When I’m at work, I’m an exceptionally productive person. I trust my own judgement in that, but I have a feeling that all of my managers after Barnes & Noble would agree (I was not a productive salesman!). Around the house, when it comes to chores, I’m reasonably reliable. The trash will go out, if not immediately. The dishes do get cleaned, if not that night. The lawn will get mowed (so I keep telling myself).

When it comes to my own personal projects, though – writing, drawing, etc., staying in shape, maintaining a sense of style, and even the more developmental home jobs (like the landscaping), I’m just not great at getting things done. It’s not really through a lack of effort or attention – I’m great at starting projects, at working around their edges, at planning them and laying them out, but not at methodically driving through them. I think to myself that I work while its fun, and abandon what becomes dull, but that’s not really a problem with work or chores. And it’s not a problem when my personal projects are being overseen by someone other than me.

For example, I have a handful of Coera-related drawings languishing in the “Current” folder, but I push myself to wring out a SWAG drawing for each monthly challenge. I peck around the corner of several stories I’m writing now, but in my novel writing classes, I could turn out 60 solid pages in two months, breaking right through the dull spots and the writer’s block and the incessent short breaks to get a glass of water or check what Kim’s doing.

So, I think the thing is, I need a personal manager. I don’t need to be graded on my work, or paid for it. It’s not the fear of losing a paycheck or even, really, the motivation of getting a raise or a promotion that makes me want to do a good job. It’s the recognition from my manager and my co-workers that make it worthwhile. I’d never be happy with building a very clever database that tracked what I was struggling to manage with paper receipts, unless I showed it to someone else and got some kind of praise for it. The utility of my work and the self-satisfaction are there as factors, but they are completely outweighed by the external response.

So I need someone who is invested in the silly things I do, in my health, in my writing, in my drawing, in my home repairs, who will give me meaningful deadlines, who will give me a bar to surpass, who will give me someone to impress so I’ll strive for excellence.

Maybe that is a role husbands and wives are meant to play for each other. Perhaps the back and forth “nagging” which has become a comic charicature of traditional marriages is an adaptive form of co-management that fills this need for everyone who feels it (which is everyone)? But “traditional” family cohesion is popularly supplanted by unions of co-individuals, partners whose interests are a sort of Venn Diagram – they are cuffed at the wrists with some common interests, but are largely facing different directions. Maybe thats a better picture of the “traditional” family structure, too, once you get to know June and Ward Cleaver as people instead of as Beaver’s Parents.

But maybe what I really need is to figure out how to make self-satisfaction meaningful. How can I do this without becoming narcissistic or anti-social? Is it even possible – is it a personality trait, or a feature I can cultivate in myself, like courtesy or generosity?

Advertisements