After the loss, the regeneration. After Winter, Spring. I decided that this year was going to be my Spring so it makes sense that I should take a look at how I am going to continue growing.
In a private email to Clarisse Thorn, I wrote that after reading her closing message on her blog, “I think I feel like someone taking their first steps on their own (first 2-wheeled bike, first swimming lesson, fledgeling leaving the nest for the first time – take your pick for the metaphor) and not feeling ready yet.”
But of course, this isn’t the first time I have felt like that and sometimes I fell and sometimes I flew. If this is my Spring then I have to believe that I will fly. Ready or not, now I have to figure out my own way. So the next step is to work out what I need in order to do that.
To date, when it comes to seeking advice on socialising and/or dating, most of what I have done is sift through a lot of advice that is tailored to a market and, one way or another, is about making money. So if that’s your business, then you write, present, or teach a system that addresses the needs of the audience you expect to pay for it. I distrust the value of the advice to me, so I get the freebie bits that those people offer to promote or discuss their ideas and largely these seem to confirm my scepticism. Sometimes I see a concept or idea that I think I can adapt or relate to, but it’s still a case of “90% of everything is crap”.
Even freely offered, or philanthropic, advice seems to have only limited applicability, or it skips over the parts where I find the most difficulty. A phrase that often came into my head during such investigations was, “you have to adapt the plan to fit the tools and materials available” – paraphrasing something that I have heard great sporting coaches and managers use over the years. I’m the wrong type of player to fit into this formation/scheme.
It occurred to me as I thought about feeling adrift in the world of bloggery and dating advice, that what I was doing was arse about face: I need to think first about the advice I need, and THEN about how to find advice that addresses MY issues. If it is true that I have the wrong tools and materials, that I am a player trying to fit into a system that doesn’t suit my talents, then the next step should be to figure out what the tools, materials and talents I have actually are.
With these thoughts in mind, I sat down and had a think about how I might address these points.
I came up with the following questions to address:
- Where do I find difficulty – what are my problem areas?
- What sort of social venue would be most conducive to my meeting people/approaching women?
- What do I have to work with?
- What things about me can’t or won’t (I) change?
- What abilities, knowledge and skills do I have that might be useful?
- What are my objectives? What does “success” look like in an interaction and in the longer term? What does “failure” look like?
- How do I respond to people – what makes me like them, dislike them, interested in them, disinterested in them?
The first two I found easier to think about, and I already have some pretty mind maps and a summary of the results of the “What are my problem areas?” one that will help me when I start to think about what I’m doing. The “What do I have to work with?” questions are quite similar to the SWOT Analysis categories of “Strengths” (skills, abilities, etc), “Weaknesses” (things that won’t change), “Opportunities” (loosely related to “objectives”, also related to ways I can find info) and “Threats” (again, there’s a loose connection with “how do I respond to people” – inasmuch as sometimes I perceive you lot as threats!) But they also are pretty big questions about the self, so it will take some digging to work on them.
It should be pointed out that “objectives” is not (in a dating sense) the same as “what sort of person do I want to meet?” although that plays a part. It is much more about the type of relationship that develops (and that goes for making new friends, too). I forget where I saw the advice (it may have been Evan Marc Katz, or Charlie Nox), but one of the most interesting and smart comments I saw about building a dating website profile, and about dating in general, is to “make yourself into the type of person that the type of person you want to attract would want to date”. So to do that, it’s kind of important to (a) figure out what sort of person I want to date and (b) what sort of person they want to date (which comes under “what are my problem areas?”).
In essence, this is the same approach that had success in my job search (at least, to the extent that I got an interview). Instead of thinking about the usual approach of “who’s advertising jobs?” or “what job would I like?” – I sat down and thought about what employer I would like and what they would look like. Who could make me enthusiastic about working for them?
So, instead of thinking about how to deal with the social venues that I have previously encountered, why not design the venue or setting that would give me the best chance of interacting happily, and then see if I can find something out there that looks like that? Instead of searching through thousands of words aimed at some generic punter, hoping to find something that’s aimed at me – why not decide exactly what advice would be offered and about which questions, and then find out who is offering that advice?
It’s a truism, but one that is easy to forget: if you’re looking for something, it helps to know what it looks like.
[NB – since I’m going to be writing reports on how this all goes, I’m going to give the project the code SCW, after the title of this post, which in turn comes from a famous prayer – SCW is now a category on this blog.]