I am a big goal setter. We’ve spent the better part of thirty years crossing large goals off the list. Earn my degree. Visit New Orleans. Plan cross-country trip with my kids. Create a magical wedding. Buy our dream house. Each of these goals included layers of planning, orchestration, and implementation. Spreadsheets, color-coded keys, and planning grids have helped to make these dreams a reality.
For now, I’ve neglected the big sweeping goals in favor of some smaller, less complicated goals. Instead of setting goals to go and do, or make something happen, I’m focusing on micro-goals that help me focus my energy and streamline my attention. At this moment in my life, I don’t have many mountains to climb, but I do have some adjustments I want to make.
I want to live more intentionally. To identify the things that matter most in my life and protect and nurture those things. Growing good habits, challenging negative patterns, and creating space for things I love all require time and attention. Actually, for me, it has required that I begin with just remembering what matters to me. I spent so many years allowing my schedule to control my days. I focused my attention on the thing that was in flames. This running from fire to fire left me depleted and worn.
It has been a long time since I’ve had room to think about how to spend downtime, what I might add to my life to give it more depth and meaning. I long to have inspiration, creativity, and vitality flowing out of my life rather than just the fear that comes from watching spinning plates fall to the ground. I’ve had to recalibrate my internal settings to adjust to this new, simpler way of being.
Rather than identifying the next big thing, I’m paying attention to small things. Setting intentions for my month, week, day, or even hours. Rather than adding more things to the to-do list, this is helping me focus my energy and action on a few important things. For instance, in September I focused my attention on nurturing health in my life. I thought about the things that undergird my health, like nutrition, exercise, and rest. As I planned my weeks and days, I wondered if the activities I was including were building health or depleting it.
- Lunch out with a friend can be nurturing, but too many in a row can leave me depleted.
- Making sure I have a healthy plan for meals allows us to protect good nutrition.
- Giving myself over to things I love but also making sure I schedule in downtime.
This week, I have several things on my calendar that have required significant juggling to ensure I can pull them off. A gathering of friends, a meal for the kids, and a planning meeting have all aligned in just a few days. Keith and I have chunked out time to make sure all of the necessary preparations are made, but we’ve also promised to make time to reconnect and rest. I’m practicing this new rhythm of moving out into the fray and back into the quiet.
Instead of trying to re-create my life in one fell swoop, I’m focusing on small changes to accommodate new spaces, new rhythms, and new attention to the details. This week, I’ll look for one small thing I can do to incorporate healthy habits. Instead of signing up for a gym membership, I will just take a walk once or maybe twice. Most of my life, this would have seemed insignificant, not big enough to make a difference. I tend to be a “go big or go home” kinda girl. I wonder if that hasn’t been some of the problem for me. I always want to do the big thing, but not the smaller, incremental steps that could actually prepare me for the change I long for.
As I move into October, I am thinking about how to find a rhythm that works for me. Not the elusive “balance” that I’ve been chasing for years, but a new ebb and flow that calls me out into the fray and then back to the calm to rest and refuel. I’ll be traveling at the end of the month, family celebrations, as well as work, lay ahead. I am wondering about what I can do now so that I can be as whole and healthy as possible? What will I need to build into my routines when I return?
This is a new way of thinking about my life and my schedule. It’s a new way of focusing my energy for change. It feels kind and gentle. These are not words I would have used to describe my planning process in the past. I have been ruthless with myself and others in my determination to meet goals. Setting small goals and really thinking about the way I want to be in my life are new to my way of being, but I like the way they feel in my days. I think I’ll see how this works.