One of my favourite books is Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It’s no exaggeration to say that it changed the way I view the world and that it had a huge impact on my life. But it contains very little actual motorcycle maintenance information.
In tribute to the lack of motorcycles, let’s look at some multipotentialite maintenance by loosely pretending that we’re all motorcycles.
Puttylike editor: Neil, have you been at the fizzy drinks again?
Multipotentialites! Are you operating at your peak capacity? Are you in need of a service? Perhaps your metaphorical engine could do with a tune-up?
Well, sadly, annual services only exist for cars and other motorised vehicles. And even if they did exist for people, I’m not a mechanic – or a surgeon – and am therefore not the best person to perform them.
But, as a multipotentialite, I refuse to let my lack of experience stop me from trying.
How to “tune-up” a multipotentialite
1) REMEMBER you can’t operate at your peak all the time
It’s tempting to push yourself as hard as possible, particularly if you’re juggling many projects. But our peak performance is just that: a peak. We can’t spend all our time there.
Most of the time we should aim to comfortably motor along, and only hit the accelerator up to maximum occasionally. Too much constant acceleration wears us out!
If you’re pushing along as hard as you can, let off the accelerator slightly and coast along. Your engine will thank you.
2) USE the in-built repair functionality
Trust your instincts!
Actually, wait. Don’t trust your instincts. They might be saying some crazy stuff. But do listen to them.
Without thinking, answer the question: “what one change would benefit me the most right now?”
What do you come up with? Diet? Scheduling? A change of project? Rearranging the items on your desk into just the right order?!
Maybe have a think about the direction that sends you in, and see if there are any experiments you can run that will help you run more smoothly.
3) VARY your usage
Multipotentialites aren’t designed to do the same thing all the time. If you’re constantly working on long-term, super important projects, you might benefit from a burst of enthusiasm by picking up a new interest. Or if you’re flitting from passion to passion, perhaps one idea is crying out for a slightly longer commitment?
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut without realising, so take a moment to review how you’ve been spending time lately. Would it be beneficial to you to make a change?
4) INFLATE your tires correctly
You know those regular maintenance tasks you ignore on your car, and how after putting them off for months, when you finally do make yourself do them, the car suddenly feels much better to drive?
What are those tasks in your life? Are there minor frictions and irritations that bother you every time you try to be productive? If so, how can you remove them?
If every time you turn on your computer to work, you have to fight through a tremendous pile of junk, take a moment to move the junk. Removing these little irritants helps you to run smoother and with less frustration.
Next time you sit down to work without that friction, you’ll be able to get more done!
5) CHANGE your metaphorical engine oil
… nope, I don’t really know what this one means. Sorry.
6) CONSIDER traffic conditions
There are several questions we need to consider…
How’s your environment? Are you working with it or against it? Is the world fighting you at every step, or is it smoothly carrying you forwards?
… but the answers don’t necessarily correlate to our actions.
Sometimes everything might be smooth sailing, but that might be the perfect time to make a change. Maybe you’re too comfortable. Other times, everything might be a disaster but we need to push on. And the opposite can apply too! Maybe all this resistance is a sign we need to stop and rethink.
The only mistake we can make is not considering these questions at all. A tune-up is the perfect time to review the landscape.
Look after yourself
All of this adds up to a simple directive: make sure you’re looking after all your various needs. Regular time for reviewing yourself, your work habits, and your use of time can be very helpful. (And it doesn’t even have to be loosely themed on motorcycles.)
Do you ever feel like you need a metaphorical “tune-up”? When you do it, do you focus more on self-care or more on changing your work life?
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