Getting Your Life Back On Track

How are you spending your time? Every thing that you do contains three elements in differing percentages: drama, problem solving and waking up.

Drama refers to addictive behaviors, feelings and ways of thinking that keep you stuck in misery. For an overview on drama, go here.

Problem solving refers to life sustaining habits like washing dishes, carrying out the trash and working.

Waking up refers to activities that feed your growth into broader, more inclusive stages of development, like sharing, laughter, learning, exercising, meditation and pursuing your vision.

Most of the time we are doing drama but thinking that we are doing one of the other two. Also, all drama can serve as a wake-up call, but it usually isn’t listened to. We know that, because we keep spinning in the same addictive cycles. How can we change it?

Make an inventory of what you do every day and divide every activity into these three categories. Give each activity a percentage in order to find out where you spend most of your time. Here is an example:

Drama           Problem Solving          Waking Up

Preparing food:                     < 5%                      90%                           < 5%

Eating:                                    < 40%                    55%                           < 5%

Showering:                            < 60%                     35%                           < 5%

Dressing:                               < 5%                       90%                           < 5%

Commuting:                          < 45%                     50%                           < 5%

Doing Housework:               < 45%                     50%                           < 5%

Working:                                < 40%                     45%                           < 15%

Reading emails:                    < 45%                     45%                          < 10%

Social Media or News:         < 80%                      5%                           < 5%

Games, TV:                            < 80%                      5%                           < 5%

Exercising:                             < 5%                       75%                           <20%

Sex:                                          < 80%                  <10%                           <10%

Socializing:                             < 60%                   <10%                         < 30%

Meditating:                             < 40%                     55%                           < 5%

Remember that your percentages don’t tell you how much time you are spending with different activities, nor do they tell you how important they are; the percentages are telling you the quality of the time you spend doing different things. Because some things are more effective at waking you up at others does not necessarily mean you need to do more of them. For example, in the above example, socializing provides a lot of wakefulness while meditating provides relatively little; that doesn’t need I need to do more socializing and less meditation!

Your percentages will change as your definitions of drama, problem solving and waking up grow. There is no right or “better” scoring; it is highly subjective based on your own self-awareness.

Once you have your percentages you can play the game of figuring out what you want to do to shift those percentages in ways that you want.

As you attempt to do so, you will encounter resistance! Surprise surprise!

Your inability to make progress is due to a failure of vision, strategy or tactics.

A failure due to a lack of vision involves a failure to ask “Why?” Here are some examples: “Why am I alive?” “Why am I doing this job?” “Why am I talking to this person?” “Why am I living with this person?” To fix a problem of lack of vision or an unhelpful vision, you need to do three things:

1) Take stock of your life by doing an inventory of your goals, where you want to be in five years and when you are on your death bed, what sort of a life you want to look back on:

2) Determine what is non-negotiable. What do you require to access and maintain your peace of mind? and

3) Navigate criticism. Assume criticism by others is another form of self-criticism because others represent parts of yourself; how you respond to others is how you are responding to the parts of yourself they represent. To learn to navigate criticism learn to recognize your cognitive distortions and eliminate them. A good way to start is to stop using signal words. More information on cognitive distortions can be found in Waking Up. 

Most people don’t ask “why” enough because they are too busy developing strategies and tactics to make money and raise children. They know that if they ask “why” they may upset the balance in their lives and create chaos, forgetting that chaos is an important and useful condition from time to time.

A failure due to a lack of strategy involves a failure to ask “What?” “What do I need to be doing?” “What will help?” “What is a waste of my time?”

The only way to answer “what” is by action. You have to jump in, get started, and be willing to make mistakes. To fix a problem due to a lack of strategy, you need to do three things:

1) Get started quickly, today. If you find yourself procrastinating it’s a sign you need to go back to your vision. What is it? Why do you want to do what you want to do?

2) Do it as cheaply as possible. This means don’t waste your time or money making it more complicated than it has to be. Do an outline, a rough draft and you’ll probably discover you are 80% of the way to your goal. Forget about perfection; be sloppy and just get started.

3) Revise your work rapidly. The best way to do this is get feedback, listen to it and make appropriate changes in what you’re doing. In Integral Deep Listening (IDL) this feedback comes from three sources: authority, your common sense, and subjective sources of objectivity, that is, interviewed dream characters and the personifications of your life issues, in a process called triangulation. This applies to doing homework, writing a paper, cooking a new recipe, learning a new exercise or introducing a new concept/process at work.

The result of this is that you will develop templates of strategies, called “procedures” or “policies” at work and “habits” at home. You will slowly replace “bad” habits with good ones.

A failure due to a lack of tactic involves a failure to ask “How?” “How do I succeed?” “How do I make this work?” “How do I find out if I am on the right track?” To answer “how” you need to do three things:

1) Record your progress. If you want to change something and you are serious, you have to know what, when and how you are doing it. If you don’t want to record how you are doing you aren’t serious; you are stuck in drama, playing the victim and whining. Fantastic apps now exist for recording anything easily so that you know where you are, what’s working and what’s not.

2) Measure your outcomes. How else are you going to know if your tactics are working or not? Again, you have extraordinary help at your fingertips with excellent apps for measuring anything and everything, and these apps keep improving, which is why I am not recommending any particular one. By the time you read this something better is available out there.

3) Review and adjust your tactics. Like riding a bicycle, once you have your recording and measuring procedures in place so that you know that what you are doing is carrying you toward your vision, your life flows. It is like riding a bicycle; to stay in balance you mostly do “tweaking,” making little changes constantly, almost out of your awareness, that keep you on track.

You will find that failures of vision are the most serious but they take the least amount of your time to set and monitor.

Failures of tactic are the simplest and easiest to fix but they also take most of your time because they involve daily recording, measuring and adjusting – until they become automatic. Then you find you have more time to spend on doing things that wake you up!

Strengthening tactic is like exercise involving balance, like staying on a bicycle; once your monitoring systems are in place and running smoothly, you can forget about it and you will stay on track, in balance.

Strengthening strategy is like exercise involving strengthening, like repetitive lifting of weights; once you get used to your work-out routine it is automatic and you find that you can gradually life more weight or handle more, more easily.

Strengthening vision is like exercise involving endurance, like running or swimming; once you have set your “why?” “Why am I doing what I am doing,?” and once you are clear about your why, determining your “what” and maintaining your “how” becomes much easier, because you have reduced both internal conflict and resistance to moving forward. Like running and swimming or playing a musical instrument or dancing, once you have your strategy and tactics down life flows, even when you are working hard!

The result is that you spend more of your time waking up and less in drama.

The material on types of failure comes from: The three stages of failure and how to fix them.

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