Monday, April 20, 2009

The Difficulty with Having Been a Slave...

I've been listening to The Chronicles of Narnia in the car on CD lately, and recently, in The Horse and His Boy, I heard a quote that struck with me. The gist of it was something along the lines of "The problem is, of course, that once you've been a slave, and then you're free, it's difficult to make yourself do quite as much as you can do. Because of course, what you can do and what you think you can do aren't the same thing."

This stuck in my head because I've been thinking lately about self-management a lot lately, what with the switch a few years ago from being a full-time employee when my tasks were in part demanded by others, shifting down to a graduate program where somewhat less was required of me, then back up into a more demanding program.

The annoying part is that, immediately after I started my first program where less was demanded externally, I was able to self-manage quite well to produce a lot outside of what was externally demanded of me. Then, frustratingly, came a period of lesser production as I shifted disciplinary perspectives within a program where more was required of me.

The thing is, now that I'm used to both the more demanding program and the new disciplinary perspective (I'm an accumulative learner), I finally feel as though I'm back up to--and in fact, have surpassed, thanks to the extra external expectations--my initial grad student productivity, a fact that bodes well for the less-structured time ahead.

I just hope that, now that I've made it into the zone (in a more balanced way, no less), I'm able to port this motivation and productivity into keeping up the creative output as well as into playing hard in the breaks I can get from keeping up the self-management. I think it might be possible, but I'm certainly not expecting it to go perfectly...

Ah, the efforts we make to temper hope with realism and vice-versa, hoping that the realism won't keep you from doing your best and that the hope won't raise your expectations to the point where you can't adjust if and when it becomes necessary.

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