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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Week 4 and 5 Check-in: Under the Weather

My new best friend lately.

My new best friend lately.

It’s been awhile since I have posted and with good reason – I have been sick with a cold for the last two weeks!  Despite still having a sore throat, I had a burst of energy tonight which is a sure sign that I’m on the mend.  That being said, there hasn’t been much progress with my weight loss efforts over the last couple of weeks.  (In fact, I think a few too many treats at my sister-in-law’s baby shower on the weekend, may have set me back just a bit!)

But that’s one thing I am trying to think about differently this time around with my weight loss efforts.  Just as life goes up and down, so will my weight and my ability to stay on plan.  I won’t be able to be 100% on the wagon at all times.  We all stumble along the way, we all cave in to temptations now and then, and no one is perfect.  As simple as it sounds, it is has taken me a long time to figure out that a few minor stumbles along the way doesn’t mean that my entire journey has failed and that I must “start over” to be successful.

Yum.

Yum.

In fact, it still amazes me how consumed with guilt I generally feel when I “fall off track”.  The other day, for instance, I didn’t feel completely terrible but I definitely had less-than-normal amounts of energy, a phlegm-y cough, and a bit of a sore throat.   I wanted more than anything to cuddle up on the couch with a fuzzy blanket and a bowl of chicken soup (which is what I ended up doing). But even though I was under the weather, I couldn’t help feeling guilty about missing my daily exercise.  I sat there for a significant part of the evening arguing with myself about whether I was just using my slight cold as an excuse even though in my heart I knew I should rest.  I worried that if I missed that day (after already having missed a few days before it), it would be the beginning of the end – I would fall off track and find myself right back where I started in the first place.

quoteI hate this guilt.  I hate worrying that one (or even a few) slip-ups will derail my entire plan.  So that’s why this time, I am trying to accept that these setbacks are not the end all, be all.  Instead of focussing on the lack of progress I have made over the last couple of weeks, I have decided to cut myself a break and to accept that life will naturally give us hiccups on whatever journey we are on (and besides, I was sick after all!)  I need to not be so hard on myself.  Instead of focussing on what I haven’t accomplished the last two weeks, I have to remember the steps I have taken in the right direction and keep my mind on where I am going.