A good day has three things

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I often think about how people accomplish in varying degrees in life. Some people accomplish a ridiculous amount in a short 35 years of living. They are influential, have great ideas, possess wisdom, read people well, lead people who lead other people... Then there are others who have lived the same 35 years, but because of different circumstances, different upbringing, different experiences, different priorities, different choices they are still figuring out basics like paying bills, how to act appropriately in an awkward situation, just realizing that they should move onto the next stage of life where his mother isn’t doing his laundry.

I am in the middle there somewhere. I’m not an overachiever. I am mostly happy where I am in life. I am happy that I have a great husband, a happy, healthy daughter, nice living space, a wonderful family, a job where I feel fulfilled everyday surrounded by wonderful co-workers... Life isn’t perfect, and of course, it isn’t always easy, but I’d like to say that I am doing alright.

However, I know that there are spaces in my life that remain stagnant. Stupid stuff like the pile of magazines that sit on my dining room table that I intend on tossing. Nagging stuff like getting exercise into my weekly routine. I know that I drag my heels on so many things that probably won’t even take me that much time. Sure, those things might have semi-importance, but things that make me even more disappointed is stuff like I want to get a gift for my pregnant neighbour and it’s been in my head for at least two weeks... I could be making a friendship, but it’s still in a theoretical state.

So, I’ve been thinking how do I get out of this? I know that I am better than I ever used to be, but frankly, I am just slow. I also like thinking ahead - trying to see as far as possible based on what I know now. If I draw a straight line between today and the 15 years from now that I want to arrive at, what do I have to do?

Well, that straight line is made up of 5,475 days. What choices can I make over and over again that help me get as far down the road when I arrive at day 5,476?

I think that I can include three things in every day to start with:

1) Organize what I am going to do today. The best thing my former boss ever told me to do when I couldn’t get my act straight at work, he told me to make one to-do list. I used to keep notes on post-it notes all over my desk, computer screen, and corkboard, to remind me what I had to do. It only just made a visual reminder of how screwed I was. How everyday I came to work and I was increasingly drowning in my tasks. Once I organized all of these same notes to myself on one sheet of paper, my stress went right down, my focus narrowed in, and I started plowing through stuff.

2) Get stuff done on the list. Sure, that seems obvious, but there are days that make a wonderful list that I intend on doing, but I get so distracted that I don’t get a single thing done. Some times there are great reasons - other times, it’s just a waste of time.

3) Learn something today. Life isn’t just about accomplishing tasks, that with each task you move forward. Life is about growing; expanding our knowledge, our worldview, our capacities for love, and there are many areas that we can be growing. Every day we should be feeding ourselves by spending time with books, with websites, or with friends. There are many ways we can be growing.

A good life is full of good days. Every day is full of habits. If each day is full of good habits, how can I not make the most of my life? I don’t intend for the above to be the magic formula to the perfect life, since life is full of things that we cannot control but I am writing about the things that I can control, and I know that this is definitely something that I can take into my hands and do.

1 comment:

  1. This blog echoes this quote:

    "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."

    - Anne Dillard

    So simple and so profound.


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