For 14 weeks I keep adding new ways of behaving and thinking to my life weekly and see how they affect my well being. The goal is of course to make only positive changes that help me become the best version of myself that I can be.
I always have very high expectations of myself no matter what I do. Succeeding and coming up with solid products has in a way become a definition of who I am over the years, and not just something that I do repeatedly. This is the way I want things to be but, I have also noticed that sometimes I go over the top. Too high demands can block creativity and actually make the end product worse than it could be under a more relaxed condition.
Many of my friends have told me repeatedly that I over-achieve and lately, I’ve had so many things to do that I simply cannot pay an excess amount of attention to all of them, and therefore, week 10 is about “loosening it up”. In other words: putting things in order (first things first), deciding which things to carefully plan and execute and which just to get over with. The week is also about acceptance and leniency: I, as a human being and not a robot, must accept that I make mistakes and that I need help (I hate asking for help) and that I shouldn’t punish myself for these things. So, I’m having quite a mental week ahead of me.
The day had an early start as I went to a meeting at 7 am. After that I had a few lectures and then after studying for some hours I substituted three dance classes in the evening. Many of my days are like this but still I try to obey my own advice and hold on to the new habits that I’m trying to form in this project.
Today, I came to the conclusion that I must allow myself some leeway with respect to my steps of change. Holding on slavishly to all the new activities is, to be honest, a bit stressful in itself. Change is always stressful. But since the goal is to be happy – not perfect – part of the process is to determine how much change do I want and how fast. 10 new ways of life is a lot and there’s still 4 to come.
Today started well – I got an email from the student bureau, saying that my bachelor’s thesis has been accepted with the highest possible grade. I’m really happy! But, this also made me think about what makes me happy. Shouldn’t there be more to be happy about than just a high grade?
I have always liked getting good grades and I’ve always been proud of it. But, at the same time, being “the best” student has interfered with other very human things and that has made me sad at times. So, in a way I have traded sociability to academic success and maybe lost some of my happiness in the trade. That’s why instead of focusing on the achievement, I try to focus on the process: I am now involved in dance therapy research and that allows me to combine two of the things I’m passionate about. I get to work with great, intelligent people and create something that might help dancers and dance teachers speak for their art and its importance.
I was quite torn between things today. The first half of the day I spent on my computer doing statistics homework (deadline tomorrow) and then I had to choose whether to go to a small dance event or not and after that we had a family dinner. The over-achiever in me kept saying that I should skip the jam and just keep doing the homework, then quickly go to my parents’ house and continue to work after. But after listening more carefully to what I really wanted to do, I went to the jam, had a great time dancing and sweating, then went to my parents’ house, ate great food and stayed for a few extra hours just to talk with them.
Why was this the right decision for me? It made me happy. Will I score perfectly on the homework? Most likely not. Does it matter? Not really. Spending time with your loved ones isn’t comparable with spending time on your computer with SPSS.
I had to compensate for yesterday’s decision of not finishing my homework. That meant that I skipped one hour of practice and worked while others were dancing. I must say it was quite a good incentive to just get it done to hear good music and people cheering.
Overall, knowing myself, it is very important to know what am I going after. What do I want from this project? I do it for myself – not for anyone else. Sharing it here, shouldn’t be a reason to do this but just a small incentive to stay consistent. Still, choosing not to do something every day is OK as long as I’m happy with that decision.
It is interesting how the train of thought can lead to a somewhere where you weren’t planning to go to. Starting from the thought that I’m allowed to skip some of the steps of change that I have defined myself, I ended up thinking a lot about why I do things and what do I want. And this lead to thinking that doing things just because I want to do them, is completely natural. Some things can be driven by deeper reasons, but I tend to let myself only do those things as if just wanting something isn’t good enough.
Lots of thinking. This was some bits while most of it got onto the pages of my diary (week 6!). These thoughts will definitely keep maturing but one thing is for sure. It feels good to breathe. It feels good to get things done but also to be able to do something fun in the between. Life shouldn’t be all about duties.