I've always been a bit of an overachiever. For example, in 5th grade. We had this assignment to draw the state flag of all 50 states. I had to be an artiste extraodinaire, even on flags like New York's, which are just impossible. I stayed up to all hours of the night working on that assignment (OK, maybe 10:30, but that's late for a 10-year-old) to get those flags just right. Then my teacher made us start in on the state birds ... good grief.

The point is, when I set my mind to something, I just can't let it go. If I want to draw a perfect New York state flag, I will. If I want to run a half marathon, I'm will run a half marathon. If I want to live in Asia, don't doubt that I'll pack my bags and board that plane.

Not only am I a compulsive overachiever, I like achieving things. I can't thrive without a goal. Even if that goal is as mundane as getting out of bed the first time the alarm goes off. Setting that goal, especially past where you think you can reach it, and then actually reaching it is the ultimate exhilaration.

This may sound silly, but my goal for the moment is to be content with living my life. It sounds like an achievement oxymoron, right? At first thought, it's like saying: Make it your goal not to have a goal; don't work toward anything. But think again. What's the hardest thing for a goal-oriented overachiever to do? Not have a goal. It's totally out of my reach!

At the start of 2011 I didn't make any resolutions, and I'm letting myself live life. It's been kinda great. I've done yoga and gone to dance classes when I want to. I hardly run at all. I cook only when I want to (even if it means making two meals at the same time). I started up a craft, but only work on it when the mood strikes (twice in three weeks). I clean just enough to keep my apartment from spawning mystery smells. I stay up late reading books I enjoy. ... And I even joined a marching band.

The fluidity of life right now is throwing me a little off kilter. I really want to hang on to that buoy and not let go. But at the same time, the ability to just live life just as I want to right now is freeing.

OK, I'll admit I'm secretly getting by on mini goals, like turning lights off when I'm not using them and feeding the cat every day. I even let some big ones, like making new friends, slip through. (I'm an overachiever, after all.) But what do you think: Can I achieve my ultimate goal of contentedness and just enjoy living my life?

1 comment:

Little Wonder Lauren said...

Thank God. I thought I was the only one who was goal-obsessed (thank you, grad school) and trying to come down from that a bit.

I've still got goals that have to do with keeping up with my blog and becoming a extra-talented, extra-valuable employee at my new job, but I've been trying to back up a few steps when it comes to all my reading. I am only reading what I really feel like reading, which is a huge step for a former literature graduate student who thinks that I _should_ have read X, Y and Z by now. Basically, that means I've been indulging in a lot of classic childhood and young adult favorites -- I've re-read Catcher in the Rye, The Giver, and now I'm finally getting around to reading Island of the Blue Dolphins for the very first time...

And I'm trying to just "enjoy life"/"be normal." Go to work and work, come home and enjoy. It's both liberating and a little strange. Kind of like putting on a jacket that's a little too tight. :-)

Good luck!