Rethinking

Aug. 4th, 2012 08:49 am
stapsdoes101things: '101' superimposed on a stylised picture of a teapot (Default)
[personal profile] stapsdoes101things
7 July 2012

Recently, thanks to a conversation with the Rector, I've had a revelation about my relationship with the phrase 'I ought to...' - it's hugely unhelpful. It kills all sense of perspective, batters my self-esteem, and, ironically, tends to end up with my getting much less done than I would have done had I not been swamped with things I 'ought to be' doing.

Sadly, a lot of things on my 101 list are on there because I feel 'I ought to' do them - or are things that I no longer have much interest in, but feel 'I ought to' do because they're on the list. This saddens me a little when I think of all the trouble I went to setting this list up, but there you go.

I want to release myself from 'I ought to'. I don't want this to be some dull worthy self-improvement programme. At the same time, I want to acknowledge that the 101 format has been, and continues to be, very helpful to me. It gives me permission to have fun, and to spend money on having fun. I'm not so convinced about the 1001 part of it, though. I want to give myself room to grow, and to give my goals time to happen when they want to, not to force them.

For example: on my last list, begun in 2007, ended in 2010, I had 'Become a competent cyclist'. In my mind that was going to involve me riding Auntie Suzie's bike round and round Stoke Park until I had learned to signal without falling off. What has actually happened is that over the last four months I have done a bit of lateral thinking, acquired two tricycles, and am now at the point where I cycle to work at least four days a week. Some goals need me to be in a different place, a place I couldn't imagine when I wrote the list.

And this is another thing. I never quite accounted for my tendency to develop wild obsessions at a moment's notice. For example, since I started this list I have become very interested in: letterboxing, carving stamps out of rubbers, cycling, watching other people cycling, writing extremely long Prisoner of Zenda fanfic, and did I mention cycling? All of those could be the basis for some fantastic 101 goals, and I suppose I could go in and replace some other goals I'm fed up with, but... I don't know. It just seems too fiddly, and not what I need to be doing.

So I'm going to quit. Or, rather, I'm going to keep the list as an aide-memoire, but lose the time limits and the sense of obligation. After all, the things I really want to do, I will do. The things that really need to be done, I will do. Several of the things that were on the longlist but didn't make it here because they were too personal, or too scary, I've actually managed to do. I may continue to add goals.

Even thinking about giving up has felt liberating. I no longer have to keep wading through this terrible translation of 'Feathered Serpent' by Xu Xiaobin just because she was the only X author in the library. I can stop watching TED talks, which mostly make me feel guilty about Not Doing More To Change The World. I do not have to do boring stuff because I feel I ought to. (I might need to do boring stuff because it needs doing, but that's another story.)

This journal will stay. I will still be mentally ticking off goals, and I will come and post about them when I do. When I've done everything that I'm likely to do, I'll rethink.

And I still want to go up in a hot air balloon.

Date: 2012-08-05 08:44 am (UTC)
sashajwolf: photo of Blake with text: "reality is a dangerous concept" (Default)
From: [personal profile] sashajwolf
The whole "ought to" thing is why I've never made a 101 Things list, although I get and respect that it works for some people. It just interacts badly with my personal mental health stuff. I'm glad you're feeling liberated, and I hope the new approach works out well for you.

August 2013

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