I don’t believe in resolutions. I do believe in continuously setting goals for yourself. Having something to work towards, whether professionally, mentally, or physically, can offer you focus and direction when life seems chaotic. As I approach my 24th birthday, I’ve decided that there is something I really need to work on before I hit the big 2-5.
If I’m being kind, I would label myself as organized. If I’m being honest, I am a neurotic freak.
There is a point at which planning becomes counter-productive, and I passed that point a very long time ago. I am constantly trying to plan every single aspect of my life. Meals, workouts, social events, errands… the specific order I’ll do all of these things every single day. When I go to the grocery store, I separate my lists into ‘Fruits/veggies, Meat, Dariy, and Other’ so I can plan the quickest route through the grocery store. I plan exactly what I’ll do, in precise chronology, when I get home from work (ex: feed Loki, prep dinner, take shower, pack a gym bag, cook dinner, call mom, clean room, wash face/brush teeth/bed). If you’re thinking, “Hey you sound crazy”… yeah, I know.
While this tendency makes me the most productive and efficient worker at every job I have, there are two major drawbacks to living this way in every aspect of your life.
One is that I can’t even calculate how much time I waste trying to save time. My intentions are pure. I figure, “If I plan the most efficient way of doing everything, I’ll save more time!” But I’m always chasing that “efficiency”, and not enjoying any of the time I “save”. For instance, if I finish up my To-Do List for a Tuesday night thanks to my wonderfully efficient planning, I won’t use that time I saved to relax or do something enjoyable. I’ll get a jump-start on making Wednesday more efficient. And if I manage it, on Wednesday I’ll try to make Thursday more efficient… and so on. It never ends. I feel pressure to always be doing something, and guilty when I’m not doing anything or if I fail to complete my list. The worst part is this pressure or guilt is based on nothing, comes from nowhere but myself.
Two is whether my plans go perfectly OR fall to pieces, I still lose. I could plan a Saturday as follows:
- 10am Spin Class
- shower and breakfast (protein shake and omelet)
- 12:30pm nail appointment
- Grocery shopping
- Lunch: panera
- 3pm visit grandparents
- CVS and Target
- Lunch and movies with friends
The day could go EXACTLY to plan, but I wasn’t mentally present for any of it. In everything I was doing, I was worried about making it to the next thing in good time. That’s no way to enjoy life. And heaven forbid my nail appointment runs long, or there is a long line at the grocery store, or traffic on the way to my grandparents, and I don’t do everything on the list. I feel like I somehow “failed” the day. I recognize how stupid that is, and yet I can’t help it.
How am I going to fix this?
My goal for the age of 24 is to really focus on being mentally present in my life. See and enjoy the things in front of me, and accept that sometimes it’s okay to do nothing. Step 1 will be to be throwing away my lists and planners, and stop making such strict timetables. I’m allowed a very GENERAL To Do list of stuff I’d like to do. But I can’t plan the times, or order of events, or anything. If all of it happens, great. If not, who cares? Let the day unfold as it will, and focus being mindful of what I am currently doing.
That’s going to be pretty difficult for me, but I have to try! Feel free to share any tips and tricks to improving mindfulness below.