On Wednesday, I shared Sid Madge’s words of wisdom about building a life around what is important to us, and since it has been a theme on which I have worked with my therapist over the past few months, I thought I’d share what my answers are to the questions raised in that post. I remember some advice a priest gave to someone else (I may have mentioned it before), a guy was trying to discern his way ahead and figured he’d love to be a veterinarian but felt that he should consider being a priest because it was holier and more Catholic even if it didn’t make him happy. The priest told him to forget about seminary and go to study veterinary sciences because God gave him feelings of happiness at the thought to guide his decisions. For this reason, I think a small degree of “selfishness” in introspection is needed, and that’s why I loved this method.
What are your values?
I am really nowhere as good a person as people think I am. Off the top of my head, my values are curiosity, control, variety, pleasure, and independence. I’d also say purpose. A lot of the things that I would more readily think of boil down to a need for control and independence, so I’d say the core value is that one. Of course, this is also the greatest struggle I have in the spiritual life. I am entirely aware of that. On a more positive note, it’s not that I don’t value things like generosity, altruism, etc, but it all boils down to pleasure: I love to see the smiles I put on people’s faces when I do something that they appreciate. To say that I value those character traits would make me look like a better person, but I’m not so selfless I value them for their own sake. I genuinely enjoy life more as a kind person than I would as a bitter cynic.
Map your interests and where you’d like to end up. How can you use what you have now to help you get there?
I’m writing this on day 2 of lockdown no 2, so it’s perfectly timely. I used to be very active in the past, I’m very competitive and so team sports suited me better than endless runs in the park. My teenage years look a lot like Lucas Scott from One Tree Hill but as a girl, playing sports, writing, and getting tangled into romantic situations that are best avoided. Somewhere along the line, I became a bit of a house recluse, starting a vicious cycle of health problems which I’d very much like to reverse if I can. So, improving my health and fitness is one of the goals. At the moment, I am focusing on making sure I don’t drop my vitamin D to impossibly low levels again, and balancing my hormones as it might be the culprit behind a lot of it, because the lack of energy is my biggest concern.
Another of the goals is, probably unsurprising, writing. You may be aware that I am doing NaNoWriMo again this year, and in fact for the first time ever I am sticking to it. I guess what changed is that I committed to writing this summer with the Writers’ HQ online retreats, I’ve seen just how happy I am when I see a blank page become filled with words and a story take shape. I have written some serious stuff and countless fan fictions (a few which have seen the light of day to great acclamation from the community where they’ve been shared). Now I have written a story for a competition too, although I realised I may not be suited for 500 words and under and may never do that again. What I have at my disposal to get to the goal of having a manuscript to pitch to agents is the time I have. I have a little problem with energy, having relied on energy drinks all week this week, but that’s pretty much the main thing behind my procrastination. If I combat my brain fog, I manage my time quite well, and when I am focused I achieve a lot, which in turn gives me a morale boost.
A third and final goal is that I regret moving to the suburbs and I want to move back to an urban area. It’s ok now we’re in lockdown anyway, I live in a Waitrose delivery area next to a park, but I miss the lifestyle I had when I lived closer to Zone 1. I had more friends and even if I went out on my own I had things to do and places to explore, and money to spend on doing things because My mood was much better then than it has been since I moved here because I have lost a lot of what I value with this move. Of course, this is a much bigger goal than the others, which requires some adjustments to pay off debts and save the money necessary for a move without incurring more debt, but since my health was behind my career moves for the past 4 years the focus on improving it is the first step that would put the rest into place.
Your anti-bucket list
There are very few jobs that would meet the criteria of “if you do what you love you won’t feel like you’re working”, so outside of that I don’t particularly care about what job I have as long as I don’t hate it (so, not marketing) and it funds my preferred lifestyle. Having said that, it’s not like money is so important that it becomes a goal in itself, so between a job I like more but it pays less and a higher-paying one I like less, the choice is easy: the one I like more. I also don’t really care to get “a real job” the way my family means that question whenever they ask me if I’m ever going to get a “real job”. I also never cared about buying a house and I’d rather spend that money on traveling around the world. I’d only consider buying if I could buy outright without a mortgage because I just have that much money, but unless I’m the next J.K. Rowlings I have no deliberate plan to get in that position.
What is your first step & who will be your cheerleader?
My first step, as I mentioned before, is getting to the bottom of the health problems that have held me back for the past 5 or so years. Everything else will fall into place when that foundation has been built. As for my cheerleader, I think my husband and some of my friends are the only people who don’t think I am completely nuts in my lifestyle choices, so I guess them.