I'm many years into GTD -- 6 or 7, I'd guess -- and I've decided to re-work my way through pretty much each corner of my system this month as a way to refresh and (obviously) re-examine my direction. The process has been great, and messy, and challenging; what's been interesting is that I find my previous 50,000 foot statement feeling....stale, and sort of untruthful, and as such I'd like to really dig deep at that least examined section of my system. I came back to GTD Connect to attempt to find focused work on the 50,000 foot level -- a webinar, for example -- but I'm not finding as much as I'd like (except for the "higher level webinar" which feels a little more cursory than perhaps I'd like). Anyone have any resources or thoughts re: Purpose and Principals toward which they'd feel comfortable pointing me?
I think the reason there is no course to teach one to reevaluate these principles is because it is deceptively easy: You evaluate these ideas and decide if these are the goals/principles/roles worth developing and pursuing. The lesson I learned is that I need to be in a relaxed state to be able to do this evaluation well and honestly. So several years ago I came up with the biennial Think Weekend Retreat*, where I literally go off to a retreat center** for a weekend to decompress mentally, physically, and spiritually. Sometimes with a friend, sometimes alone. After a day of exercise, relaxation, prayer, and fellowship I find I am then in a frame of mind to do this type of hard and honest evaluation. The evaluation takes less than half a day, but I really need a day and a half to get in that frame of mind. Like the Weekly Review, the think weekend has become an invigorating and an indispensable part of my practice of GTD.
** I found that there are lots of retreat centers withing an hour or two of me. Many are affiliated with a religious group and most will let you buy into the "Unguided Retreat" option where you have a spartan room, and meals, and use of the grounds - all at a very reasonable price.
When comes to planning at the "loftier" levels - of anything (business, for example; vision; mission etc) - I find it useful, if not necessary, to start with a bottom-up approach. I find it very impractical to try to grab something "high-level" out of the blue and then assess it and break it down in a way that becomes meaningful to the present situation.
It is so much easier as a first step, and also gives you a useful "benchmark vision" to compare with, to instead try to summarize the present situation very honestly ("nakedly" if you will) onto higher and higher levels - in other words describe your present as accurately as you can in terms of AS IF you had had this or that vision (etc) up until now. (If you were an outsider, what would you have believed were your vision?)
When this has been done as a first step, it becomes relatively easy to see opportunities for possible improvement, and to break it down a bit to see whether it is realistic and still desirable (in terms of what you would need to add or subtract at the concrete level from what you have been doing so far; and what the likely overall outcome would be). It may be necessary to iterate a few times, testing a few alternatively amended visions, to find one that will work well.
Thanks guys -- interesting stuff to play around with. One of the reasons it feels like a necessary maneuver for me is that I just recently had children (twins)(hold your applause) and it struck me as one of the kinds of life-events David Allen talks about in particular in Making It All Work -- it occurred to me that I needed to make sure there was better alignment with the kinds of things I work at, and the kinds of things I want my life to be about. A retreat sounds like a great idea -- I'll see if I can make something like that happen. And I agree entirely with the idea of starting at the bottom and working my way up; but I think too that there's a little bit of synergy there: that the bottom-up approach creates the system (that's how I learned GTD, anyway), but now that the system is in place there's a tension to insofar as the highest level also serves not only as an assessment of the present, but a kind of roadmap for my future. So, a lot of interplay here.
I much appreciate the current (and perhaps future?) insight and input,
Thanks guys -- interesting stuff to play around with. One of the reasons it feels like a necessary maneuver for me is that I just recently had children (twins)(hold your applause) and it struck me as one of the kinds of life-events David Allen talks about in particular in Making It All Work -- it occurred to me that I needed to make sure there was better alignment with the kinds of things I work at, and the kinds of things I want my life to be about.
I reckon that having children is probably the biggest life event you can go through (yes, I'm going through it too). There's a temptation to pass on my purpose and values to my children but, on the other hand, I want them to be independent people who can think for themselves. Most importantly, I don't want them to make the same big mistakes that I have made in my life.
It can have the effect of crystallizing the higher levels... some goals now become impossible and others become definite, and of course new ones appear. The biggest thing is that life becomes less about you, which can be painful to realise.
This is a discussion I've been avoiding with myself and it's been a huge gap in my GTD practice. The only insight I can offer is one a friend gave me when I told him I'm uncertain I even know who I am or should be. He said it doesn't have to be about discovery. It can be about definition. Who do you want to be? From the answer to that question you should probably be able to identify some goals, projects, and next actions.
But you need to discover who you want to be. I don't see any other way. For me, sitting down and trying to "work out" the higher levels never works. The answers "just come", usually when I am doing something mundane. That is discovery. That's what the inbox is for.
I'm just saying there may be things outside of your experience that are as valid as whatever works for you. My friend's suggestion was helpful to me so I offered it in that spirit. That shouldn't be threatening to anyone. It's just another idea for people to consider.
I quoted Hamlet because I thought Shakespeare phrased the idea more powerfully than I likely could.
Nothing you have said was threatening, in fact I found where you said "you have to have the conversation with yourself" very interesting. Thanks for the thoughts
A lot of people think DA should have provided more structured guidance about the higher levels in GTD. I disagree. I think he was right to approach it like he did. There are as many paths to self-actualization, fulfillment, enlightenment or whatever you want to call it as there are people..
I agree with the sentiment mostly; I don't think I'm looking for the level of guidance that you get on the ground level (like, "Get an inbox" or "labellers are awesome [which they are, of course]). But I also think that there's maybe too much room provided -- if you scan GTD Connect, or GTD Times, or the books, or emails, etc, there's an extraordinary imbalance in even philosophic approaches to the highest level, almost to the extent that the mystery of them is impenetrable. I'm deeply curious about the process of arriving at more meaningful (and useful) higher levels and though I'm not looking for 250 pages on implementation, I do feel that in a system that is so operative and specific there is an amount of additional work that could be done to drill down further.
For example, a 60 minute webinar only on 40,000 and 50,000 would be, like, incredibly badass (which is about as nerdy a thing as I can say).