My race number arrived in the post today (one of my resolutions!) and, in truth, I’m a little excited. And a little nervous too, because getting the race number means there’s not long to go and it’s all a bit real.
But sometimes we need the reality check to remind us that tasks have to be done: where would we be without deadlines and targets? Can anyone say that when the travel agent asks for the balance of payment it doesn’t cause a frisson of excitement because it means the holiday is getting nearer?
As the freight train of a deadline rushes headlong towards us there are two options, the same instincts which kept our ancestors alive: fight or flight. And that reactive mechanism is itself triggered by a reality check – for example, is this lion going to eat me? And the fact that we’re all here today does tend to suggest that our ancestors were, at least in part, successful.
So, to my mind at least, a reality check helps me focus and sometimes to produce my best work because I haven’t got time to think about a rough draft to be improved over time, I have to produce a result or live with the consequences. As some academics have put it for their particular reality, publish or perish.
And as I said before, procrastination just isn’t an option.
So, what gives you a reality check – and how do you react?