Doesn’t it seem as though there are a million things one is supposed to do? I’m supposed to volunteer, have interesting hobbies, work, be cultured, go to the gym, have a social life, and cook dinner all in one day (or week?). I’m supposed to watch the news and read all the latest blogs and reply to everyone on Facebook every time they post something. All these supposed to’s can be exhausting!
I’ve decided to take the zen approach, as in Zen Habits. Leo Babauta’s original post was about how to read more, but I decided to apply this to everything in my life. Just because I can, should I? And just because I should, should I? For instance, to advance your career you’re supposed to volunteer your time to a good cause, attend Toast Masters, and say yes to every “opportunity” at work.. But what if those things are just helping you get a job you don’t really want?
1. Don’t do it because you should – do it because it brings you joy.
As much as I love showing, there are times I’m relieved to have a break from it. In Sept we had three show weekends! There’s the pressure of should (I should show at all the local shows) and the balance of want (I want to finish Wally by 1 year of age but I also want to relax some weekends). I’m not a professional handler and no one is paying me to go to shows. If it doesn’t bring me joy then why am I there? (Fortunately it still brings me joy!) I feel this way about volunteering too; if I don’t love it then I’m not gaining anything from it. The supposed to of self sacrifice isn’t enough to motivate me!
2. Carve out the time to do the things you love.
I want to go to the gym 3-4 days a week, so I make the time to make that happen. I don’t want to make dinner 7 nights a week, so I make enough to and have leftovers the next day. Or we get a chicken at Costco. When I’m reading a good book I make the time to read a few chapters before bed. If that means I miss an episode of Criminal Minds or Modern Family, so be it.
3. Focus on nothing but the thing you’re doing.
If I dedicate 30min to Wally for super fun play, that’s more pure joy for both of us than 1 hour of tossing his toy as I sit on the couch surfing the web.
4. Find other people who do these things.
Going to the gym with Sandi or my mom is WAY more fun than going by myself! Going to shows with people I know is also way more fun than standing ringside by myself.
5. Don’t make it a chore.
The second I add something to my “to do” list it becomes a should rather than a want. If I really want to do it I won’t need to be reminded! Things like a “Bucket List” don’t make sense to me; if it’s truly something you want, you won’t forget it and you’ll do it ASAP!
6. Give up on it if it no longer brings you joy.
I’m not one of those people who exercises because it’s good for me or maintains a friendship I no longer value. It brings me more joy to have 5 awesome friends I love, for instance, than 20 friends that I talk to because I have to. Needless to say, I’m pretty bad about calling even the people I do love! Part of the reason I’ve been able to stick with going to the Y is that I go to the classes I love, like kickboxing and cycling. I also don’t track my progress, because then it becomes more about the goal than the journey.