Do you want to be happy? Do you know what determines whether you’re happy? Maybe you do. Maybe you have no idea. I’ll give you my interpretation.
Somewhere deep inside each of us is a little gnome. (Stay with me.) The gnome experiences everything we do. He’s the one who actually cares about what we do. You may be very good at getting things accomplished efficiently. The gnome doesn’t really care. He cares about what you’re doing.
He’s an opinionated little guy, and most of us don’t listen to him very often. “Quit your job,” he’ll say, “this is no fun.” Or “Major in music. It’ll be great!” No, you say, that’s not practical. I can’t do that. Nose to the grindstone, be productive, force yourself through it. But there’s a problem with that idea:
The gnome always wins.
You can will your body to do things the gnome doesn’t want you to do, but you can’t will yourself to enjoy it. Turns out the gnome’s got a monopoly on your feelings, and no amount of willpower is going to make you like what the gnome doesn’t like.
We’re happy when the gnome is happy. We’re sad when the gnome is sad. We’re anxious when the gnome is anxious, and he’s anxious when he feels powerless. He’s powerless when we don’t listen to him.
Nothing Undone is about listening to your gnome. He’s got a lot to tell you, and you might not like to hear it. He’ll tell you that you’re in the wrong career. He’ll tell you your friends aren’t good for you. He’ll tell you to eat differently. It’s a lot to deal with. But humor him and listen to just one thing he says today. See if you don’t feel better.
The articles on this site are here to help you. It won’t always be obvious how. It won’t always be obvious to me either. I just write what the gnome tells me to write, and sometimes he mumbles.
On this site, I’ll often talk about tools that help me hear what my gnome is saying. Some of my favorite come out of David Allen’s Getting Things Done approach. On the surface, many of these tools just look like “task management” or “time management” or “productivity” aids. For many people, that’s what they are: ways to do more.
I use GTD tools to figure out what I really want to do. I figure out what will truly fulfill me, and I do the hell out of it. Then I toss out everything else. On this site, I’m going to show you how to do the same thing. It keeps the gnome happy, and when the gnome’s happy, I’m happy.