I have a confession to make.
I’m against sticky notes. Oh, not all of them. I’ve been known to leave one on our door so I didn’t forget to either put food in the oven or take it out (our scrounger cat eats everything), or to remind my husband to take something with him when he leaves the house. I’ve used them in my freelance work, and sometimes to add a quick note to a parcel before I mail it. I’m not against sticky notes for those purposes.
I’m talking about sticky notes in my office. There was a time when I used them capriciously, often colour blocking them with artistic flair even while they mocked me about the things I meant to do. I held on to the whimsy of their importance–even though they never got done.
After all, the illusion of being busy and productive is EXACTLY THE SAME as being that way.
A few years ago, I declared a moratorium on sticky notes once I discovered the same super-sticky kind I used in my freelance job will strip paint and drywall if I leave the never-going-to-get-done list on the wall. As I debated how to phrase my confession about why I moved the picture in the office to cover up the hole where the sticky note used to be, I decided I can’t afford to use them anymore, even if they do come in shapes of stars and circles and arrows.
However…last year, I taped a small card to my computer, breaking my sticky note rule. It reflects my most important writing lesson:
When crafting stories, I’d realized a tendency to report how a situation affected my characters before I’d told the reader what the situation was. Or a character would react angrily to something the other person hadn’t said yet. Timeline issues were a big challenges. My little mantra has helped me even as I critique the work of my writing partners.
This morning I realized it continues to be one of my biggest personal faults.
I’ve been working on my tendency to interrupt someone who is talking to me. I think quickly–which is different from thinking something through completely–and I’m guilty far too often of replying before my friend is finished saying what she wants to say. I’m conscious of it, yet I still catch myself reacting before I know for sure what I’m reacting to. I’ve hurt people.
I’ve been on the receiving end as well. People have assumed what I think based on a conclusion they’ve leapt to, or have reacted to something they believe I did without verifying to see if I actually did it. People have hurt me.
We react before we comprehend an action. We focus on the effect of an issue rather than the cause of it. It all gets so complicated, doesn’t it?
Like so many of us, I’m drafting goals and objectives for my next business year. I removed the sticky note because in my writing, I’m confident I have internalized that lesson and it’s time to focus on the next one.
Instead, I’ve rewritten the card because once again this is a life goal. Cause before effect. Action before reaction.
Even a fool who keeps quiet is considered wise,
for when he keeps his mouth shut, he appears clever.
Proverbs 17:28, The Voice
What are the mantras that help you?