Last week, I read a post on Pink of Perfection that stuck with me: it was technically a recipe, but Sarah mentioned that she had recently made a list of things she does and does not care about. That post reminded me of something I read on Nicole’s blog recently, where she said “no one else is ever going to care about managing your energy as much as you do. It’s the same with your health – no one else is going to carve out time for you to exercise and cook healthy meals. It’s up to you to prioritize your time, which often means forcibly removing things from your schedule and saying no to things that don’t support your biggest goals. On the surface, it may seem selfish, but selfish isn’t always a bad thing. If you don’t take care of your own needs and goals, who will? Saying no to certain things in order to save energy & time for the things that really matter is all about being compassionately ruthless.”
I’ve know for awhile that there were things that I do that do not actively support my goals. See: Facebook. But for some reason, it seemed nearly impossible to just cut these things out. I am so easily able to talk myself out of making positive choices for a variety of reasons: it’s selfish, I “need” to do things a certain way or (most often) a fear of missing out and/or jealousy. As grad school looms and I take on freelance work while also trying to be a good teacher, girlfriend, daughter, friend, etc. I’ve decided that I need to figure out some priorities. Also, I know that I have a tendency to slip out of healthy habits when life gets intense, and I am trying to be vigilant against that occurring.
The idea of making a list made a lot of sense to me. So simple! A list of things that do really, really matter to me, and a list of things that don’t that still find their way into my schedule. And then? The ability to clearly focus on getting more of the “do care” list into my life, while letting go of the things that really don’t matter.
Making a do care list came easily:
- Andrew and my family are my number one priority, always.
- Pursuing my yoga practice and general exercise — running, when I’m healed.
- Eating local, organic food that is healthfully prepared (including starting a small container garden in our backyard!).
- My primary friendships matter to me — the friendships that add to my life and make me better.
- Being the best educator I can be.
- Blogging — quality content.
- My freelance work.
- Grad school will matter to me in just a few weeks :)
- Reading books matters to me — more than TV (see list below).
- Financial stability.
- Travel and/or experiences.
It all felt pretty simple. These are the things I’m willing to put energy towards: those I love, my yoga practice, good food, my jobs, this blog, reading, being financially stable and experiencing the world. Suddenly, it all felt so clear: if it’s not something that I want to put energy toward, why invest time and/or money?
The don’t list was hard. Mostly because the don’t list is full of easy stuff that I like in the moment, but dislike after I do it.
Things that made the don’t list:
- 85% of the TV I watch.
- Blogging every day. Currently, I’m planning to cut back to three days a week. I don’t have time to generate quality content right now, and there’s nothing worse than a reader clogged with posts that are sloppy. I’d rather write three good posts per week than five ho-hum ones. Right? Right.
- Friend/acquaintance events I attend because I feel like I “should.”
- People who make me feel badly about myself.
- Reading blogs/following people on Twitter because they’re “important” or because I like to keep up on the drama (oh stop, you do it too).
- Lots of my time on Facebook, barring client work.
- Indulging in tons of drinks/food that makes me feel bad.
- The day-to-day minutiae of gossip and drama.
- What people outside of my closest friends and family members think about my every decision. Enough with the worrying.
- Having tons of “stuff” that I think I want. Trying to shift from buying lots of crap to buying a few really good things. That’s hard, guys.
I don’t expect to adhere to this new list all the time. I’m not giving up TV totally (I will stop watching Pretty Little Liars and Parenthood when I’m dead, okay? NOT A MOMENT BEFORE!) but I am replacing my TV time with some reading. I’m saying no to a few happy hours to fit in an additional yoga class. I’m slowly clearing out excess stuff, and doing my best not to acquire more by unsubscribing to shopping emails and not buying. I’m budgeting and putting money away. I’m forcing time for healthy meals to be cooked.
As Nicole so wisely put it, I’m being ruthlessly compassionate with my life and time.
I’ve always lived in awe of people who live life the way they want to, without guilt. I think a lot of people pin those sentiments on Pinterest, but most people I know are saddled with bad feelings or jealousy or missing out. I was having a conversation with a friend recently who turned down plans because she wanted to go for a run. She didn’t apologize. She just did. And I got it: the only difference between them and myself is that they are actively advocating for their own life and time, and making it their own. I don’t want that difference to exist any more.
I don’t think we all have to believe that the same things matter, but honestly, this list? It made me re-evaluate everything from what blogs I read to whether or not I buy Starbucks each week. It’s powerful to look at what really, really matters. And better yet? It’s oddly freeing to release yourself from the things that really, really don’t.