How To Get From 'Ideal' To 'Real'
If you had asked me five years ago, “Annie, what do you want out of life?” I'd have said, “I don't know. World peace.”
World peace sounds nice.
The problem is that I can't get the other seven billion people on the planet to stop fighting. Hell, I can't even get my kids to stop looking out each other's windows when we're in the car. So, basically what I wanted was an unrealistic ideal that I had no control over, therefore absolving me from any responsibility in doing anything about it.
If you ask me the same question today, I have answers. Actual answers. How did I get from ideal to real? I asked myself a bunch of questions. Here are the ones that come up every day.
What are we going to do today?
Whether it's building a roller coaster in the back yard or remembering to call the dentist to make an appointment, having a plan is a good idea. (For those who know me and are calling “bullshit,” please keep in mind that just because I don't have a plan at 8am or even 8 m the wheels are always turning.) For me, it's not important to know the details of what my day is going to be like, more that I'm opening up my mind to be on the lookout for possibilities.
What do I need to do? ... have to do? ... want to do? ... get to do?
Do I need to make an appointment? Buy a gift? What's coming up that needs some action behind it?
Do I have to go to work or to one of the appointments I made on a different day? These are the things that are scheduled for this day and only this day.
The want-to's are that. What do I want to do? Get a pedicure? Buy a pretty dress? Even if I may not get to it, is there something that I want to do if the universe can conspire to eek out some time?
The get-to's are special. They're the bedtime stories, the soccer games, the recitals. Special moments that pass all too quickly.
How was your today?
There were many years where it seemed like no one was interested in how my day was, or didn't want to take the time to find out. I believe that our lives are made up of many days, and each one matters. I take time to remember remember what I did right, and to give myself permission to try again tomorrow when I don't. If no one is asking you, ask yourself.
How's my energy? ... mood? ... health?
I burned myself out trying to keep the world spinning and making sure everyone else was happy. Turns out the world spins fine on its own, and people need to be responsible for their own feelings. If we take the time each day to notice that we are headed in a direction we don't want to be going, maybe we won't end up in places we don't want to be as often.
What did I do today that was TOTALLY AWESOME?
This is my final and favorite question. Sure, maybe I had a bad day. Maybe it was the worst day ever. Maybe nothing went my way.
I DON'T CARE. I DON'T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT THAT. I want to know what was awesome about it. Maybe it's as simple as "I didn't let myself stay in bed all day hiding under the covers waiting for the latest wave of depression to pass." Other days, I can say I raced up 48 flights of stairs, rolled down a hill in a hamster ball, ziplined through the forest, put my toes in the ocean for the first time, fought a few dragons, and kissed my babies. There is always something I can celebrate about my day. Knowing that there is a test later keeps my mind open to looking for whatever awesome I can find.