One of my favorite things to do to unwind is walk through the local Barnes and Noble. The combination of the smell of new books and starbucks brewing bring a creative calm to my heart. I usually browse through history, current affairs, business and christian living. I love to read books. If I could read 10 hours a day, I would. Perhaps I may even have an addiction to books. My typical “poison” is Non Fiction. I’ve learned from reading well over a thousand books, that every Non Fiction book sells you a perfect life, with steps to this, and steps to that. All the success, effectiveness, and happiness you could ever dream of in 10 easy steps. Anxiety filled office overhaul day after anxiety filled office overhaul day, I have learned to manage expectations and be real. There are circumstances in life that are not excuses, and certainly not roadblocks to success. Managing our specific lives rather than comparing ourselves to others will vastly increase our happiness and drive further effort rather than stifle them in anxious self pity. I’ve done them all. Here are some key learnings from my anxiety filled attempt to become everyone but myself.
[ D ] Salvador Dali – Metamorphosis of Narcissus (1937) (Photo credit: Cea.)
1. Don’t compare your work to people in different stages of life or career. Comparing my blog to Michael Hyatt’s blog is ridiculous. He is the retired CEO of a major publisher, vastly more experienced (by 20 + years I’d guess), and has way more resources than I do. Compare, instead to novices if that’s where you are. How do you compare to people just starting out?
2. How much time do you have available? Trying to squeeze in another “thing” is difficult. Some people can tightly schedule their time, some can’t. Too rigid a schedule leads to anxiety and no room for life’s inevitable interruptions, especially if you have kids. Rigidity leads to rushing, which kills creativity. Be realistic about how long things take. Too many times I see people simply overplaying their hand when it comes to their ability to get things done. If, on average, it takes 30 minutes to mow the lawn, don’t think you can do it in 10.
3. Live in reality. You have obligations on your time and energy. Life has seasons. What season are you in? Prioritize not just your time, but your energy. Being honest with your commitment to give effort to a project is perhaps the most important thing you can do for your happiness and success. You can over commit and fake it for a while with other people, but you know if you are out of your comfort zone and will be unhappy. One blog post per week and happiness is better than 5 posts and misery. It’s not sustainable and is counterproductive.
4. Define your goals. What are you trying to accomplish. My goal with this blog is to write for the sake of writing and to get better. I periodically check in with my motives and compare them with my goals. If I’m unhappy with my follower count, or engagement, I remind myself that was never my purpose. Your goals may be different. Defining them gives you firm ground to stand on. Self honesty is a must. Changing goals with the weather doesn’t usually lead to success.
Understanding where you are in the development process and how much time and energy you have and are honestly willing to give toward a defined goal is key to intentional living.
What one thing have you lied to yourself about in the last week?