Friday, November 21, 2014

Thinking Big from Thinking Small

It's been a quiet month , postings-wise, but busy out in the world.  Work for both me and Boo has been quite heavy.  So, I've found myself doing much more of the usual domestic stuff while her seemingly endless days of long hours continue.  Additionally, I recently endured another round of legal fun with my ex-, so I have had lots of time force-focused on what I'd call small-ball.  Get through the day stuff.  It helped me recognize that by spending so much time in the deep detail, you really can't get out above it to see the larger picture without some effort.  Today's musings are along those lines.

Small Ball
What is thinking small?  I think that's perhaps the most important question followed by "how do you recognize when you're blocked in by it?"  Thinking small comes in all shapes.  I've had it happen when I'm working on a very fine point on the bus, like fixing the coolant leak.  While that thing plagued me, I couldn't get out of it enough to see the bigger project and plan things out.  As a result, after I fixed the leak I languished for a few weeks trying to figure out what was next.  The past 3 weeks, I've been focused on personal budgets, domestics, day-to-day work and the upcoming legal event.  Each of these presented the opportunity to think both big and small, but the pressure and fatigue had me down in the weeds.  My focus was picking up dishes or running a load of laundry.  Really small stuff.

Spotting It
How do you know you're thinking small?  Consider the time horizon of whatever you're focusing on.  Does it vary?  Or, have you rutted into a fixed and shorter time period?  Consider the scope of the issues you're thinking about.  Are the different things varied in size?  Or, are they all somewhat the same size?  The less the time horizon and scope vary, the more you'll find yourself in a shrinking space.  Without recognizing it and making an adjustment, you'll only be thinking small.  Bigger plans won't come to you inspired.  Instead, you'll be deep focusing on tiny details.  While going deep into details sometimes necessary, being there all the time traps you from greater ideas.

Changing It
Sometimes, the event you're high-centering on has a fixed point-in-time, like my legal hearing.  Once it passes, the Small Ball passes with it.  Other times, the thing you're focused on has to complete before your mind can let it go.  That was the case with my coolant leak problem.  But, can you force yourself out of the deep?  Yes, you can; there are lots of ways.  My favorite is going to a travel website and pretend to plan a trip a few weeks or months out or trolling JamBase for a concert a few weeks out.  By looking that far ahead, you trigger yourself to force your mind into a different time horizon.  Spend at least 15 minutes in this different time horizon.

It was this kind of thinking that got the TDI-into-a-bus project started in the first place.  I had spent so much time deep into the effort of getting my center-mount Weber carb to operate well at or below dew-point that I couldn't see the rest of the bus project.  I poked around for different power ideas, read some bulletin boards, and started to get my mind out of the deep detail.  Then, I totally switched it up and did a bunch of research on cob housing, and that flipped the switch.  I needed to poke around for different power answers first: force the mind to change the scope horizon.  Then, break free of the small with a completely different exploration at a high level, like cheap DIY housing with available-on-premises materials.

While I needed a day to emotionally recover from the hearing, I spent part of the next day researching heating solutions on the bus.  Just like that, I'm able to think big again.  Now, I'm asking myself what could camping season look like next summer?  If I can get a diesel heater integrated into the bus, could camping season start in April?  or even earlier?  What would the interior look like if I put a soft headliner in?  What if all of the seats were covered with the same fabric?  What about the exterior paint?  For some, this is still thinking small, and I totally get that.  For having started so deep, projecting work out beyond the next couple of days... thinking about things that could take a few weeks is a big step.

That's about it for today.  I'll keep stretching to consider bigger targets.  Maybe I'll resurrect that idea about a mountain cabin.  That was often a very effective tool to pull me back out of the weeds and consider life and my place in the world differently.  Thanks for following along, and now that I'm out of the depths, I might have something to post about again before the month is up.

No comments: