๐Ÿ”จ Persistence vs Opportunity Cost

Persistence has been one of my dominant values over my life time, but often it has kept me in bad situations.

When I was going to college I had some trouble my first few semesters and my science GPA was forever after stuck as average, I wanted to go to medical school, but having an average GPA didn’t give me a great chance at it. Then when I tried my best at the MCAT, I again scored average, that also didn’t help much. I could have gone to medical school far from my home state, but my fiance didn’t want to move with me. I didn’t want to leave my fiance and I couldn’t have gone in my home state, so I decided for a few reasons to abandon that goal.

I had been fixated on going to medical school since about age four and it was a river carved deeply into my life and my soul. I studied all of elementary school, ext, I took jobs that allowed me to study as I paid my way through Jr College and worked through the university as well. It’s a story that usually ends with success, but for me it didn’t, for me it ended as my best not being good enough for the competitive area I lived in, and the love of my life, instead of wanting to go with me, not even promising to wait… Reality can be so harsh sometimes.

Many times a woman has to choose between having kids, or having a better career, there are exceptions, but that doesn’t counter balance normal reality that moms that take leave, to have or raise their kids, are seen as not having current skills when they try to re-enter the work force.

Even a persistent, hardworking person can not be in two places at once. My dad is a super hardworking, high energy person, but after the 40 hour work week, he didn’t even have the energy to say “how was your day?” and I understand now as an adult. When you wake up at 4AM and work all day, by the end of the night, there just isn’t much left. My dad did what society required of him, working to support his two kids, but it also meant that I didn’t learn much from him, or get to know him much, until this past year that he has been retired and I am staying at home raising my children. The cost of the 40 hour work week to my family, was us not knowing our dad. Maybe other families make it work, but for my father, his work took everything he had to give. We got the income, but not much else. It’s not that I’m not grateful for what we had, but it still seems like the life balance of a typical family is deeply off balance to what being healthy would be like.

The good part of being persistent is that it’s easy to keep up healthy habits like exercise, but the bad part is that it’s easy to keep up unhealthy habits like studying for the wrong career path, doing too much of the household cleaning, slowly growing apart from your loved ones to tackle personal goals that leave you feeling empty once they are done.

For anyone it’s hard to do new things and easy to do the same things, but for me it’s doubly hard to do new things and doubly easy to do the same things. It may look nice from the outside in, that I can work 126 hours a week when my boss did the schedual wrong and asked me to, but it isn’t really nice knowing that I can get on the wrong path and continue for the rest of my life if unchecked.

Being persistent is good if your self leadership is also good, but most of my life mine wasn’t. I spent most of my life with a lost feeling that I avoided noticing by reading books, playing games, studying, working too hard, exercising, or practicing martial arts. All those things are fine, but not being able to sit with yourself in order to avoid finding out you are on the wrong path for you, is a poor way to spend a life time.

I considered persistence a value, it was on Russ Harris’s value list, but the more I think of it, I believe persistence is more of a personality type. Persistence isn’t integrity, if you eat yourself to death, you can do it with persistent eating, if you drink yourself to death, and beat your spouse, you can do it persistently. I think persistence is probably a biproduct of the way that “neurons that fire together wire together.” It probably means that my brain wires harder right away, to all activities, not that I have more discipline than other people.

Maybe persistence could be good, with mindfulness, with correct leadership, but currently it keeps me stuck in unhelpful routines, more often than it helps me reach my goals or achieve a state of well being. Maybe that is unfair though, maybe persistence lets me do worthwhile things that I don’t yet give myself credit for?

I’ve been converted to the mindset that on our deathbeds what we will place importance on is our relationships, not our careers. If that is the case, than I’m doing the right things, staying at home teaching my two kids, visiting my father and sister each spring and summer, trying to be understanding to my husband and hopefully make a new relationship if we can, when we can, but I don’t feel well with all my life being service to others and or interaction with others.

Everyone in my life wants to speak and not listen, so writing is where I feel I have a voice. I don’t know if that is normal for writers or just part of my poor verbal communication skills? If I stopped writing, it would be as if I stopped speaking, because the speaking I do in my daily life isn’t really voicing my soul at all. It’s just confirming I heard other people, telling people when I will get their water, juice, dinner, start their school time, where the laundry they are looking for is, where the household items are, how much I need for grocheries, when the trash needs to be taken out, if I will get the mail that day, ext. If I didn’t write, I wouldn’t feel like a person anymore. I would just feel like a robot that serves other people, and for me, it isn’t gratifying to serve. I know for many people it feels good. For me it doesn’t feel good to be constantly serving others. I can do it, I will do whatever my kids need done, to keep them safe, healthy, clean, learning, mentally balanced, feeling loved, interested in their inner values, but I don’t get satisfaction from it.

After a day of taking care of my kids and teaching them, if I haven’t done something more intellectual than pouring milk and making dinner I feel as if life isn’t really worth living.

I know it’s not popular to say that, but that’s how it is for me.

If I can do something I really love, gardening, writing, reading, and I take care of the kids, it’s a better feeling.

I guess I don’t like the feeling of putting myself last, even if I have no one else to blame for doing that than myself. Perhaps my tendency to persistently get everything done as soon as it can be done is digging myself into a hole as a parent, since there is almost an infinite amount of things that can be done to nuture or educate the kids and also an infinate amount of discipline and cleaning. I’m grinding my brain too hard, all day and the flow of doing things I like helps revive me.

I don’t know why I can’t enjoy parenting, even though I love my children, but after four years I’m not hopeful it will change for me.

Each year I choose seven values to live by, this year I chose persistence, but I think peristence (doing the same thing over and over) is no longer the right value for me. I think I’m living by it, but that it’s keeping me from living well, instead of helping me live well. I think mindfulness would be a good replacement, instead of just working without thinking, thinking about if what I’m doing matters and prioritizing what I do with my limited time would probably help me enjoy my life and help me have a better attitude towards my family as well.

Persistence sounds good, if you don’t know about opportunity cost, doing something, means something else is not getting done, and it matters a lot to know if what is getting done deserves to get done, instead of what doesn’t get to be done in the same time slot. It takes mindfulness to know what really matters to you, and it takes proactivity to change your own status quo. I think I still need to work with mindfulness, before I can be a good leader to myself, or my children. I’m still running around like a chicken with its head cut off, a little bit too often, but hopefully I’ll change that into running around like a chicken with its head left on soon.

๐Ÿ“• The Four Tendencies

I recently started reading Gretchin Rubin’s book about the four tendencies to help me understand more about my daughter.

I have a three year and a half year old problem, I mean daughter (said somewhat jokingly). Things have always been hard between us, a poor fit, I’m not proud of it, but it’s the elephant in the room I would rather talk about than ignore. Part of the problem is that we don’t understand eachother. I don’t know anyone like my daughter to help me get inside her perspective and understand her motivations to encourage her to be her best self and comply with neccisary health and safety rules in a neutral or pleasant manner.

Recently, I read the Jon Klassen shape trilogy. I really enjoyed it. It’s a children’s serries, but I think I would have liked it even if I didn’t have kids (maybe because I loved “Flatland.” In the shape trilogy there are roudy, rebellious triangles, hard working, yet inflexible squares and emotional, encouraging circles. I really associate with the squares and my husband and daughter with the triangles. At the same time I started listening to “The Four Tendencies,” after another horrible rock bottom moment with my daughter. There were was a lot of syncronicity between the shape trilogy and the four tendencies book. I enjoyed learning about analyzers/promoters/assertives from “Never Split the Difference,” and the 16 Personalities from 16personalities.com (I’m an INTJ), but although they helped me understand and accept myself, they didn’t help me understand and deal with other people, nothing had until now.

I remember being a child myself, I remember feeling in my 20s that eventhough my family helped and supported me in many ways, they had never loved me for me, because they had never known me for me at all. I felt unheard and unaccepted until I accepted myself over the past 2 years, after doing that I still think my family hadn’t known and accepted me, but it doesn’t crush me anymore, beause since I have my own understanding and acceptance of me I don’t feel I need theirs anymore. It took me about 30 years to understand who I am, how I am, what I value, because most of my life I was trying (yet failing) to do and be, what I thought, people thought, I was supposed to do and be. I got my head straight more during a long illness, which forced me to take more down time and evaluate what I wanted to do with the time I had left, since I was made aware that time wouldn’t be forever.

The Four Tendencies book was a really good finish to a journey I started a few years ago to gain a workable amount of understanding of myself as a human being. It’s probably the best of self knowledge, more than values, strenghts, personality, because it transends all of them and interacts with all of them. The tendencies are what you really do on a normal day, the way you live on autopilot, which is how most of life happens.

The four tendencies are upholder, questioner, obliger and rebel.

I am an upholder, I finish the fight most of the time, but I was an obliger just a few years ago. Meaning I put other people first, I could have gone to the grave without ever having played the cello (which I wanted to do since age 8), without trying to write (which I wanted to do since age 5), without enjoying a simple sunset without rushing to clean up or teach my kids or ask my husband if he needed something. It’s fine to help people if you like it, but I didn’t like it, I just felt that I had to put everyone else first and there wasn’t much left over after I was done with what was demanded from me on a daily basis. I’m not that person anymore. My demanding daughter killed that person. Now I put myself equal with my loved ones, not really first, but not after. I think about what we all need and want, what makes since to me to do first and what I have to do now because the chance won’t be there later.

My husband and daughter are rebels, which is hard for me to deal with, but I love them and I think someday the love will carry me all the way through the pain and help me find the wisdom I need to restore the love I want to have between us again.

My sister is a questioner, she is and always has been so different from me that it sparked an early intrest in personality differnces with me. Physically we aren’t too disimilar, small, female, thin, short, but mentally we have always had a different process of thinking about and interacting with the world, besides just having different tastes in food, pets, hobbies, music, books, people.

The book has convinced me not to try to change my rebel daughter and rebel husband anymore, I had stopped trying to change my husband already, but I had stopped out of despiration that it didn’t work, that isn’t the same as stopping on purpose because I accept the way my husband really is. With my daugter, I felt like I had to change her, that I couldn’t release a J-walker into society, but as painful as it will be to see it, she is mainly going to learn from experience what she does or doesn’t like in her life and won’t just take my word about what situations to engage or avoid.

It’s not that easy to change people, but it is possible, because of leverage. I can change the enviornment I share with my daughter and I can change myself and both of those things will change her. It’s subtle, but it’s true. We can change ourselves and we can change others, but not easily just by commanding the world to be the way we want it to be immediately with no time and effort expended.

The best part of the Four Tendencies book for me, is the guide on how to work with people of different tendencies. It’s helped me already, with myself, managing myself as another person. It’s helped me accept myself, when the book talks about an obliger having a burnout moment and refusing to meet expectations, that happened to me recently… after a really hard day my sister said, “we still love you,” to my daughter and I screamed “not me,” if it wasn’t described in the Four Tendencies book I would never have understand why I did something so unkind and uncharacteristic of my typical behavior. I’m not excusing my behaviour, I don’t even need to excuse it, moms don’t loose the right to yell once in awhile while being yelled at, kicked, bitten, pooped on and otherwise abused by kids who get a pass for anything and everything. But, yeah I don’t like yelling at my kids or think it’s the best way to communicate on a normal basis. I could have lived and died without ever knowing why I did yell though, since I have a small baby I could have thought it was post partum hormones, but it wasn’t. It was burnout, because I don’t take breaks. It’s a work place health code violation to go 4 years without a 10 minute break, but it’s standard parent life style in the modern world… I should take breaks, so I don’t get burnt out, so I don’t yell, I never knew that before this book. Because I thought I could live up to an unlivable standard of doing everything my husband and daughter asked me to do before taking a break, but I didn’t know that break would never come, I didn’t know that I couldn’t ever satisfy my daughter and that with or without a break she wanted more than I ever had to give her. Now that I have more insight I can get more help, I didn’t know I needed it before, but I do. I need more help to take more breaks so that when I am caring for my kids I can do my best job, imperfect as it will still be.