Do What You Want, Not What You Should

I’m struggling today.  It’s the same old problem that I am faced with so often – the decision between doing what I think I should be doing versus doing what I actually want to do.

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It’s beautiful out today.  It’s warm and sunny with a perfectly cool breeze.  It’s the last unofficial weekend of summer and the weather is perfect.  I should be outside.  Summer is so short around here, I should be soaking it all up before the weather turns dark, gloomy, and cool.  I should be out in nature, enjoying a hike or visiting my friend who is camping for the weekend, because I know it will be good for my mind, body, and soul.

But instead, I’m curled up on the coach, unshowered, still in my pyjamas, and wrapped up in a fuzzy blanket.  Because I’m tired, and it’s cozy here, and I don’t feel like moving.  I slept in today too – until nearly 10:30.  Then I laid in bed for nearly another hour playing on my phone and just dwelling in the cool comfort of my bed and the wonderful company of my husband and our dog.

I did get up after that and make pancakes for the family.  I even tidied up the kitchen.  I had intentions to shower. I told my friend I would drive half an hour to see her at her campsite.  We’d go for a walk or maybe to the beach.  I could stop at the grocery store and stock up on the few things we need for lunches this week.  I could take something out of the freezer and plan dinner.  And lord knows, the bathroom needs to be cleaned, there’s laundry to do, lessons to be planned, the list goes on….

Haha, love this one!

Haha, love this one!

But I don’t feel like doing any of those things.  I don’t even feel like getting dressed.  I’m even seriously considering ordering pizza for dinner. The Jays game is on, my husband and dog are here with me, and I am comfy and content laying here on the couch – other than the bit of guilt that is eating away at me…

My husband has a theory.  Whenever I complain that I have so much to do, he tells me “You’re an adult.  You can do whatever you want.”  I usually counter back with, “Yes, but adults have responsibilities” as I continue working my way through my never-ending to-do list.  And it’s not that my husband neglects those responsibilities (although he is a procrastinator), it’s just that he understands and accepts the whole notion of having the freedom to do what he wants rather than what he should be doing.

At the beginning of this year, I claimed the mantra “good enough” for myself in the hopes that I’d learn to let things go and step away from being such a perfectionist in so many areas of my life.  But, despite my good intentions, somewhere along the way I have forgotten what it means to let things be just good enough.

Now that back-to-school is just around the corner (two days!), I’m clinging desperately to this notion of doing what I want instead of what I should because I know in just a few days time, the slow, lazy days of summer that I’ve enjoyed are going to come to a screeching halt and my life is going to become chaotic again.  There will be alarms to wake up to, busy mornings, jobs and school to get to, laundry to do, lunches and dinners to make, errands to run, lessons to plan, a house to clean, assignments to mark, practices and clubs to bring kids to…. You get the idea.

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For me, my personal time is so important.  I’m a bit of a day-dreamer, an over-thinker.  I like time to explore my personal interests and to find inspiration for new ideas.  I like a schedule that’s wide open so I can decide each day what I feel like doing (and not just what I have to do). I like time to write and read books for pleasure. This is what this summer has been all about and it’s been glorious.  It’s been wonderful, peaceful, and so fulfilling.

So maybe my resistance to wanting to do anything productive today is a desperate attempt to hang on to those days when I have nothing to do.  Or maybe I’m just finally starting to accept that I am an adult and I can do what I want.  Because there has to a balance in life.  And I am sure there will be many more days to do what I should.  So today I am going to let go of the guilt, do what I want (which involves a whole lot of nothing), and try my hardest to accept that it’s all good enough.  And I might order pizza for dinner.

Reflections

winterLast week, I wrote a post about my resolutions (or goals) for the New Year which included to be gentle with myself, to maintain balance, and to connect with family and friends (read more about my resolutions here).  Shortly after, I also adopted the mantra “good enough is good enough” as a means to be rid of my perfectionist view on life in general (read more about that here).

Well, it’s only been just a little over a week and already I am feeling positive effects from these three simple promises to myself.  Of course, one of the ways my life changed recently was by leaving my weekend job in order to have more time for my family, household responsibilities, and ultimately, myself.  Although we spent a night out of town at my son’s hockey tournament, I’ve found I still had time this weekend to get stuff done (something that was very difficult to do while working seven days a week!) I have to say this new “weekend freedom” has been absolutely wonderful. For instance, I spent the entire day today in my pyjamas hiding from the blizzard outside, drinking coffee, and slowly working away at plans for the upcoming week at school. While this certainly may not sound thrilling to some, is truly something that I find fulfilling and enjoyable and in my mind is one of the perfect ways to spend a lazy Sunday!

I’ve also been working really hard on taking things one day at a time and only worrying about what has to get done each day.  While some future planning is inevitable, I often plan so much in my head that I easily become overwhelmed and stressed out.  I am now starting to realize that all that tiresome planning and thinking doesn’t really serve a purpose (other than to exhaust me).  Things are much clearer and less stressful, if I can focus on just a few small things at a time.  Surprisingly, training my brain to focus only on each days’ tasks hasn’t been nearly as difficult as I had anticipated.  I’d often argued with my husband that all the planning ahead was just “how my brain works”, but suddenly it seems that I can control that thinking (at least to a certain degree).  It’s something that’s definitely a work in process but certainly worth my time.

The mantra “good enough is good enough” has helped me immensely in only thinking about each day’s tasks (and to be clear, I try to focus only on one or two tasks each day… not an exhaustive list, otherwise it’d be pointless!)  For example, I am slowly learning that something as simple as cleaning my house does not need to be an “all or nothing” job.  So today, after we had finally packed away the Christmas decorations, I simply passed the vacuum quickly, rearranged a few décor items, and said to myself “that’s good enough for today”.  Normally, I would have moved on to dusting, cleaning the bathroom, doing heaps of laundry, scrubbing floors, and purging closets which is not only exhausting to me but would make my family members miserable and resentful too.  So, in the end, my house may not be spotless from top to bottom, but it’s presentable enough, and best of all, my family’s had time to enjoy our day doing the things we love!winter peace

In addition to maintaining balance by reminding myself of the good enough mantra, I have also made strides on my resolution to connect with family and friends.  My husband and I decided that this year we’d go all out for birthdays.  Fortunately for my friend Jason, he was the first person I got to test this resolution out on since his birthday was this past week.  Since Jason lives so far away (as do many of my best friends), I couldn’t really go all out but I still wanted to think of something I could do to brighten my friend’s special day.  That being said, I knew if it wasn’t something easy, manageable, and inexpensive, I’d be less likely to follow through.  I started to think about what I could do and realized that over the last few years, I’ve completely dropped the ball on sending my friends’ something as simple as birthday cards!  I immediately set out and spent several minutes in the card shop picking out a card that I knew would make Jason smile.  Then, another idea came to me!  I am blessed to have so many wonderful memories with my friends, why not create a list of these special memories to send in the birthday card?  So that’s what I did.  It took me only a few minutes to write a letter to Jason full of meaningful and hilarious memories we’ve had over the years.  I was thrilled when he responded to tell me that the letter not only made him laugh, but nearly brought him to tears!  It amazes me how something to simple could have such an effect! I was so happy I made that connection with Jason on his birthday!

(As a side note, now that I’ve conquered the first birthday, I am thrilled that  we get to go all out for birthdays two more times this month!  Next week, we’ve planned a terrific party for my stepson Brandon who is turning 12… stay tuned for an update, we’re really going all out for his birthday… and my younger brother’s birthday is also at the end of the month… still working on ideas on how to make his big day extra special!)

I know it’s only been a little over a week so already celebrating my New Year’s resolutions as successes may be premature.  But the fact that 2016 has started off with a lot less stress, crying, agonizing, and worrying, is definitely a step in the right direction…. and the fact that I found enough time to write three blog entries in just over a week?   Well that in itself makes me one very happy girl 🙂

xo,

K.

Good Enough

good enough 3As I reflect on my New Year’s resolutions and think about some of the reading I have been doing lately, I am liking more and more the idea of good enough being better than perfect.  I am thinking that good enough is going to help me in letting go of my “all or nothing”, perfectionist attitude.  Furthermore, I’m starting to realize that the notion of good enough is really going to help me in my efforts to be gentle with myself and in maintaining balance, two of my main resolutions for 2016.

One of the ways I’ve been adopting the good enough strategy in the last couple of days, for instance, is to simply focus on one or two tasks per day.  Typically, I am a hyper-organized person, constantly making to-do lists and planning the next minute, hour, day, week, month of my life.  This weekend I allowed myself to let go by focussing on one (or two) tasks I wanted to complete that day (in order of priority.  Yesterday, getting a manicure was at the top of my list (good-bye holiday nails, hello fresh mani!) and today was all about preparing for back to school (tomorrow!  yikes!)  My husband strongly encourages this one task at a time mentality and I have to admit it did alleviate a lot of my usual stress. In fact, just a few days ago (before I adopted the good enough idea), I was already running a mental to-do list through my mind of all the things I “needed” to complete this weekend:  take down and pack away Christmas decorations, clean the house top to bottom (not a small feat), stock up on groceries, meal plan for the week, prepare for back-to-school, prepare an appetizer for a party Saturday night, attend party Saturday night, watch my son play hockey, and then of course, make time for myself (reading, blogging, social media, maybe a walk…)the list goes on…

Just thinking about that list is utterly exhausting.  But that’s how my brain has been trained to think.  It takes conscientious effort for me to be gentle with myself and to accept good enough.  But with my husband’s support, I was able to focus on just a few simple priorities and I have to admit, I felt a lot more relaxed.

Sure, I didn’t clean my house top to bottom (for some reason, I’ve always thought house cleaning tasks all have to be done at the same time, so time consuming!) but I did sweep the floors which took care of the biggest problem (dog hair!) and I did wash some dishes and run the dishwasher.  I also re-organized our winter recycling system and completed a load of laundry.  Considering we normally keep a fairly tidy house, this small tasks were easy to complete and were good enough.  After all, my house and it’s messes (or lack thereof) aren’t going anywhere, right? 

I also didn’t get time to take down my Christmas decorations, but so what?  More time to enjoy our beautiful tree!  When it came time to prepare an appetizer for a party I was attending, I remembered to be gentle with myself and opted to buy a pre-made (yet delicious!) cake which took off the pressure of having to find the time to make something.

Another aspect of my life in which I think it will benefit me to apply the good enough approach is in my efforts to improve my physical health.  As I mentioned in a previous post, in the past my diet and fitness efforts were definitely all or nothing.  This year, I’m trying a new approach based on the notion of good enough.  Sure, I may still be eating white bread and using creamer in my coffee with way too much sugar content, but today when I couldn’t find anything for lunch, rather than running out to grab takeout, I made a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up some soup and crackers.  As I mulled over what to make for dinner, I realized our vegetable intake lately has been really bad, so I opted for making a chicken stir-fry (even though pasta sounded so much more tempting). And while I didn’t fit a walk in this weekend, or lift any weights, or do any yoga, I know that this is only the beginning of the year and I’ve got lots of time to fit those things into my schedule, when they fit.

good enough 2Now that I’ve felt the benefits of good enough I know it’s a strategy that will help me to meet some of my resolutions – to take pressure off myself, to be gentle with myself, and to find balance.  And even though I am tempted to write more, I know that for now this post is good enough.

xo

K.