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Within a sequence of decisions, your most hesitant and vague decision will have the greatest effect on the overall consequences. Alexander Cortes
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« Getting to Your Goals: Step Four | Main | My Favourite Time Management Tool »

Feeling Good

One way to improve your general ability to work and keep going is to monitor how good you are feeling. Procrastination, stress, overwhelm, burn out are all very closely linked and it is difficult to be feeling good when one is suffering from any or all of these! However the reverse applies too. It is difficult to be suffering from stress, overwhelm, burn out and procrastination when you are feeling good. So monitoring your overall state of mind can have a very beneficial result.

It’s very easy to do this. Let’s try it now. Stop reading for a second and ask yourself “How good am I feeling now?” Answer by giving a mark out of 10. If you are feeling tense and upset you might answer “3”. If you are feeling on top of the world you might answer “8” or even higher. Try it now. What was your answer? Write it down on a piece of paper.

If you did this in the way I just suggested, a couple of questions may have occurred to you. One might be what I mean by “good”. I quite deliberately didn’t give you any definition of what “good” meant. The reason is that you will discover what “good” means for you by the act of asking “How good do I feel?” The more you ask the question the more you will begin to realise what your mind is looking for when it provides your answer. You will also notice which things in your life tend to affect the score. So don’t worry about the definition of “good”. You will find the right definition for you by practising the exercise.

Another question you may have asked yourself is how much you should think about the answer. Should you spend some time deliberating it? No, the best answer is the one you give straight off the top of your head. You may find it easier to give the answer as “4 or 5” rather than as a single figure.

Now, this is important: once you have given your answer do not try to make yourself feel better. Just carry on observing your feelings by regularly asking yourself “How good do I feel?” This will make you more aware of your state of mind and that in itself will tend to have the effect of increasing the score.

Ask yourself the question again now. Write the answer down again. Is it the same as the first time or has it changed? You may find that your score has increased already. If it has, that is simply because you have become more aware. Don’t worry if it hasn’t!

This technique is a very subtle one, but also very powerful. It takes time but you will find if you keep using it your score will slowly rise. If you started out feeling 3 or 4 most of the time, you may find that it rises within a few weeks until you are feeling 6 or 7 most of the time. Bear in mind that when this happens you have altered your entire mental sense of well-being. This will inevitably affect many areas of your life. I cured myself of a fear of flying (caused by being in a helicopter crash) by using this technique. During my first flight for over eight years I was able to maintain a score of 10 throughout the entire flight, including take-off and landing. Since then I’ve flown all over the place.

Reader Comments (10)

A related question, used in self-inquiry meditation in Buddhism, would be "What am I feeling?" One would then go on to acknowledge that feeling, in a friendly way such as "I acknowldge that I am feeling X" "I accept that I am feeling X" etc.
September 17, 2010 at 20:55 | Unregistered CommenterMC
What a relief that autofocus helps me to get away from time as a taskmaster, critic or driver attitude of "You've failed if you aren't productive". Perhaps "bearing fruit" for the day would be better than productive. Fruits should be loved, enjoyed, appreciated. Aim for fruits, not goals.
September 20, 2010 at 11:53 | Unregistered CommenterMC
Hi MC - thanks to your ruminations, this wonderful 2006 post by Mark has bubbled to the surface. I now have on my AF4 list, "How good am I feeling right now?" - and I write my grade there and then, every time the task stands out.

And I can attest to what Mark says here - every time I write the number corresponding to how I am feeling, I get a general picture of what is affecting me at that point in time, and what I need to do to try to feel better.
September 20, 2010 at 14:49 | Unregistered CommenterJD
Thanks JD. Nice to "meet". i just got the "Dreams" book and am luvvin it. Sorry, teenage daughter's influence.

A word of warning from Derek Sivers - don't tell people your goals ( He argues that it gives you a feeling of satisfaction when you tell people, so lowering your motivating energies!
September 20, 2010 at 16:27 | Unregistered CommenterMC
And now a contrary word from Barbara Sher: Tell people your goals, and get them to rally behind you. Their encouragement will increase your motivating energies. :-)

Of course you need to tell the right kinds of people. The wrong kind will simply say "who cares" or "don't bother". The right kind will say "how's it coming?" and "how can I help?"
September 20, 2010 at 16:39 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Tell people once you've made a good start. Then decide whether when to tell them more depending on how they react. Impressed, jealous, too helpful, supportive.
September 20, 2010 at 20:12 | Unregistered CommenterCricket
A slight tweak to this idea is : "What feeling am I creating?" which works for me. It encourages and supports self-accountability.

I find the perspective of idle curiosity about what's creating the bad feeling is the most useful. Trying to make a bad feeling go away though is a bad idea. Resisting what's occurring treats "what is" as if it were not supposed to be there, but it is there for a reason, so best to find out what the reasons are."Pain is the product of resistance to the natural self" as someone said.
October 22, 2013 at 22:03 | Unregistered Commentermichael

That's a good question. And you are right. It's not a good idea to try to make a bad feeling go away. Bad feelings become less common as your awareness grows.
October 23, 2013 at 0:53 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
...and just to add that the feeling always comes from what we believe about things, or how we interpret things, or define them to be. If the can be seen in a new way or re-defined, the feeling changes.
October 24, 2013 at 8:27 | Unregistered Commentermichael
...and many months later I find that actors use this as an exercise to be more conscious and aware, ultimately opening to unconscious reactions.

"Personal Inventory is a spontaneous, moment-to-moment flow of feelings and responses to the world. This is the basic structure of Personal Inventory: Ask yourself out-loud, "How do I feel?" And answer, "I feel...(whatever comes out of your mouth)" Ask again, "How do I feel?" and answer again. Do this over and over, expressing yourself in a stream-of-consciousness fashion. This means you express a flow of impulses, in a "blurting" fashion. It's a brilliant technique originally created by Master acting teacher Eric Morris.*"
March 3, 2014 at 21:15 | Unregistered Commentermichael

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