always submit the proposal, outline and a sample chapter early on, to avoid later ‘disappointment’ or rewriting). I have the outline and storyboard done, the introduction written, and a good deal of the body of the book already in my head and in reams of notes. So now my desk is cleared, everything else is back-burnered, and I’m off…

  9. Kevin says:

    The causes that you are most interested in could really use the momentum that would be gained from your full-time participation, Dave. And just think of the momentum that your old employer has already lost by your quitting. Of course I don’t know your financial situation, but maybe giving up your dream house, which would no doubt serve for good purposes on it’s own, would allow you to devote your time to activities that pay much less, and in the end the net-good done might be greater than the net-good achieved if you build a sustainable house, but in order to do it you have to use your skills and time for organizations that promote opposite values.

  10. Kevin says:

    Whoah!!! Who’s that guy in the side-bar picture?!?!

  11. Dave Pollard says:

    Kevin: All the comments I got on my last picture were negative (‘manic’, ‘pale’, ‘self-important’) so I dug through all my pictures and came up with this one — a bit pretentious, perhaps, but less severe than the last one. Too much, you think?

  12. Pretentious? Nah. This photo ought to score you the lead in your local production of Bye-Bye Birdie.I sympathize with your plight. There’s so much to do and so little time to do it in. It’s hard to focus.My father, now 90, has been asking me what I’m going to be when I grow up since I was four. He’s still asking.I have taken to quoting Jimmy Buffet. “I’m growing older, but not up. My metabolic rate is pleasantly stuck.”You’ve served your time, now spread your wings and fly!By the way, if you ever establish that think tank, I know where you can find a helluva PIO.

  13. Cyndy says:

    You’re halfway there. Indeed, go for it!

  14. Rob Paterson says:

    As a fellow book writing procrastinator, Dave please go for it and then all my excuses for not doing this myself will be invalid

  15. Kevin says:

    Not that I didn’t like the last picture, or the one you have there now, but if your having trouble finding one you like yourself, point that digicam into the mirror and snap 100 or so. There is bound to be something in there you like.

  16. Edward Furio says:

    Dave: Just Do It, I am an Argentinian Procastinator, too.When you get the book ready, I will appreciate that you could show it in my country, where many friends of mine reade your weblog. There are MANY posibilities for do things (even in Argentina). Thanks a lot for your site, For me, is the daily dose of imagination. Good luck, and one question, the guy on the left is your little brother ? ?

  17. Dirtgrain says:

    Dave, I also encourage you. Based on what I have read from you over the last year, I think that nothing is outside of your competencies. You are highly literate, super analytical and critical, dedicated, honest, compassionate, and on and on. Add this to your collection of lists. By the way, I very much like the lists and diagrams–they help me process information.

  18. Isn’t choice wonderful?

  19. Jon Husband says:

    It’s obvious you can do this – just choose a topic, and link together all your blog posts on or related to that subject, and sit down with an editor for a couple of weeks – and you’ll probably have a working draft of that book.

  20. sniser says:

    Hey.. random visitor who wants save the world too haha! Good luck on your book and life in general.. thanks for giving a shit =D

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