It’s funny — I had an idea for a post for next June, around my birthday, something like “30 Lessons in 30 Years.” You know, one of those list-based reflection posts bloggers love to share on their birthdays (right up there with “28 Things to Do While I’m 28” and stuff). Anyway, my list, if I do end up sharing it next year, will be major lessons learned during each year of my life — so, number one would be “learning to walk” and number 17 or so would be “mom and dad always find out.”
Then I came up to this gratitude52 prompt and thought, huh.
What is my big life lesson this year?
For all my major intentions and big goals, 2015 has not gone as planned in the slightest.
That doesn’t mean it was bad — there are definitely highlights scattered throughout the last 12 months.
But when I look back, what strikes me most is that things — I — just stayed steady.
I made all sorts of attempts at big projects and plans to achieve goals and a lot of them…sputtered out and fell short.
I don’t want to discount what I did accomplish, which was a fair amount, but compared to the heights I wanted to reach? I didn’t come close.
As I was thinking about this, it struck me that two of my favorite writers have well-used sayings that sort of oppose each other.
Chris Guillebeau likes to remind his readers that we tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in a day, but underestimate what we can accomplish in a year.
Gretchen Rubin frequently says that “the days are long, but the years are short.”
(Gretchen also says “the opposite of a great truth is also true,” so there’s that.)
They’re talking about different things — Chris about setting goals and realistic expectations, Gretchen about savoring time and being present instead of always rushing to the next whatever, but aren’t they both right?
Looking back at 2015, I think what I can take away from it is both of those truths. I constantly — almost daily — tried to cram my days with ridiculously long, over-reaching to-do lists that never got truly completed. Most of those “to-dos” were the types of tasks that yes, have to get done, but aren’t getting me closer to my Really Big Goals. Completing assignments, checking email, or updating my blog instead of adding content to my writing website or pitching the prospects that scare me. In trying to do ALL THE THINGS every day, the progress I could’ve made towards advancing and improving in my career stalled.
And in trying to do ALL THE THINGS, I let myself get caught up in that daily grind and hardly ever let myself or had the time to enjoy the perks of this lifestyle — traveling more, exploring the city, meeting friends for lunch or happy hour, spending time on other hobbies. At this point, I obviously don’t really expect to be able to earn a sustaining income on just two or three days of work each week (supposedly the dream of all of us online business owners/entrepreneurs/creative professionals, right?), but if I keep doing things as I have been, I’ll never come close to getting there.
So that’s where I’m at. And I’ll just say that I’m so grateful for this exercise because if I hadn’t been compelled to stop and ask myself what I’ve learned this year, I probably wouldn’t have learned it.