Giving up optimism.. but not faith

I am coming back to my blog after more than an year. Apologies for the long pause in my writing (close to abandoning). There are reasons.

First, I couldn’t take the (self-imposed) pressure of writing consistently. Writing comes to me in bursts and if I am in front of the computer, I write. I rarely plan my writing. But consistency demands planning and discipline. The transition from a blogger-for-fun to serious blogging was too much for me and I failed.

Second, I lose the point. I see things around and suddenly come up with a topic for a post. I may be driving at the time – so I voice record points or jot it down. A day later, when I revisit the points, they either make no sense or I don’t care about it as much. The magic is gone.

Third, blogging came 4th on my list. Everyday I wake up and look up my to-do list, I always find blogging as my 4th. High on interest and priority but not enough to get to it before the end of the day. And guess what, next day I wake up, blogging is still #4. Some other thing trumps this.

Reason # 3.5 : I wanted to move my blog from blogger to my own domain. Its not a trivial task because I had tons of posts (of over 5 years) that I have to migrate. I can’t simply copy them over because search engines penalize duplicate content.. so, long story short, I had to learn “301 redirection” and that’s a lot of effort for a technology-challenged person like me.

So I lost it – seriously!. I just couldn’t handle all this and gave up. I didn’t choose to be spontaneous and not worry about consistency and just write whenever I can. I just chose not to blog at all.

This is when I understood first hand the true meaning of Stockdale Paradox. I read it in the book “Good to Great” and loved it but suddenly it dawned on me that I am acting like the optimists. Vice Admiral Stockdale was a prisoner of war at Vietnam. He was tortured for 7 years but came out stronger than ever. When asked who didn’t make it out of Vietnam, he replied : the optimists!

Oh, that’s easy, the optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”

I was putting blogging on an unnecessary timetable. And when I missed it the fourth and fifth time, I just gave up. Now, I know better. I didn’t accept my reality earlier. I was taking it too seriously. I didn’t say “Its ok not to be consistent”.

Stockdale goes on to say that:

“..You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

And like the “red pill” reality of Neo, my reality is that blogging is always my #4 right now. And at that level of priority, it should be fun than work. The only way its going to happen is if I stay in my “good enough” zone. If I cross it, I will never get things done and the stress of it kills me.

I have been looking for a reason to get back to my “good enough” zone of blogging. Today, I got that reason. You’ll see it in my next post..

For now I am back. I finally moved my blog to my own domain few weeks ago. I will be erratic in my posts, but I will blog. I am sure no one has missed my writing, neither did I. But the pressure is off.. and once I give up optimism, I am free.. and it feels good..

PS: If you want to learn more about Stockdale Paradox here are bunch of links.
Vice Admiral James Stockdale – The Man
– Jim Collins’ audio on Stockdale paradox (click on the 4th link)
– Good enough theory courtesy – Dave Vollmer

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