Setting the Stage
As part of my calculated not-so-risky risk that I am undertaking, I have to complete a self-paced online course. I signed up for the class over two weeks ago but only just started it yesterday.
This is a change for me.
Normally, I refer to myself as a reverse procrastinator – I get it done in a short period of time under immense pressure, but I do it at the beginning of the timeframe rather than the end. Yeah, I was the weirdo kid who wanted to get her homework on Friday afternoon.
Adding to that, once I make a decision, I act upon it. Quickly. Very quickly.
So, combining those two traits along with my excitement about this new life trajectory, and I wanted to start the course as soon as I had signed up.
Which was at 7:30 pm on a Tuesday night, after a long day at work and less than two hours before I head to bed.
I could have started. There was nothing holding me back.
Except my understanding about how important it is to set the stage. A smooth beginning pays dividends throughout.
I started paying attention to this when I first started meditating. It was difficult for me to stay centered and avoid distractions. I soon learned that if I spent a few moments preparing the space by tidying up and perhaps lighting a candle or some incense, I was much more successful. The energy spent setting the stage was a transitional moment, a time for my monkey mind to receive the message at what was to come.
I found that the same idea carried forth into writing. Some days, I am consumed with words and they simply flow unencumbered. Other days, I have to be more strategic. Those are the times that I have to set the stage. I make sure that my glasses are off and my contacts in. I have coffee or tea or water close at hand. I ensure that disruptions will be minimal. In other words, I prime my mind for writing.
Setting the stage is important within relationships as well. John Gottman talks about the importance of avoiding harsh startups, finding a correlation between how a disagreement begins and how it will end. It’s not easy when you’re angry or frustrated to take the time to set the stage for a positive interaction. But those few moments of intention 9and holding your tongue) are perhaps as important (if not more so) than what actually needs to be said.
Setting the stage is a time for pause. It is a time to think about the outcome we want and how to limit the barriers to that end. It is a time of preparation for the real work and a time of transition for the mind. It’s a trade of between patience and consequence.
A well-set stage doesn’t guarantee a good show, but it certainly makes it more likely.
As for my internet course, I waited to start until yesterday morning when I was well-rested and could remove other distractions. I’m glad I did. I flew through 20% of it in just a couple hours with no stress and no pressure.
The stage has been set. A positive start to the course gives me a positive feeling about the whole endeavor.
And that’s worth waiting for.