I wrote in my journal last night before bed as is often my practice. I think best sometimes while writing. Writing makes me tussle with ideas, introspection, and decisions. It’s my process. I wrote about how I currently approach my days.
I no longer keep detailed lists of goals and associated tasks. That way of living feels like living by checklist and that’s not appealing to me. It feels excessively regimented and confining. I know it might work for some. Throughout my life I have made attempts at such detailed life planning. However now it feels extremely rooted in a productivity mindset culture and that’s not how I want to experience the world any longer. Been there. Done that. Done that a lot. No thanks.
I do capture important information such as dates, ideas, commitments, resources, writing snippets, and so on, but living by a predetermined to do or goal list tends to steal a lot of joy from the day for me and I don’t want to arrive upon my deathbed (hopefully many years from now) thinking back that I should have lived life day-to-day more on my own terms, not at the beck and call of productivity or externally motivated accomplishment.
As often as possible I try to foster for myself what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi refers to as “flow,” described in Wikipedia as a “mental state in which a person performing some activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by the complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting transformation in one’s sense of time.”
That’s a tall order to replicate throughout a day. I know that. Flow can arrive in fits and starts, but it works for me as a motivating ideal to navigate through life.
Anyway, I wrote this last night and it describes my process. I typically write in my journal as though I’m talking to myself or a friend.
Reevaluate your life every day.
Morning and night seem to be good times for me. Sit quietly with yourself and ponder what you did and did not do skillfully today. Ask…
- What did you do that can be improved?
- Does your life path of yesterday feel appropriate today because your path is yours to follow and change?
- Are you happy with your surroundings, friends, intimates?
- Who have you met you want to get to know better?
- Are your finances, possessions, and commitments in order?
- Are you the person you want to be?
Ask the tough questions.
These check-ins with myself can be brief. Perhaps only seconds or minutes. If things went well today, I might just decide to have another similar tomorrow and leave it at that. If not, I adjust my perspective accordingly.
I reevaluate every day because the person I am and the situation I find myself in change over time, sometimes quickly and drastically. I might read something that sparks deep introspection. I might discover a new interest or cause. I might encounter new people who inspire me. Fate may have dealt me a blow or bestowed upon me extremely good luck.
Change is the only constant.
I believe a life that unfolds well is a life that changes us as we move through it, hopefully for the better. Adapting to those changes is how we hone and craft our life to suit us best.
So, at the least continue to commit to sitting quietly mornings when I awake and evenings before bed. Wrestle with the life of today and how to make it better tomorrow, and how to be a better person. Ultimately being the person I want to be is the greatest accomplishment anyone can achieve.
Finally, be kind to yourself. Recognition of your shortcomings and failures is your superpower if you possess the character to use those insights to make a better you and a better life.