I launched my blog with trying to find the essential, and I have to say, I’ve failed miserably. Well, no, let’s use some positive language – I am still working on figuring out what is essential. My problem is, I want to do too much, and I’m too easily distracted. It’s not completely my fault; our world today is full of distractions, designed to draw our attention. Everyone wants our attention. Which makes it all the more imperative that we find the essential.
To quickly recap the principles and steps of Essentialism:
- First, we explore our current pursuits and pare down to what is most important to us.
- Secondly, we work to eliminate the non-essentials that keep us from achieving the life we want to live.
- Then, we figure out how to execute habits and a positive mindset to achieve that life.
I started off the year thinking I knew what I wanted. The thing was, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted. As with all aspects of my life, I have vague ideas of what my goals are and how I was going to achieve those goals. And I often let my goals change over time (by “time,” I mean within one to three months). That’s barely enough time to fail at something! That’s not even enough time to get started, much less enough time to start failing. But something else will pop up about a month into each new endeavor, and I’ll get distracted by the shiny packaging.
Let’s evaluate. I didn’t explicitly say what was essential. The only thing I decided was that I wanted to read. Reading is essential to me. Great! I like to read. So what am I doing with that?
I made no plans for what I was going to do with my reading. My vague idea was to do reviews of books that enrich our lives. To implement things I learned in those books, to find what worked and what didn’t. It’s still too early to judge myself a complete failure, but I have not been focusing on that goal; I’ve been letting my varied interests pull me in all directions. I started entertaining ideas of other things I could be doing with my blog, when I hadn’t even given this original (albeit vaguely formed) idea a fair shot.
It’s been three months since I started my blog, and I have not started working on any of the grandiose goals I set out to accomplish this year. First, there was the personal finance aspect, where I wanted to get my act together. Haven’t even looked at that again, but in all fairness, it’s kind of hard to work on any of those things on my list when I’m currently racking up student debt while simultaneously lacking in income. The only thing I can work on are my taxes, and that’s batting one out of five. (My actual batting stats are much better; I joined a softball team this year, and I’ve had a hit seven of eight at-bats. I’m surprised yet proud of my newfound athletic prowess.)
I also have not been actively working on my communication skills. The most effective way would be to talk to more people, but I have not been trying to talk to more people. If anything, I’ve talked less in the last two months. Not sure how that happened, but it’s obvious that these two goals were not as essential as I thought.
On top of that, I found a shiny new toy to play with – I joined a writing challenge. The idea was that I get into a writing habit that will enable me to create consistent, quality content for my blog. In reality, this was a distraction. Not only did it bring up unresolved issues from my past that I wasn’t ready to confront, it made me question whether I wanted to keep working on this blog. Why should I blog when I could write a novel instead? But writing a novel isn’t what I want right now. Maybe some day, but right now, what I want is to share knowledge and enrich lives. (Also, I didn’t even complete the writing challenge – I’ve been doing it sporadically.)
Find the Essential
So what is essential? I had to stop everything I was doing (besides school, I couldn’t stop doing school) and take a break. I didn’t try to work on my blog, or write, or pursue any of the new ideas that kept jumping up at me. My greatest fear is death by suffocation, and here I was, letting myself suffocate under all these ideas.
The break was only a couple of days. But it was an intentional couple of days. Instead of bumming around, wallowing in my misery, I purposely thought about what was important to me and what I wanted to achieve. And so I found that what I really wanted to focus on was:
- School. I made the commitment to go back to school, and I’m bleeding money by the minute to realize that goal. So I have to invest the time and effort into making the most of my education and getting everything I can out of it. I’ve also decided what track/concentration to take, so I’m pretty excited about that.
- Blog. I really, really want to make a success of my blog. I want to share helpful books with everyone, books that can change lives. But I think I want to expand beyond books. Reading makes up the majority of my life, but if the point is to apply the things I learn reading, I need to keep myself accountable. So I’m going to focus more on the action steps than the learning. I’ll still keep the same goals I made from my first month blogging (more on this below); they’re good goals and they do make blogging rewarding.
- Proofreading. This is new, but I’ve always loved grammar and the English language, and I’m constantly correcting in my head the errors I see when I’m reading. Since I love to read anything and everything, I’m offering my services as a proofreader both for the income and to feel like a contributing member of society again. Check out my freelance site for rates and more details.
I’ve been making progress on the goals I made after my first month: I’ve consistently kept a Monday-posting schedule; I’ve been regularly commenting on other blogs; and I’m working on promoting my posts more widely (this still needs work). I’m feeling pretty good about this latest attempt to find the essential.
Have you been overwhelmed by life and needed to reassess? What did you do?