It’s hard to believe that we’re less than two weeks away from the new year. In a few days it’s going to be Christmas, and while I’m prepared in terms of supplies and logistics, I’m still getting my head around that. Where did this year go? Rather than focus on the things I didn’t manage to get done in 2018, I’ve started planning. In the spirit of creating a magna carta, I’ve begun a couple of informal lists of things I want to stop doing, and things I want to keep doing in 2019.
Things to Stop Doing
There is only one thing on this list, but it’s pretty broad. Earlier this year I started questioning the value of everything I do. Not in some exasperated, rhetorical why am I doing this fashion. Definitely not in a depressive this doesn’t matter and no one cares kind of way. If I could not articulate, to my own satisfaction, why a project or task was worth doing, I stopped.
What I came up with was a quick filter that only had three criteria. If it’s not earning me money, stop doing it. When there’s no clear self-care benefit, stop doing it. If the government doesn’t require me to do it, stop doing it. There are exceptions and gray areas, of course, because this is real life and nothing is ever as clear-cut as we want it to be. But those three questions removed a lot of useless busy work from my life.
Things to Keep Doing
If you’re expecting me to just reverse the above list, well, you get partial credit. Obviously I’m going to do what earns me money, contributes to my well-being, and keeps me compliant with the law. Those three categories need to be refined. My one thing on this side of the equation is keep weighing opportunity costs. If I have a choice of projects to work on that can earn my money, I’m going to go with the one that offers the biggest reward for the least risk. When presented with multiple means of self-care, I’m going to pick the one that gives me what I need most at the moment. If the government gives me a choice as to how to do something, I’m going to pick the one that’s the best fit.
This isn’t as easy as it sounds, because we humans love to justify things. Take a nap instead of take a walk? Okay! That’s self-care! Well, not if what I need is exercise, not more rest. I can talk a line of crap about why the passion project should be worked on instead of the thing my data says will be a sales winner. That doesn’t even count weighing the opportunity cost of the three categories against each other. Just because the deadline to file taxes is months off doesn’t mean I can prioritize going to the movies or the grocery store (both self-care) permanently above filling out paperwork.
Heading Into 2019
I think I’m on a pretty good course right now. While some things might change unexpectedly, for the most part I just need to keep doing what I’m doing, the way I’m doing it, and fine tune bits and pieces along the way. In spite of some twists and turns, 2018 has not been a bad year for me. I’m looking forward to 2019.