I've blogged before about the game I'll Be Happy When. My To Do/Resolutions list is kind of a version of that game, in a way. I've been working on my expanded list today, trying to figure out better ways to make sure I carry them through for the whole year and thinking about which resolutions worked last year and why and so on. And it's been making me think about a few things.
I drafted my 2009 list three times, on separate occasions. See, I read that the planet Saturn was stationery or going retrograde or something over NYE and that that meant, astrologically, that any resolutions you made, would particularly stick this year and thus you should be careful what you resolved to do. So I was kinda making sure that I phrased things best, hence the fiddling with things three times. What was interesting, though, was when confronted with the "be careful what you wish for" thing, what I decided to write and commit to became positive things and very concise. What was also interesting was, throughout the party last night, I kept thinking of things that I needed to add to the latest list so as not to forget them, but when I finally sat down to compare the lists, and add things that I thought I had forgotten, the funny thing was that the lists were pretty much the same. The items were in a different order but the wording was consistent and the lists were basically the same. In other words, I guess, I know exactly the things that bother me about my life or the things that I want to change or get done to improve it. A different version of the I Will Be Happy When Game.
But that had me thinking about the game itself. Because there were things that I got into doing last year or changed about me or my lifestyle that have stuck and that have made me happier. They aren't the things that you'd think, either. And that had me thinking. Because the kind of things you put on resolutions lists require energy to do or to change from your normal default. And that's why they're on the list. And when I look at things like that, I always feel like I have to gird my loins, or be on a high energy day to attack or really psyche myself up to start or change. And that makes them hard. And the default looks easier.
But the thing is, even though often the default action is the one that seems to require the least energy - like not making my bed, say (I never make my bed, that's 5 extra minutes for doing other things), which you'd think requires no energy since you're not doing anything - can actually be the things that drain you of energy. Those sorts of things actually sit in the back of my mind like white noise and ride on me. But I only started noticing that doing things to make changes in my life, which whilst they did require energy to put in, unlike the default state, actually gave me energy - they made me feel good or accomplished or happy. Like getting into a freshly made bed with clean sheets - there's nothing better! And that makes for an interesting equations:
doing something (requires an input of energy) --> positive energy (and usually more than the input energy required and longer lasting)
(In other words, it takes more effort to change something than to do nothing and leave it, but it feels so much better)
And it's that idea that has energised me to make further changes in my life, because the ones that I have already made make me feel so good. And I find myself doing things now towards further changes without even having to find the input energy. And I think that's because I am anticipating the positive feeling that will be the reward rather than concentrating on having to put in the energy required to make that change at the beginning (which normally I would focus on).
But the other thing that I have discovered is that there's a maintainence energy required in order to *keep* doing whatever the change is that you have achieved. And this is the bit that relates back to the I Will Be Happy When Game. Because I think that maybe I thought that when you make a change in lifestyle (to the "better" one), like the Getting of the Perfect Guy, that's it. You're just happy and everything is just lovely and you now have this new lifestyle that just ... what? But that's totally unrealistic. So for example, I want to lose the rest of my excess weight this year and get into running. But what is dawning on me is that when you get to the goal weight and you become a runner, that's not the end of the book, close it and pop it back on the shelf. No, you have to constantly maintain the new eating and exercise habits. In an ongoing way.
I dunno, maybe this is another of those "and they lived happily ever after" remnants in my psyche that I have to find, take out into the light and then destroy. This idea that when I get to this elusive "perfect life", I can what? Sit down and have a cup of tea and enjoy it? I'm not sure I'm explaining this well. But I guess what I mean is ... I never really thought that when I finally get to the place I want to go, there would be just as much ongoing work to do there as there is to get there.
ETA: I should also add that sometimes a list is just a tool to get you to where or who you want to be. Like, I've noticed that the last few days I have been completing tasks on lists but not because they are on the list and rather because I wanted them to done. And that at some point, I guess I won't need the lists to direct my actions at all. Or is that dreaming? Maybe I won't need them for reading and crafting and those sorts of things, once everything gets back on track.