The Bare Essentials List (It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time)

While I'm at home on brief hiatus, I'm thinking I ought to use the time for something productive besides visiting people in offices with degrees and titles. Obviously, I'm supposed to be resting, and I don't have the energy for a whole lot else, so I won't be doing any of the filing, organizing and deep cleaning I've wanted to do now for months. But I can do some mental filing, organizing and deep cleaning.

I think I need to withdraw from school this semester. Everyone kept trying to talk me into keeping a full load - "you can do it," they said, "you've only got two more semesters to go. Get it done so you don't have it hanging over your head." And, I will admit, at the beginning of the term, it seemed like a good idea. But that's what I've got to get away from - this whole concept of "it seemed like a good idea at the time." 'Cause, let's face it, there's a LOT of stuff that seemed like a good idea at the time, and was a lot of fun, but caused me a lot of unnecessary frustration. I'm not saying I need to abandon my spontaneity. I'm just saying I need to think a little more critically about things that could have serious ramifications.

So I asked myself, what could I have done differently, and what can I do differently from now on, so that I avoid these types of blunders in the future without turning myself into someone I'm NOT? I mean, how could I have possibly known how any of those things would turn out? Normal people with good coping skills would probably tell you it's just a "gut feeling." But since we know I'm neither normal nor good at coping, I've got to come up with a system. A little internal "checklist." Some kind of device I can use to guide my decisions and control my impulses.
Here is the device I designed. I made a list of no fewer than 5 but no greater than 10 items - "Bare Essentials" - that I require to be mostly or completely fulfilled in my life before I can consider taking on anything else of magnitude. Also - if I'm not considering taking anything else on, the basic list from which I can remove items/duties so that I can pare down when just "life in general" gets overwhelming. If, at any point, any two or more items on this list are completely or mostly neglected, I need to either pare down or decline taking on any additional goals, tasks, jobs or projects.

Using going to school this semester as an example, we can clearly see that this technique would have been a good predictor that this was not a good semester for me to go back to school. Here is the list and what I would have answered in July when considering going back to school full time. (This list subject to change at any given time.)

1. Is my house almost as clean as I'd like it to be? No way in hell.
2. Are my pets getting the care and attention I think they deserve? I'd like to clean the litterbox more and find a way to exercise Kona even though he's on crate rest.
3. Am I able to train at a minimum of 50% of my planned training schedule? Not even 30%.
4. Am I experiencing a high volume of unplanned absences from work? Not really.
5. Do I have the time to make myself at least 5 home-cooked meals a week? Some times.
6. Do I have the time to relax alone - meaning, go to yoga at least every few weeks, meditate every few days and read at least 4 magazines a month? No. I have more than 15 unread magazines, have only been to yoga twice this month and haven't meditated.
7. Do I have the time to visit at least 1 friend or family member each week? Yes.
8. Am I happy most days and able to maintain a healthy and normal (for me) level of good humor? Some times.
9. Are my medicines working and am I feeling physically strong most of the time and/or am I having a high incidence of accidents/incidents/mini-disasters? Sort of high incidence of mini-disasters.
10. Am I able to complete my chores/tasks outside of housecleaning with relatively little effort? Hell no - just paying the bills and washing the car is an effort.

So, more than 2 of my basic needs were not being met and more than half of them weren't being met well, which means I had nooo bidness taking on a full load - or any load - of classes. I have to accept complete responsibility for overwhelming myself and throwing myself into a tailspin, because if I'd had the presence of mind to examine any of these areas, there's no way I'd be where I am now.

Of course, you know that my belief is that I wouldn't go back and change anything, because even the tiniest change would make me a completely different person, and there is a purpose for me being who and what I am, even if who and what I am is damaged, incomplete, unfulfilled or just slightly "off." So that doesn't mean I'm going to stop going BALLS OUT, or having a good time, or just being plain ol' crazy ME.

Just means I'm going to exercise my ability to think a little more critically.

2 tidbits of wizdom:

Wes said...

Yea! Simple :-) Even when you are doing a lot of different, sometimes difficult things, if you break them down into their simple parts, they are easier to manage. Rock on!!!

Tea said...

Well, I never went to school and work full time. The most I could handle was part time, and that was difficult.

Decide on what is truly important to you, and go with it. From your list, family and friends have the top priority. I think YOU should be your top priority, everything else is second.

Not everyone will like it, but they'll get used to it.