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Much Ado About Romance

Much Ado About Romance

It’s the most timeless thing in the history of time: romance. Cupid’s arrows have been flying about since before Christ was born and they are still going strong. They strike down hundreds of thousands of unassuming folks every single day. Then follows the age-old duet of endless phone calls, intimate dates, blooming flowers, and sparkling gifts. If your eyes aren’t glazed over already, here is a little statistic: Valentine’s Day spending in US alone is about $20 Billion. That’s one day in one country, folks (if you are reading this post and didn’t get a gift on Valentine’s Day, now is the time to breathe, just breathe — killing him is not the solution!).

We are obsessed, aren’t we? Shakespeare wrote some 40 plays and 150 sonnets and all we can really remember about the poor guy is “Romeo and Juliet” — suicide in love. Just doesn’t get more romantic than that. Every culture has its own versions of romance that are full of grand gestures — wars fought and monuments built and every little detail documented in ballads and books. Today, it translates into the customary chocolates and jewelry (to all the men complaining about that, had it been the 17th century, you would have to commit suicide to prove your love).

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Interrupting the trance of romance

For one moment though, I’ll request that Cupid take a (well-deserved) rest while I ask a little question: what does romance stand for?

We spend years waiting for that one prolonged look, for that perfect candlelit dinner, for that obscenely huge bouquet and that dazzling faultless solitaire. What does it mean? The longer the look, the truer the love?

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We spend months planning the most romantic wedding. That wedding dress should make Vera Wang tear up and that first dance should make William and Kate look clumsy like Mr. and Mrs. Shrek. What does it mean? The more romantic the wedding, the longer the marriage?

For all these years, have we been using romance as the proxy for love? More importantly, is it?

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If he loves to hold your hand, is he a keeper? What if the guy takes care of you in a dependable sort of way but suffers from sweaty palms? Would you rather have a big bouquet of roses or would you rather he gets laundry done while you are having a difficult day at work (I know you want to say both, but then even your guy wants a cross between Angelina Jolie and Martha Stewart — all the best with that!)?

Romance is just that — romance

It’s exciting and it’s fun but it is not Love. In fact, a lot of times, there is no correlation between the two. You could have a lot of romance — a lot of flowers, a lot of dates, a lot of chocolates — and the very next day a little fight can end in a breakup because your partner can give you flowers but they cannot give up their ego. All the same, if they never ever get you those flowers but keep calm while you are having a “nobody mess with me” day, what you miss are some roses, but what you get is understanding — that’s a pretty good deal.

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There can be love without romance and it can last you a lifetime, but the other way around doesn’t work. It cannot last. Sure, things can get boring, but all that’s needed is for you to drag your partner out of bed and throw a tantrum about wanting to go eat at that new place. The best part is that when you do go eat at that new place, you don’t get judged for spilling food all over your clothes despite the napkin around your neck. The romantic fellow with the jewelry is going to sit there getting embarrassed; that boring dependable guy will help you clean up (after adequate laughter of course — no one is an angel here).

I guess it’s time we let cute little Cupid grow up a bit. For those of us who have seen our parents together for 30 years, we know it’s not about romance. In fact, if your dad got your mum flowers, she would probably rush him to the doctor. Not to mention your dad cannot distinguish a rose from a cactus, so it’s a stretch anyway.

It’s about just hanging around and being there in a consistent (though sometimes reluctant) way. That’s pretty much love served up in all its glory. It’s not about Romeo and Juliet dying for love. It’s about Romeo and Juliet surviving each other for love, all sprinkled with a few moments of joy (when no one has to do laundry).

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Last Updated on April 8, 2019

22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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  1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
  2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
  3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
  4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
  5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
  6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
  7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
  8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
  9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
  10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
  11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
  12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
  13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
  14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
  15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
  16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
  17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
  18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
  19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
  20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
  21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
  22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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