Week 13: Workflowing, Don’t Stop Just Because You’re Fine, Reaction Formation

22 in 22? Don’t mind if I do!

#9 Create a workflow for new projects and know how long each part takes realistically

While I haven’t actually figured out what is the best format to keep my checklist in, I have managed to “relativize” the amount of time each part of my podcast actually takes.

In an ideal world, this would mean that I would be able to re-distribute my time to make space for the other projects that I love to do, or that I need to do in order to make progress (like querying literary agents.) But the problem is that I feel like I am constantly trying to “get ahead”.

I do need to get ahead, given the fact that school breaks are a reality that need to be planned for, if I want to keep up my weekly rhythm. And I am fortunate that my partner in crime, LiElla, is a “think-aheader” too.

I just don’t know how far ahead I need to be in order to feel like I can step back and concentrate on the other important things. I don’t transition well between activities. Shifting my creative focus is not easy, and I just wonder if I’m not going about it all wrong trying to marble together the different projects in the course of the same day.

Anyhoo. This question is occupying my thoughts these days, since another school break is quickly approaching and I desperately want to not feel dragged under by guilt for not being fully present for my boys, if I simultaneously feel like I have left something undone.

#17 Track steps, water intake, monthly(ish) cycles

I’ll be coming back to this, but here is the big big takeaway: after a month or two of having a respite from the brain fog, it came back with abandon the other day and scared the living daylights out of me.

The truth is, because I was feeling so normal, I started getting lax about tracking things like how much water I’d been drinking, which naturally means I was drinking less water (because everything can be a competition if I do it right). I stopped paying attention to my bedtime.

These little things have an outsized influence on how I perceive how things are going–whether or not they have an influence on the brain fog. Tracking them is actually the key to keeping on top of them…tracking them is my impetus to actually do them.

So, feeling good is not a reason to stop doing the important little tiny things. Lesson learned.

#22 Learn Something Interesting about Psychology

This week, it was something I heard as a random aside in my favorite podcast, My Brother, My Brother and Me, an episode I have listened to probably a half-dozen times before.

They were riffing about what to say if someone had a really ugly baby (let’s admit it. That’s always awkward. Babies are not inherently cute), and Justin mentioned something called “reaction formation”, which, for some unknown reason, really intrigued me this time around.

We’ve all done it–or at least, the neurotic among us have done it. We try to figure out what the right thing to say is in some situation, and end up spontaneously saying exactly the opposite of what we really think. Not because we want to lie to the person we are talking to, but (I’m theorizing, here) because we don’t trust ourselves enough, or don’t trust the person we are in conversation with enough, to tell them the truth.

So reaction formation is a defense mechanism, in the “methinks the the lady dost protest too much” kind of way.

Reading about reaction formation rang so many bells in my little pea brain. I do this. And it is part of what has always caused me to say “yes” when I really want to say “no.” Or, oddly enough, to say “no” when I really really really want to say yes. Reaction formation is what causes us to ignore our own desires, wants, preferences, energy levels…and turns us into people pleasers.

As I dig into this topic, I find it is dovetailing neatly with a book I am reading right now on another fascinating psychological subject. The two are coming together to elucidate some unwanted thoughts and behaviors I have struggled with for my entire life.

Not that having a name for the concept has helped me solve the problem. But what it is has done is made me aware. Not that I am looking forward to the next time I say “no” when I mean to say “yes”, but maybe I’ll be able to catch myself in time and correct the trajectory.


This week on the podcast, my indulgent husband came to the studio to talk philosophy with me. Not to mention, my partner in crime, LiElla Kelly, talks about curiosity so the Philosopher Princess doesn’t have to.

Episode 31: Mental Health Sing With Your Feet

Talking Points: Rage; Sublimation; Mental Hygiene. Episode 31: Mental Health is part of our series on the Ideal Life Categories. The series began back in Episode 15: The One About Our Bodies, in case you want to get caught up. Links: The Great Bathrobe Refashion: https://lilyfieldschallenge.com/2021/05/18/the-great-2021-bathrobe-refashion/ Rage Refashioning: https://lilyfieldschallenge.com/2021/05/27/rage-refashioning/ Sublimation: https://lilyfieldschallenge.com/2021/06/09/sublimation/ You can contact Lily by email: lily@lilyfieldschallenge.com. A great big thank you to Seven Productions here in Mulhouse, France for the use of the song "La Joie" as the intro and outtro to the show. Thanks also to Matt Kugler who sang it and Claude Ekwe who wrote it.
  1. Episode 31: Mental Health
  2. Episode 30: Contentment
  3. Episode 29: Commitments
  4. Episode 28: Lucidly Ever After
  5. Episode 27: Passionately Curious

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

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