First, thank you to everyone who posted a comment on my post last week about The Dip by Seth Godin. Your comments, and the rest of the book, are forcing me to take another look not only at how I use my time (and money) but also at what I see as my “long-term goal/strategy” and the “tactics” I’m using to get there. What do I want to accomplish? What “moves” will help me get there?
I agree with Carole Mikoda who commented here that an important step in managing the Dip is to de-clutter our lives in order to open up space for more important things. Sometimes that “clutter” costs money as in all the “educational products” that are constantly vying for our attention at every turn: new subscription sites, professional memberships, and other similar (some worthy and some not so worthy) products. So, I’m starting to ask myself: do I really need this right now? Is this helping me get to where I want to go? But, of course, the most important question is, what do I want? What will my “best” look like? And, is the Dip worth getting through? Do I believe I can do it? Is the time this takes up worth it in the long run?
By asking these questions I can start to eliminate those tactics that simply take up room. I know this is a simple idea. Godin himself repeats it several times in his book. The issue is that in its simplicity we often miss its true power and dismiss it as we fumble along the same path, not getting very far but avoiding doing something about it. It’s easier to deal with the known, as unproductive as it is, than with the unknown precisely because it is uncertain and unfamiliar.
Godin’s advice is to quit before you start. In fact, the best way to quit something, he says, is to plan to quit rather than to quit because you’re upset or frustrated about how things are going. In other words, don’t quit on a whim. According to Godin that is the worst time to quit. He says, “the decision to quit or not is a simple evaluation: Is the pain of the Dip worth the benefit of the light at the end of the tunnel?” (p. 55)
Right now I’m at an impasse with my proposal for my doctoral studies. I have a block and I’m having a hard time getting through it. Is this “the Dip”? I think so. Is going through the Dip worth it for me? I think so. Is it going to be painful? Probably. Am I willing to quit now? No. I’ve invested too much of my time, money, and energy at this point to quit and, because I’m stuck right now, it’s not a good time to quit. Godin would back me up on that, I’m sure. So, I have to push myself through the Dip because I think my proposal and the ensuing research I will engage in is important. It will move me further in the work I want to do with teachers and to improve education for students in my corner of the world, now or wherever that corner ends up being in the near and distant future. So, am I willing to quit? No. What do I need to do to get through the Dip? Lean into it, as Godin says. Get through it. Push my way through the storm. Brace myself for the hard knocks. Stick out my neck. Keep on truckin’.