I recently realized that I am thinking ahead more than I usually do. And not in a worrying/trying to control the future kind of way. But more of a making-what-I-want-happen kind of way. In several cases, this means I am thinking about things right on time: planning and research will allow action at the right time.
With the yard and gardening, I am making plans and researching before it’s warm enough to do anything. Usually I am planting weeks late, finally mulching in July, and staring at weeds helplessly because I missed the timing to treat them.
I have been researching buying a grill and it was snowing a bit yesterday. I have one picked out and can wait for it to go on sale (or to just buy in a few weeks). I have been saying that I want a grill for several years now, Spring and summer turn to fall and rarely have I done more than a tiny bit of research. Evening walks perfumed with grilling dinners remind me of my failure.
I am researching a bike purchase, and it is again too cold to ride regularly. By the time I have decided what to purchase, the weather will be perfect for regular rides.
At work the planning has also kicked in. Rather than remaining a victim to the onslaught of work and distractions that kept the important things on the back burner, I have set goals and am working towards them. It feels really good. Some days still get off track due to events outside my control, but then I return my focus to what’s important and get back to it.
Part of me responds to all this with “Wow, what a mystery. I have no idea what’s different this time around.” But in all fairness to myself, there are a few things I have been doing to help this process along.
1. Being present encourages planning for the future and living the life we want.
I don’t have any expertise or research to back this us, it’s just a hypothesis from my own experience. But over the past several months, I have been actively trying to become and remain more present. Yoga, journaling, and meditation have all helped in this. It is in the state of being present that I have found myself hoping, planning, and taking action towards the things that I want. I think this is because it is in present that we can formulate thoughts, take action, achieve goals. We cannot do that in the past or the future: and yet that is where most of us spend much of our lives. If not in the present, we are cut off from our power to be, create, and achieve.
2. Believe that what you want matters and is a worthy focus of your attention.
For those of us with care-taking/co-dependent tendencies, this is really the crucial step. Until what I want matters just as much (and sometimes more!) as what I think others may want/need- my desires will remain at the bottom of the list. And there they will remain until I die. I’m not trying to be dramatic, just honest. If we always prioritize others- we will never get to ourselves, because there is ALWAYS someone else to think about, care for, take responsibility for. While for some it sounds like I’m advocating selfishness, it probably only sounds that way because you’ve gotten off balance with regard to what is your responsibility in this life. You are not responsible for someone else’s happiness/life/choices, and therefore no one is responsible for yours. So if you’re not valuing what you want…no one will. And that’s a recipe for a depressing, missed-out-on life.
3. Identify what you want and choose to work towards it.
I do a lot of things on a regular basis. Shower, wash my clothes, grocery shop and cook, play Candy Crush. I do these things because I have decided that I want to do them. It’s important to note that most of the examples listed are actually needs, not wants. But just because something is needed, it doesn’t mean that our minds and bodies automatically start doing them. That would be nice, but alas, we are humans, not robots. So even with those tasks that are dreaded and we would never say we “want” to do them (cleaning toilets, calling insurance companies, pulling weeds), desire is actually needed to get from idea to action. The way this translates for me is not that I want to call the insurance company, but that I want to have my finances in order and this is a stepping stone towards that. I have many other things I’d like to do besides weeding, however I really want to spend time on my patio and the weeds really distract from the Zen I’m going for…so a-weeding I will go.
I am aware that some seasons of life– or for some, their entire lives– seem ill-suited to focusing on what you want. Perhaps between earning money, making sure the kids are fed and loved, caring for that aging parent, struggling through depression or medical issues….there seems to be no time or energy for ourselves. Certainly, such a time of life doesn’t allow for just any type of goal. But I believe, if you allow your heart to remember how to want, you will be able to pretty quickly identify something that you want that is actually achievable. 10 minutes to enjoy coffee in the morning. A few pretty plants and herbs planted (saving the desired garden for another year). I think our hearts are pretty smart and can work with us to dream dreams that fit the time/energy/resources that we currently have.
So take a minute and dare to ask: “What do I want?”. Then start working towards it.