As I implemented the holistic planning process earlier in the year, the first step was defining the whole I was trying to manage. I continue to feel challenged as I remember to include my needs in the whole. My default has always been to work harder in pursuit of goals, but now I recognize the wisdom of working smarter instead.
Last week I read a post titled ‘Do You Like the Person You are Becoming?’ by one of my favorite minimalists, Joshua Becker. His piece doesn’t focus on needs, but on how we feel about who we are in the context of our lives and projects.
Something about his language cut right to the heart of my struggle to hold my own hand as I go forward into the future.
I feel a lot of movement right now. The season is part of it, with its new growth and hope. Pandemic limitations are relaxing and human affairs flow more “normally.” Personally, I’ve had some new opportunities, some of which I engaged with and some of which I didn’t. I’m involved with an exciting new creative project (more about that later).
At the same time, balance is hard. I squeeze the last minute out of every hour and berate myself when I feel unproductive. The gardens and yard cry out to me, but I haven’t spent more than an hour playing with them. If I work hard creatively all day, I feel too drained to exercise. If I exercise and choose to be more active, I’m unhappy with my creative progress.
Now, more than ever before, I simply can’t do it all.
I don’t want to do it all.
Doing it all is overrated.
So, I have to make choices, practice saying no, maintain boundaries, and stay balanced and centered.
It sounds so neat and easy. So mature and together!
Becker’s piece made me smile, and then laugh out loud. (I miss laughing out loud. LOL is not laughing out loud.)
He asks such a simple, and at the same time, deep, question: Do I like who I’m becoming?
Like all really good questions, an honest answer is complicated, because our experience of ourselves is often different in different arenas of our lives.
It reminds me of another question I frequently see as I practice minimalism: Does this choice make my life easier or harder?
Of course, needs, structure and choice underlie both questions, but I like the way they leave the mechanics aside and focus on feelings.
Do I like me? Are my choices making my life easier or harder?
I almost made a choice last week that would have made my life harder, but it also would have increased my income.
Naturally, I thought first about income. Security, stability, savings. Sure, it would mean less time and energy for other things, but – you know, more money!
Except not that much more. And there was no denying it would take away from my writing.
And the writing, unpaid as it is at this point, is what makes me happy, the reason I’m in the world, the center of my life and experience.
Money can’t compete.
Chasing money has made me a fearful people pleaser, perfectionistic, compulsive, depressed, and anxious.
Writing has made me confident, authentic, joyful and playful.
Which woman do I like better? Whom do I want to live with and see in the mirror?
The fact is I could meet all my needs and still not like myself. I could have chosen to make more money, but I would have liked myself less.
Learning to love myself has been an incredible journey, one that saved my life.
I have no intention of going backwards.
Another tenet of minimalism is understanding the feeling we don’t have enough space and time doesn’t mean we need more space and time. It means we need less stuff and fewer things to do. We need to find a way to make our lives easier, not harder.
We need to love ourselves enough to create a meaningful, joyful life with plenty of space and time.
Maybe, as I begin my day, the question is not what I want and need to accomplish, but what choices will make me like myself better than I did the day before.
Can it be done? Is it possible to lead a balanced, vibrant life, full of texture and joy, keep an adequate roof over my head, and create a more secure future while doing the work I love, all while loving the person I am?
(I finally know what I want to be when I grow up! Not only what I want to do, but who I want to be!)
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