We bought all of our kids some kickboard scooters for christmas. If you've never seen them, they're much different than the previously popular razor scooters. The kickboards feature a neat two-wheel front swivel suspension with one wheel in the back. It's more like carving rather than leaning and turning with a traditional scooter.
The gifts were a hit. I'd go outside with them, sip my coffee and watch as they'd scoot up and down the driveway as fast as they could, bombing over acorns, leaves, and sticks just before whipping it into the garage. That actually sounds dangerous for my 2 year old. I should probably clean that off better before hand. There's something oddly soothing about the sound of polyurethane wheels grinding into the rough concrete driveway.
As fun as it is for them, this scooting only lasts a couple of minutes. After a few quick 30 yard runs down from the road to our garage, something about the initial appeal wore off for them. They wanted to break out some other toy or go jump on the trampoline, with their helmets still on.
But I wanted to see them really understand how they could carve back and forth with these scooters. They really do have a cool suspension and turning mechanism. I thought they'd continue to experiment with a few gentle nudges from dear old dad. I was wrong.
Suddenly, the cold air hit my face. I took another sip of coffee and saw a bin of sidewalk chalk in the corner of my garage along with some other crap that I've been meaning to clean up. I grabbed a piece and decided to draw them a path on the driveway. I started with a straight line and slowly added back and forth curves. The dust from the oversized chalk blew away in the wind as I admired the chalky grind into the harsh surface.
I made for them a large line to follow up and down the driveway. One that would show them how to carve left and right, make big sweeping turns, etc. They were instantly re-engaged and I started thinking about how easy it was to simply make that chalk path for them. I had a goal for them, made an easy path, provided instructions, and watched it unfold according to plan.
Before, they had complete freedom to do whatever they wanted but they didn't take full advantage of it. They needed constraints, boundaries and direction. This is such a great metaphor for life, business, and design.
I remember early in 2012 I was incredibly busy with work. I was juggling 3 or 4 projects simultaneously, one alone required a full 40 hours per week. Oddly enough, this was the time of year when I was the most productive in my personal time with reading, praying, working out, etc. I had so much to do in each day that I HAD to go to bed on time. And if I didn't wake up at 5AM I would have no time to myself. These constraints on my life at the time, much like the chalk path for my kids, created an environment for me to be successful in ways that I hadn't been before. For years I've wanted to be able to wake up at 5AM and have several hours to myself before the day started, but it has been, (and still is) a constant struggle.
While I appreciate that being super busy with projects helped me in other areas of my life (eg. time management), I'd like to find ways to draw my own 'chalk path' instead of be forced into it by loads of work.
One of my goals for this year is to write a minimum of 250 words per day and so far, 1.5 weeks into 2013, I'm tracking at about a 50% success rate. Good but not great. I have a handful of other goals but haven't gotten specific enough to create a solid path. "Should I go running in the morning or in the evening?" is something I've been asking myself nearly everyday.
I've been so busy with indecisiveness (ie. lack of a path) that I've only managed to go running once in the past week. I'm going to experiment with setting a specific time for each task I want to accomplish for the day and see if that yields better results. I've done this so many times before but I feel like I'm closer to actually creating a habit now.