Like many others, I’ve been devouring Todd Sampson’s three-part ABC documentary ‘Redesign my brain’. It follows his journey as he undertakes a radical ‘brain makeover’ using cutting-edge neuro-plasticity techniques to boost thinking speed, attention, memory and creativity.
As part of his brain training he is required to learn to juggle with the help of an expert – Nic Price, who explains that the trick to juggling is to stare into the vacant space above the balls. Never focus on an individual ball, or you’ll drop the lot.
As I watched the experiment, I thought of all the times that managing our careers with the rest of our lives has been compared with juggling. People often talk of the balls they have in the air, and about their fear of dropping them.
For successful juggling, perhaps all we need do with our health, family, careers, friends, homes and personal downtime is to switch ourselves to auto-pilot. Stare off vacantly, without a proper glance at any of them – and we should be able to keep going indefinitely.
Stick to the juggling rule and life would effectively pass before our eyes in a whirl of getting out of the house in the morning, attempting to stay motivated and focused at work, feeling as though we’re never getting through as much as we want or need to and chasing it all down with a cocktail of dinner/bath/bed chaos. Repeat.
The juggling experts are right. We can’t focus on everything at once or we’ll drop something. But putting ourselves into an almost trance-like state of groundhog day – absently allowing everything to revolve around us – isn’t really ‘living’ – it’s ‘surviving’. It’s as if we’re experiencing our own lives in a state of relentless numbness and exhaustion…
So what’s the alternative? (To be continued in Part 2)
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