The New Year had me thinking a lot about goals, values, ambitions, motivations, life, and how excited I was to wear my new fuzzy socks. With all the talk of “look how far you’ve come in a year” and “can you believe that was only 1 year ago” I found myself even more reflective and nearly bubbling over with blog ideas – two of which involved writing about goals and values.
At my old job, we had a list of working norms – kind of like guiding values – and each day at our morning huddle, we would say what working norm we were focusing on that day. I loved that idea. I mean, obviously, in theory, you were living into every positive attribute every day you walked into the office, but how nice it was to really put your heart and soul behind one guiding value each week.
For this reason, I’ve decided to dedicate a new series of “Res” posts to my own kind of working norms – my own mini-resolutions. You don’t have to buy into any of these. You don’t have to make your own. But maybe at some point, it’ll make you think about what it would look like to radically change your life one week at a time.
Res 15: - Go Back to Basics
Sometimes, I can be a slave to my to-do list. Okay, a lot of the time, I can be a slave to my to-do list. Alright, fine, I am a slave to my to-do list. I love highlighting completed tasks and on Sunday nights, looking back at how far I’ve come in a week. Except, while this is good for my ego, it isn’t necessarily always good for my productivity.
Because I live for the feeling of a checked box, it’s easy, sometimes, to focus on the easy tasks. It makes sense to first do the things that I can quickly cross off. It’s harder to commit an entire day to something, when I could fly through a dozen small things. Those small tasks are treading water. It’ll keep me afloat, sure, but it won’t get me anywhere. I need to focus on the big things. I need to swim across the lake.
I was thinking about this yesterday, as I spent 12 hours on a beautiful Spring Saturday typing up almost half of my Happiness is statuses. Allow me to back pedal.
When I began posting Happiness is statuses on November 9th 2011, I immediately began writing them in a journal. Every year since then, I have bought the same style journal and hand written every single post. In addition to the notebooks and my personal Facebook page, I also began to share Happiness is posts on the official Facebook page, Twitter feed, Pinterest profile, and Instagram wall. The one thing that was missing was a digitalized copy.
Nowhere did I have a word document or excel spreadsheet with all the statuses. I was living on a prayer and six tiny notebooks. I knew at some point I would/should type them all out, but that seemed like a lot of work. It seemed like a lot of work when I thought about it at Day 700. It seemed like more work when I thought about it at Day 1200. It seemed like the most work when I thought about it at Day 1800 and it seemed absolutely ludicrous when I thought about completing the task in 50 hours at Day 1985.
But that’s exactly what I did. I quickly realized that not doing things right from the beginning only means you have a lot of “doing over” to do. I was reminded of one of those inspirational classroom posters from elementary school, “if you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” It was a direct stab at people like me, who are happy to rush through things to cross them off their list instead of taking the time to set up systems that will help them in the future.
On Saturday, the 8th, I thought about how I really, really needed to just type them. On Thursday the 13th, I pulled out my first notebook. After working at my normal job all day Thursday and Friday, I came home and managed to get in extra hours of type time. Each night around 1 am, I collapsed into my bed, for the first time in a long time, really feeling like I was doing this side-hustle justice.
It felt good to remember the feeling of pure exhaustion and hard work.
On Saturday morning, I made myself a bowl of grits, answered a few emails, and returned to my desk. I was going to finish these posts. At 9:30 pm, I did.
Resolution #15: Go Back to Basics
It’s easy to think that we have a lot going on and that now really isn’t the best time to tackle this project. But if not now, then when? How quickly one day turned into nearly 2000. How severely am I kicking myself for not having proper systems in place to make my organization of this project easier.
It’s easy to push things off, to come up with quick fixes, or to put some duct tape around the leaky pipe. After all, the problem is gone for the time being, right? In reality, all that does it cause a bigger problem down the road.
Your best bet is to start now. To go back to the beginning and plant solid roots. To build from the foundation up instead of aimlessly trying to hammer your way to a home. It’s not easy to go back and – in a way – start new. But it is necessary. Start from the basics. Work your way up. A task is only worth completing if you complete it properly and with integrity.
Do the right thing. Work hard. And keep your eye on the bigger picture. It’s about more than today. It’s about the future.