Taming Monkeys Aftermath

It’s the first day of 2012 and I think it’s time to review my taming monkeys experiment. It all started a year ago, when I decided to ditch my new year resolutions. Instead, I replaced them with twelve monthly challenges, in which I wanted to tame an inner monkey. Very shortly, an inner monkey is an unfulfilled promise I made to myself, or a thing I really wanted to do but never really had the time to make it happen. If you want to know more about my definition of an inner monkey, go ahead and read this post. If you want to know more about the entire taming monkey process, go ahead and read the iintroductory post.

The Twelfth Monkey

This was the December monkey. If you followed my blog or social media presence, you may have noticed that I was extremely quiet during the month of December. I hardly wrote 3 blog posts and had very few social media interactions. It was almost like October, when the monkey was “talk less and do more”. But it was also different from October.

In other words, I didn’t pick up a monkey for December. Or, if you like it this way, the December monkey was to have no monkey at all. So, not much to write about it. Other than living a regular life and doing my stuff each and every day, there’s nothing more to tell. Sometimes, writing about stuff can make it obsolete, up to the point you’re not into it anymore. Keeping a log, a personal journal, even a public blog, can definitely help you achieve more and stay on course. I know I was a very strong advocate of this and I still am. But for every up there’s a down. For every peak there’s a valley and for every explosion there must be an implosion.

Writing too much, like I did on this blog for the last three years, may be alienating. It’s like projecting your desired life into writing, instead or living it. Blogging, like every other part of our existence, needs balance. It needs a sense of reality and equilibrium. I know many of you are visiting this blog almost daily, looking for inspiration. Creating inspiring texts is easy for me. I can do it the same way they build cars, ten per day. But at the same time, I need my own life, with its own boundaries and personal challenges. With its secrets and concealed spots. I don’t know if this is a universal fact, but for me, having a personal space proved to be extremely important. So, sharing too much, about too much, for too much time, it’s not a good thing. At least for me. And when it comes to inspiration, I’d rather create it on the spot, if there’s a real, internal need for it. From my part, that is. Not forced from external circumstances.

The Taming Monkey Experiment Results

I think the hardest part in evaluating an experiment, any type of experiment, is in the metrics. What exactly are you measuring? What are the “in” values and what are the “out” values? Since this was by definition a very foggy experiment, in which the actual elasticity was more important than its precision, I think I’m just gonna give a bird eye view of what happened. In other words, there won’t be a recap of all the experiments and an exact evaluation of each of them. You can just go ahead and read all of them, if you’re interested in a more exact evaluation.

It Worked

First of all, the experiment was a success. The mere fact that I gave up the quantitative part of my life (do “more” stuff) had a huge effect. I stopped blaming myself every time something didn’t go as expected. I stopped beating myself up every time I wasn’t up to something. And that is something I did constantly, at least for the last 20 years of my life. By replacing my goals with a pack of monkeys, I shifted from a one-two-three evaluation of my life, to a more playful and guilt free approach. I may not have accomplished more, but I lived more.

Fears And Liabilities

Second, I finally faced some of my deepest fears and liabilities. You know, when you surround yourself with “stuff” you did, you tend to forgot that you have an imperfect nature. You even start to think that you’re ok, just because you did all that stuff. Which, of course, is nothing but stuff. You still have your unfinished businesses from childhood, your apprehensions, your taboos. So, when I finally gave up the “look how much I accomplished this year” approach, which was like some sort of pressure on top of my hidden fears, keeping them deep inside, they finally exploded.

So, I had to face the fact that sometimes relationships are going to disappear, to melt away. And that moment, the second they’re gone, is the best moment for you and you should just accept and move on. Don’t cling to the past. It’s gone. It’s like a rock going down in the ocean. If you keep clinging yourself to that precious rock, you’ll always be with it but you’ll eventually die. This year was about my last long term personal relationship, which ended up with a divorce, but also the relationship with my son, which entered a “no man’s land”. Both were meant to go like this. But I kinda desperately cling on to what I thought it was something worth to preserve, only to find myself choking on my own memories. A good thing to mention though, was the fact that I kept all my promises involved in these relationships. Which were completely useless for the other part and only meaningful for me, but I still kept it. Good for my morale, anyway.

Another liability was my attachment to my public image. Without even noticing, I was convinced that there must be a link between what I do and my public image. Which is completely wrong, of course. What I do is something that I can control myself, whereas what others are thinking or writing about me, is something that I have no control over it. So, the link is inexistent. For the last 5-6 years I’ve had a fair share of violent attacks on the blogosphere and, lately, even from my own son. My public image was seriously hit. Well, it may safely stay hit, if you’re asking me now. I finally understood that there’s nothing of value in keeping a balanced public image. After all, people are free to say whatever they want about whoever they want. If somebody thinks I’m an idiot, he’s right. If somebody thinks I’m a genius, he’s also right. Do I agree with both? Nope. I agree only with what I think about myself, and I leave the public image to those who have enough time to build me one. As good or as bad they want it to be.

There were many other fears and inner liabilities that were revealed during this year, but I’ll just stick to those two above for the time being.

Slashing Away Chimeras

Third, I realized that some things I started but never finished, well, they never worth finish. One of the monkeys was about finishing a fiction book. Never finished it, of course. I applied all my internal discipline (and, oh, I know I can be freakin’ disciplined when I want to) but nothing really happened. Another internal chimera. Just because we are linking this unfinished thing to a positive context in our mind, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good thing to do. Finishing a fiction ebook was something that was very positive inside my head. But it was also just an image, a positive context in which I was projecting myself. The moment I actually started to write it, I realized it was shallow, thin and ego-driven. So, I stopped the whole process.

Back To Curiosity

Another subtle effect of this experiment was that it allowed me to resort to curiosity again. I said it many times and I will say it again, I don’t consider myself a very skilled individual in any area, although I do know a lot of stuff about a lot of stuff, but I do consider myself almost pathologically curious. I’m attracted to many apparently unrelated areas, and, in the process, I learn and achieve a lot.

By stepping away from the traditional fixed goal structure, and replacing it with a “monkey taming” approach, I allowed myself to just be curious again. If I really look back to last year, it was probably one of the best years in terms of new stuff that I tried. I went paragliding in New Zealand, I entered a new business partnership in a blogging related area, I visited Hong Kong, I met dozens of new people, I self-published myself, got translated and published in Korean, and a lot, a lot more.

I think curiosity is closely linked to our desire to live. Without curiosity, we barely survive.

What About 2012?

I don’t have any measurable goals for 2012 right now. I don’t even want to tame monkeys anymore. But I’ll keep my curiosity awake and just stay put. If there’s something worth pursuing, I’ll just do it.

9 thoughts on “Taming Monkeys Aftermath”

  1. You may have accomplished more than you think. Anyway, you made me pick one of my inner monkeys and decide to tame it by the end of this month. This monkey of mine is building a Java desktop application using Swing. I also got the idea of the application from your blog, from the post describing how to implement ADD using pen, paper and magnets. I had set out to buy magnets as a present to myself for Christmas, planning to use one side of the refrigerator instead of a whiteboard. I couldn’t find green and yellow magnets from the first attempt, but then I got the idea of a computer application simulating a whiteboard with magnets. I’ve been looking at it since the middle of December, and today I decided to make it my January 2012 monkey. I don’t think I will want to tame one monkey each and every month, but doing this from time to time sounds like a good idea.

    • Yeah, exactly, that’s the spirit! Just pick one thing that you left dragging behind for a long time and try to do the best out of it. As for “accomplishing more than I thought”, I don’t know. But I do know this approach worked far better for me in 2011 than a traditional new year resolutions one.

  2. Could you post your unfinished fiction book ? Perhaps someone else will pick it up, or it could end up as a crowd written book.

  3. when your list of A Better Life in 100 Ways enters my mind i revisit your page from my favorites menu. recently, i subscribed to your fb site and began commenting to my friends about it. i just found your blog and look forward to reading here as well. sending you this note of thanks for all the helpful information because i’m still figuring out a lot.

  4. Yes,i am one of them WHO find it interesting to read your blog.AND(I am not giving to say BUT)I am going to AD something which changed My life; LEARN to FORGET yourself…and I want to ad even one more Wisdom;when i create,the more i Can FORGET myself in the process,the better it is…the more of à Poet I become…HAPPY NEW YEAR!


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