In grad school, one of my close friends and I always joked that we go big or go home. Mine, unfortunately, pertained primarily to my work and school life. I never wanted to just complete a project – I wanted to make it stellar. When I commit to something, it’s 110%. This attitude also pertains to the random self-improvement kicks I get on, like the happiness project.
At just over the halfway point of August, I have to admit I haven’t been sticking to my goals as much as I’ve wanted. Out of the three books I wanted to read, I’m only halfway through one of them and one chapter into another. My room is essentially the same as it was on August 1. I’m still listening to NPR to get my fill for what’s going on in the world, and I’m hitting the gym regularly while trying to cut back on soda. About the only thing I’ve been able to accomplish is joining an organization (more on that later).
But you know what? That’s okay.
When I met with my mentor the other week (where did last week go?!), she was asking how things were going and what I’ve been up to. So often I said “Well, I’m not (reading, exercising, you fill in the blank) as much as I should.” After while she just looked at me and said, “Stop saying should. Even if you feel like you should do it all, which you don’t have to, there’s no reason to get down on yourself about it.”
The thing is, I’m really good (or bad, depending on how you look at it) with guilt. I feel guilty not making it to the gym, feel guilty when I don’t read as much as I should or progress in my happiness project goals as I feel like I should. But I don’t like that contrast. Am I going to be happy if I accomplish my happiness project goals and mostly just feel disappointed or guilty if I don’t? That doesn’t seem healthy or fair.
I think at some point during this happiness project I need to learn to cut myself some slack. Actually, last night a revelation almost hit me out of nowhere. With things like the happiness project or work or school, I go big or go home. That doesn’t always have to be the case. I don’t have to overhaul my life to be happy/well-rounded/etc. Instead I just need to look at what’s working in my life and what isn’t, and then make minor changes to find more balance. There are a lot of things I’m doing in my life that do make me happy, regardless of whether it’s on my plan or to-do list. And if there’s something I’m not accomplishing, then why is that. If I haven’t progressed on those books, why is that? Do I not have enough time? What are my priorities? Are there things I could shift or alter in my life/schedule/day to get more reading done?
Basically I want to figure out what’s working in my life, and what’s not. Like most things, it’s easier said than done, but since it likely requires making a list, you know I’m on board! We’ll see how this goes…