A comment I received on my last post (from a loyal reader who I consider an online friend) left me a bit uncomfortable and led me to dig a bit deeper into my motives in developing and tracking progress on my Intentions. I have to quote the comment here for context into what I'm going to discuss but I want you to know that I truly appreciated your thoughtful responses, and am not trying to "call you out" or make you feel bad for what you wrote. One of the main reasons I write this blog is to engage in meaningful discussions, and that absolutely includes disagreements & differing viewpoints. Not everything I think about is logical or rational, and its healthy to get an outside opinion once in a while. End disclaimer.
"the process you go through these areas of self-improvement to grade
yourself seems really harsh and not very healthy to me today. I guess
this is a normal thing that women are supposed to do..... always
actively try to be better, but why not just try living life and doing
what you can and being ok with that?....That's not an "F" that's just reality."
This definitely hit home....am I pushing myself too hard, disguising self-loathing as self-improvement? Shouldn't I just be "going with the flow" and enjoying whatever life brings? Does trying to be better imply that I don't think I'm good enough?
I think it is the grading system that seems harsh. Definitely giving myself an "F" seems a bit punishing from the outside. Truly, I started using the grades because I saw another blogger do this, and it seemed a useful way to track my progress...when I started, I kind of assumed that I would get poor grades in some categories and then I could focus on those areas and "bring my grades up" to end up with all As. Halfway into the year I realized that is not the case. There is a lot of ebb and flow to it...I'll focus on one thing for a while & then another, I can't possibly do it all every day or even every month. Energy & time put into one area obviously can't be put into another.
But. That does not mean its not worth doing or thinking about right now. There are times in life when you have to cut your focus down to one or two things...you're in pure survival mode and everything else simply has to wait. I've had LOTS of those times. My entire 20s and early 30s was survival mode. Med school, residency, the difficult first year of fellowship, studying for 3 different board exams, moving, pregnancy, newborn phase... I didn't have the time or energy to even THINK about what I wanted in life, much less to make them happen. And that's OK. It wasn't all grim endurance, I tried to have fun, do things that brought me joy. I met my husband, we got married, we traveled a lot, I squeezed in a social life and exercise. I learned to cook, read lots of books, I lived life.
Then I found myself in my mid-30s, on the other side of all these "major life-changing events" and I was still living like I was in survival mode. "I don't have time for that" "Lets just make it through the weekend" and it was kind of...grim. I wanted something different & better...what was I waiting for? There wasn't something we had to "get through" to get to the life we wanted, we simply had to make it happen. So I thought about what was important to me & came up with these Intentions. By and large, I think I'm doing pretty good with them. I use them to make decisions about how I spend my time but also to shift my attitude from that of endurance to enjoyment.
These areas I chose to focus on are 100% my priorities in life. Others may have different ones. Getting up early to sweat on the elliptical may seem a bit harsh, but the endorphins & confidence that come from pushing your body...I need that. Staying up late to watch a movie I don't really love with my husband may seem annoying, but his appreciation with me for sharing something important to him & the closeness it brings...I need that. I chose these goals not solely to push myself or change myself, but to bring myself joy. The proportions might change over time but I need all the ingredients in my recipe for happiness.