If I'm managing the incompletions of my world because in truth I simply want to disengage from my life, the stress never really goes away. Oh sure, I can get a grosser level of relief - and sometimes lots of it. It's great to get my head empty, my in-box cleaned up, and my project and action list updated. But after all that, a part of me can still want to check out, leave, go numb, or in some way blot out the deeper noise that's still there. It's not a big, traumatic, or obviously negative thing I'm avoiding. If it were, it would probably be easier to identify. It's a low-level incessant buzzing that seems to infuse everything with dullness. I experience things coming into my world as irritations, not opportunities. I can't wait to "finish" - so that I can go do something to escape from the whole process! But inevitably with that approach, defeatism creeps in: Why should I even start when there's never any finish? Whoops. Now, that's a negative self-fulfilling loop in my mind if there ever was one!
If, however, I'm able to move my inner awareness to a more spiritually connected place, more from my heart than my head, it's a totally different game. It's the same activity, but it's draped in elegance and ease. There's an acceptance of whatever is in front of me, and I'm curious about its possibilities. There's an interest in processing all my stuff with our workflow methods because it deserves that - or rather, because I deserve it. When the fulfillment is present inside me and I'm okay with myself at the deepest level, it's not about getting everything done. It's just a process of doing - and a very conscious process at that. What am I doing now, and now, and now, and now... ? And is this the best way to be doing it?
The wonderful paradox is that the more I get attracted to focusing on the outer physical world (and everything that goes with it), the more I find myself attempting to escape the slings and arrows of that materiality. The more spiritually I'm focused and the less attached to the physical I become, the more productively engaged I seem to be within the material world. I have a clearer sense of where things fit for me in the grander scheme, and I don't allow myself the laxness of being irresponsible for the smallest details about things and activities.
The paradox that David Allen is describing here, as I see it, is between the long-term quest for mastery and the short-term benchmarks along the way to that mastery. We say that "mastery is a never-ending road" on the one hand, and on the other we say "You must establish achievable, quantifiable and verifiable goals". How do we reconcile these? Furthermore, how do we make the discipline and process of training less of a grind and more of an "opportunity" to be relished every time we suit up?