When I have a lot of energy, it’s easy to do good things for my consulting clients or on my personal projects. This energizes me further, and so on. This is a good cycle.
When I’m feeling blah, or when I don’t feel like I’m accomplishing interesting things, I tend to feel even more blah – even if I know that the difficulties are temporary, local, and impersonal.
I realized that my feelings about my days tend to be influenced by whether I made progress. This makes sense; there’s even a book about it.
While it’s useful to be motivated by progress, I wonder if I can tweak my mind to get better at enjoying life even when it feels cyclic and mundane. Instead of noting just the new, non-routine tasks of the day, I could reflect on whether I’m getting better at routine stuff like self-care – to enjoy being, not just doing.
I find it a little difficult to relax into this mindset, though. Part of me is pulled towards the satisfaction of making progress, and I find myself wishing I could be better at that. I could improve my skills. I could make things better at home. I could be more energetic. I could cover more ground.
But then again, maybe the outcomes of this hypothetical self and my current self are not that different. Sure, it would be nice to make all the progress a hypothetical me could make. But whatever’s important can be handled by other people, and whatever’s not important isn’t worth stressing out over. Besides, this path can also be interesting.
So, back to this curious thought. What’s beyond getting things done? I’m learning things that are hard to check off a list: how to forget annoyances and frustrations, how to enjoy ripe fruits and sunshine, how to listen to the moment and the silence. How to embrace squirrel-brain, fuzzy-brain, and foggy-brain, and how to gently fan a spark of interest.
It will be worth it, I think, learning how to sit still. “Don’t just do something, sit there!”, as the flipped phrase go.
When the check-things-off part of myself gets antsy, I code or read for an hour or so. Once it’s satisfied, I explore things with payoffs that are less straightforward.
Another thing I used to be antsier about: The thought “Will I ask good-enough questions? Will I think good-enough thoughts?” intrudes less and less these days. I trust that when I sit down to draw, I’ll notice something I want to explore; and if not, it might be a good time for a walk.
It might be interesting to decide, even if it’s temporary and on faith, that this is the best thing I can do with my time.
On a larger scale, I might even become comfortable with this as the general flavour of my experiment. In the beginning, I identified “5 years and nothing to show for it, not even a good story” as one of my potential issues in my experiment pre-mortem. I feel myself starting to let go of the need for a neat story.
Getting things done is good. There are also other things that are good. I wonder what it’s like to live an awesome life, or better yet: live a life awesomely.