Out on a Limb
A Monthly Newsletter from Martha Clark Scala
Invest in bringing joy back to your life.
May 2010
Welcome to Out on a Limb, a monthly newsletter from Martha Clark Scala. This free e-zine is meant to invite and inspire you to maximize the joy in your life.
Getting it Done

A friend of mine recently told me that his e-mail in-box gets filled by correspondence between colleagues about how to get a specific work task done. His lament is: “why don’t they just DO it?” Sometimes we spend an inordinate amount of time dreaming and scheming about how we will execute, but then fail to do so. Lack of success in completing a task or project is bound to steal your joy away but it’s not as if knowing this, we mobilize ourselves and finish it. Why?

No doubt, there are many reasons and explanations for the plague of procrastination. These two reasons appear to be the most prevalent: 1) If you have any perfectionistic tendencies, you are able to put off any concerns about the quality of what you have done by simply not doing it. 2) There is something about the task that is onerous. It might be emotionally onerous. If so, just thinking about what needs to be done might evoke emotions ranging from dread or fear, to anxiety, anger or grief. If the task is onerous to execute, it might be because its scope is overwhelming, or requires skills or talents in which you lack confidence. And if you lack confidence, you’re back to reason #1. It can be a vicious cycle.

           Liberation can be gained only by practice, never by mere discussion.”
                                                                                                ~ S.N. Goenka

           "You either have results, or reasons.”
                                                                                                ~ attributed to Werner Erhard

          " The person who wants to do something finds a way;
               the person who doesn’t finds an excuse.”       ~ Harvey Mackay

If you see yourself in reasons #1 and #2 above, is it helpful to hear the veiled judgments in these quotes? I think not. On the other hand, any one of these quotes just might be a helpful kick in the behind when and if you need it! A both/and perspective is needed.


We all procrastinate, don’t we? So why judge others when they aren’t getting things done? Do you want to be judged for the areas in which you struggle to get things finished? Why not summon some compassion, for your own and others’ challenges in this arena, instead? If the above reasons particularly resonate, you can begin to devise a blueprint for addressing them. For example, if you know that perfectionism is the biggest culprit, you can look at ways to revise your unrealistic expectations. If you don’t feel you have adequate skills or talents, you can always ask for help.



Sometimes nudges are useful. What might motivate you? Is it one of the quotes above? Some people move past procrastination by using a reward system. Complete the task, get the reward. Don’t complete the task, don’t get the reward. Others can push past initial resistance to get started by establishing some accountability. For example, if you say to a boss, co-worker, or housemate “I’ll have that done by …” you are probably more likely to meet the deadline. The desire to appear competent and efficient can sometimes cancel out perfectionistic tendencies or plain old fear! What might work for you?


Your May 2010 Prompts for Joy

Click here for an amusing and accurate portrayal of a cat who is hungry.

Click here to see an unexpected friendship between an orangutan and a hound.

With thanks to Roberta Gelt, Bobbi Emel and Bill Faure for telling me about these videos.

Joy-Gram for May 2010

Ponder (maybe even memorize?) these lyrics from a song called “Anthem” by Leonard Cohen.:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Here’s hoping these four lines help you minimize any tendencies toward perfectionism.

Grief FAQ
Please feel free to access my answers to Frequently Asked Questions on Grief and Loss at the www.caring.com website by typing my name in the Search box.

Pictured Above
A large dose of joy captured by my cell phone: Asilomar State Beach, Pacific Grove, California, at sunset.


Archives Now Available

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By no means do I have joy “figured out.” Please do not assume that I do! I write Out On a Limb as much as a meditation for myself in the ongoing pursuit of joy, as for you. I think this pursuit is a lifelong journey and that the full experience of joy is, at best, episodic. May we all have more episodes!


Martha Clark Scala, MFT 721 Colorado Ave., Suite 201, Palo Alto, CA 94303

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