Thursday, September 9, 2010

Take Initiative

#6 on the Happiness Project: Take Initiative at work.

How does this translate?

MERCURY RETROGRADE has me in a state of unease. I am disorganized, feeling sleepy and slightly panicked, and seriously self-doubting. Why do these things always go altogether like some jambling, horrible, off-key sonata? I constantly feel as though I am a step behind, or too far ahead, or somehow lacking crucial details. This is typical Mercury Retrograde, but also typical of what happens whenever I neglect to allot enough time for what I've come to term "White Space."

White Space is clean, clear, and under control. White Space is "I don't have to be anywhere at this moment but where I am." White Space is "STFU, turn the phone off, and no, I am not answering that email RIGHTTHISSECOND." White Space is an active passiveness, a stepping away.

I find excellent White Space in monotonous activities. Cooking, showering, on the treadmill at the gym. When my body is occupied and my mind is mine, all mine. But you can find White Space in a variety of environments and tasks.

Not driving. White Space requires a sense of relaxation, of not-constant vigilence. Maybe a long drive. Sunset in autumn, wide road, destination far off, no traffic, music blaring. That could be White Space.

White Space is undemanding, and requires nothing of you but the untangling of thought processes and the general resetting of one's state of being. Interruptions, false starts, or impatient stimuli disturb this. does this translate to taking initiative at work and happiness? Well, I define "work" as not simply what you do during business hours or how you make money, but any sort of project that you engage in that requires brain or brawn power. It could be errands, chores, To Do's, any of those things. Taking initiative and actively grabbing responsibility causes wheels to turn and things to get done.

All in the hope of creating more White Space for oneself.

White Space requires a silencing of all other demands, and most of the time the only way these demands in our lives can be silenced is if they are addressed. To pursue White Space means to clear up the clutter of your life, to tie up the loose ends and dot "i's" and cross "t's" and confirm, confirm, confirm. That way, nothing can creep in to White Space. Taking initiative to clear your own plate of responsibility not only makes you feel able and proactive, it also gives you a sense of completion and productivity that will come in handy when you're ready to wipe the slate clean and decompress.

It's sort of like lying on the couch. Lying on the couch, reading chick lit. How relaxing! But wait....did you remember to take out the trash? If it doesn't go out right now, you'll forget. And if you forget, the bins will be overflowing next week and you'll receive one of those ridiculously passive aggressive "friendly reminders" from your Neighborhood Association representative who--of course--has been keeping tabs on the state of your garbage disposal. And taking out the trash requires- crap- that you purchase new trash bags. Which means you have to put gas in your car.

Lying on the couch reading a chick lit book has suddenly become a Thursday evening nightmare of chores and To Do lists.

Taking initiative means keeping all of the little tick tocks of your life up-to-date, in working order, and at least halfway full with a note (physically written and placed strategically) to buy more. To avoid interruption of White Space. To cultivate a sense of completion and relaxation. Which leads to.....happiness. Oh the joy of chores done, clean house, phone calls made, wine glass full, new book to be read, and no where to be or anyone to answer to. Bliss!

I liken it to vacation. When I go on vacation, I want the house spotless, laundry done, bills paid, chores completed so that when I come back, I am walking into a clear space. Whilst on vacation, I'm not lying there obsessing over whether or not I remembered to buy cat litter. It's been done. I took care of it. Breathe sigh of relief. Nothing infiltrates White Space.

Take initiative. On the job, start to notice little loose ends that require tightening. Confirm, confirm, confirm.

(I cannot stress this point enough: CONFIRM!)

I wish you healthy productivity and rejuvenating White Space. Get cracking.

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