all set up no action | Todd Regoulinsky | toddregoulinsky.com

All Set-Up, No Action

Ideas are worthless.

Yeah, I said it. Of course, I’m only one in a long line of people who have said it, so please don’t think any credit is due here.

In learning about screenwriting, I found there was two schools of thought: those who guarded their story ideas as if they were a precious hidden treasure and those who didn’t. And I can understand both sides.

There’s something about an idea that is special, but a lot of that comes from our perception of it and where it came from. The idea comes from us and most of us, for whatever psychological reason du jour you happen to subscribe to, would like to think of ourselves as special in some way. Even the idea that we aren’t special kinda makes you think you’re special because it feels like you’ve figured something out other people haven’t. You’re part of an elite. You liked the band before anyone else. You actually understand and appreciate Infinite Jest. Whatever.

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New Year, Who This?

One of the more interesting aspects of getting older is that, if you’re mindful and pay attention from time to time, you gain perspective. After all, what’s the difference between the stuff I got upset over as a teenager and the same situation now? Perspective. Going through it a few times, I’ve come to realize that it’s not the end of the world and not to freak out. At least quite as much.

Over the last few years, I’ve become more aware of what another spin around the sun means and that there’s actually a lot of things I’d like to accomplish. Maybe they’re not huge things that will change the world or as trite as some of the things that I have on my daily to-do list, but they’re important to me on some level. These are things that hold a certain amount of meaning and value in my life. I’ve also become painfully aware that without some kind of plan, very few of those things will be accomplished by accident.

Which leads me to a quick recap of my goals from 2019. In the cold language of math, last year was an overall fail. I had 15 goals and achieved 6 of them. Granted, most of those 6 were pretty solid goals that have enriched my life and I tend to operate on the “it’s the not the ones I’ve missed it’s the ones I’ve caught” philosophy, but still… that’s kinda rough to look over.

So how did I fail to achieve over 50% of my goals last year? Funny I should ask that way because “how” is part of the answer.

My goals where lots of what – what I wanted to do – but were very light on how – how I was going to achieve it. The successful goals either already had the how (a plan of some kind) baked in or were ones that I was likely to want to achieve anyways. Having a goal isn’t enough, there has to be a plan – and for myself at least, having the plan built into the goal works the best.

I spent the last week of 2019 coming up with a list of goals in my normal 3 categories: personal/creative, business, and church/spiritual. Now, it’s time to do my second draft on those goals and begin answering some questions. Sure, that’s a nice goal… but how am I going to do it? What’s a simple way to state it as part of the goal so that every time I glance over to see where they’re tacked up on the wall, I see the end goal along with how I’m going to get there.

Winter Goals

I almost called this post “Winter Resolutions” until remembering I don’t do resolutions anymore. Maybe they work for some people, but for someone as easily distracted and prone to busyness as myself, they’re too wishy-washy and vague to be of much use. Several years ago, I ditched my new year resolutions and started in with yearly goals.

What I’m working out today isn’t a goal yet, but it’s heading in that direction.

Yesterday, I bumped into a concept I remember reading about a couple years ago. Usually, when something like that happens, it’s a tip off that I need to pay attention this time around. The article was about the Norwegian concept of koselig – a sense of coziness.

When I quit driving for FedEx, my winters improved immediately. How could they not? I went from driving around in a truck that had minimal heat, freezing hands and feet no matter what I did, dealing with snow storms, icy driveways, and all the rest. Going from that to sipping coffee from inside my warm living room watching the flakes fall was downright heavenly.

However, that’s been awhile and I’ve felt seasonal depression nipping at my toes the past couple years. Put it alongside a busy schedule and coziness starts sounding pretty good. So I’m trying to build a goal around being a bit more kos this winter.

I’ve started reading some other articles to get some ideas, but what’s struck me most is the idea of being at home with friends and family. The idea of setting aside some time specifically for that might sound obvious, but it’s a bit of a revelation to me. Call me a slow learner, I don’t care.

One of the other takeaways for me is just changing my attitude towards the weather itself – especially the part about there being no bad weather, only bad clothing from the first link. I’ve always struggled with finding outside winter activities as an adult. My one trip snowboarding was fun, but I mostly spent the day making craters in the mountain with various parts of my body. Maybe it’s time to finally find that winter activity and get going on it.

So there you have it, a goal in progress.

Plumbing

I’ve just spent the better part of an hour trying to get the drain in our bathroom sink to drain properly. Since a lot of the more wondrous and corrosive chemicals don’t play with with septic systems and ours is roughly 30 some odd years old, I tend to lean into the more gentle and natural solutions whenever possible. So a box of baking soda, a gallon of white vinegar, and new plunger were my weapons of choice for this mission.

It’s pretty interesting the things that can be accomplished with baking soda and white vinegar. Baking soda is a nice scrubbing agent for things you don’t want to go medieval on with steel wool and vinegar helps to take the stink out of laundry. Fun stuff and they also work pretty well on drains (in my experience). Well, this time around, it took a few rounds and a bit of work with the plunger, but we’re draining again.

What struck me afterwards was that a bit of regular maintenance would’ve made this job simpler or perhaps eliminated it altogether. The next thought that came to mind was that creativity is a lot like that too.

By keeping the creative muscles somewhat in shape, it’s a lot easier to get into some heavy lifting when you need it; rather than trying to lift a car off someone when you’ve barely done more than lift cans of beer for the last five years. I’ve found myself seeking out new ways to keep creativity supple, or to borrow one of Tom Brady’s favorite words, pliable.

Finding those little routines and disciplines that are the creative equivalent of stretching has been a challenge but also a lot of fun. It’s the reason why I’ve been journaling more on a daily basis and also part of the reason for my yearly reading goals (which I’ve already surpassed for this year!). Even taking in creative helps keep the thinker ticking along rather than seizing up. Because if there’s one thing that I know, things tend to seize up at the worst, or most inconvenient, times.