Before we get started, I want to wish you a happy New Year! 2017! What? I know it’s a mark of aging to mention this, but doesn’t it seem that the turn of the millennium was just a few years ago? We threw a HUGE party at a friend’s warehouse loft in Boston in an area that has now (I’ve heard) become gentrified but at that time you just hoped your car was still on the street when you came back out at the end of the night. Even if it was a piece of crap. (Which it was.) So, if it seems to me that New Year 2000 was just a short while ago, it should come as no surprise to you that my happy New Year post is 3 weeks and a bunch of days late.
Okay—a new year! I know the turning of one year into the next is the traditional time for setting resolutions. And it’s not that I’m not too cool for that, but I have instead been using the new year as a time for reflection. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to manage the situation I often find myself in when the plethora (yes PLETHORA) of project ideas I possess far outweigh the time I have available to accomplish them. I started bullet journaling (really fun, but a whole other project in and of itself, so NO). Then I went to Michael’s with a 50%-off-a-regular-purchase coupon and I bought a nice, tidy little planner. Then I sharpened a pencil and filled in the daily sections I have cordoned off as “PRODUCTION SCHEDULE.” So, here were my plans set out from January through March: write novella for marketing promotion, implement marketing program I have been studying, retool website, build and launch a homeschool blog with unit studies to sell and write a giveaway eBook, keep working on current novel-in-progress. Also, sleep now and then. Go to the bathroom at least once a day. Raise/homeschool my children. And feed them. I got that planner filled in aaaaaaaall nice and tidy! Woo-hoo! I’m so organized! I thought. This will be a soooooooo easy to accomplish! I thought.
Then I immediately began to fall behind because I am just one person, people, and as it turns out, I need to use the bathroom more than once a day. (I know—slacker.) So, then I started to think about setting reasonable goals which led me to think about what the heck is a reasonable goal? And then I started to explore my unhealthy relationship with productivity.
Here’s how my unhealthy relationship with productivity goes:
step 1) I feel like I MUST get as much accomplished every day as possible;
step 2) I set completely unattainable daily goals and can’t meet them;
step 3) I attempt to play catch-up from all the previous days I failed to meet the completely unattainable daily goals;
step 4) I immediately feel like I am falling short;
step 5) the sliding scale of mild to acute panic about not getting the work done sets in.
Okay! Problem identified. Only here’s where I got stalled out. I’d figured out that my unhealthy relationship with productively was my problem, but this weird thing was happening—identifying my nemesis was not making me feel better and no solution to my problem was materializing. Then suddenly—while practicing yoga, of course—I figured it out. And here follows my truth; an admission that pinches—HARD.
The root of my uneasiness and anxiety is a need for external validation.
I believed I didn’t care about that!
(Of course saying you don’t and wishing you don’t is not the same as actually not caring.)
It’s not about the unreasonable goal-setting. Or the unhealthy relationship with productivity. It’s about the attachment to to the outcome of the productivity.
Okay, so my work has been identified. Stop caring if I’m ever Barbara Kingsolver or Anne Tyler level successful. Stop thinking about people I know—or don’t—evaluating my career. And, hey, while I’m at it, I’ll try a little more self-compassion and kindness and a little less self-judgment... I'd bet I’m probably meaner to myself than anyone else I know—or don’t.
(This is so embarrassing ... )
Commitments to myself.
Okay, so we discover things we dislike about ourselves and we move forward. My sister and some close friends (who share similar neuroses... or challenges... however best to phrase it) have formed a commitment circle. First we thought periodic group text check-ins would be enough but then we decided monthly meet-ups for live loving check-ins would be much better. We had our first meeting last Friday night. It is incredibly helpful to share your goals and challenges and have trusted friends help you clarify your junk. So for 2017, no resolutions, no insane goal-setting, no unhealthy relationship with productivity and no striving for external validation. Just do the work of my heart. For me, that is taking care of my family, homeschooling my children, writing what speaks to me at the rate that I am able. Also using the bathroom with no self or time-imposed restrictions.
In other words, do the things that makes the most sense to fulfill the really good goals of happiness, joy and sanity. Which leads me to ...
(“Big” might be a strong word. Also “news.”)
I am changing my blog post day to Saturday! And maybe you’ll only see me checking in once or twice a month. Because this is what makes the most sense for me right now in this attempt at an authentic and balanced life that I am living.
Happy weekend to you! And here’s to a happy and productive (but not unhealthfully so) 2017!
Find my novels, THE MOSQUITO HOURS and TALKING UNDERWATER, online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. And don’t forget your local independent bookstore! I’m curious about something: would you like to stay up-to-date on news about my books as well as have my latest blog posts conveniently delivered to your inbox? Then subscribe to my newsletter! Click on that little box right over there on the right. See how easy I made that for you? (You’re welcome.)