CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I don't talk to myself as much as I used to. Maybe it's because I've pretty much heard all my stories. Or maybe I hate how I'm always interrupting myself or screwing up punch lines or not telling it right.
But I've learned that once in a while, I should let myself talk. And insist that I listen.
I was several minutes into a conversation with one of my more tolerant friends when it occurred to me that I needed to hear what I was saying even more than my friend. Although the roots of our problems were different, we both get ourselves tangled time and again by the same kinds of knots. With her, it's finances and relationship issues. With me, it's that I burn the candle at both ends with the middle stretched over flames. I have too much stuff and too many commitments and the clock hands are spinning so fast they're kicking up sparks.
Yet we both continue doing the same things while wishing for different results.
"Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer, but wish we didn't," wrote Erica Jong, author of "Fear of Flying."
My friend's a smart woman. I suspect she already knows what she should do. Yet suggest changing this or stopping that and she'll rattle off a half-dozen reasons why it won't work. I've caught myself doing the same.
Since it's the season for scrubbing our slates so clean that they squeak, it seems a sensible time to spend some time coming up with a game plan to take on those things that need changed.
"Divide each difficulty into as many parts as is feasible and necessary to resolve it," wrote 17th-century French philosopher René Descartes.
Breaking down large projects into smaller, more doable, parts has been something I've always done with home repair issues and large writing assignments. Simplifying the complicated is sort of my thing, yet I don't recall ever trying to deal with my more mundane (yet extremely draining) difficulties in that fashion.