Lately I’ve been reading the book ‘Everything That Remains’, by Joshua Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus, the guys behind TheMinimalists.com. So far, I love everything about the book, although I wish they’d minimize their tendency to imprecate, a bit. 😉 I think the format is great, and the footnotes by Ryan are hilarious, and useful. I’ll be writing a more in depth review of the book later, when I am completely done reading it, my Kindle says I’m only 57% of the way through, which leaves me wanting to stay on the couch all day and devour the other 43%. I know a book is great when it inspires me to change something, or try something new, and I’m not even finished with it yet. Hence, this post.
Here’s my situation. I’ve recently become somewhat stagnant, it seems in most areas of my life. A general feeling of malaise. Not that I have been unproductive, but my feelings about things are stagnant. I’m still going through the motions, exercising, decluttering, working, writing, playing with the kids, cooking healthy meals, but I’ve felt a sort of disconnect from all of it. I’ve lost a little of the passion and excitement that I had with it.
As I’ve been reading their book, I’ve realized why.
First, it’s normal to not be passionately living Every. Single. Day. Some days are just another day to appreciate, to live, but it doesn’t have to be spectacular or life changing. My expectations have changed in realizing that each day that is filled with contentment, is a successful, happy day.
Second, our motivations change over time. As we reach different stages in life, our reasons for doing things change, and that’s okay. What we want to make sure is that whatever our reasons are, they are ‘Adding Value’ to our lives. Going through the motions of things that USED to add value, is not going to help you in the current moment. Not that you have to change your motions, but reevaluating your reasons may be needed, after which you may need to change what you are doing, or how you are doing things.
Third, sometimes being goal oriented can backfire. In their book, they discuss specifically the concept of goals, and of NOT having goals. With that section, they hit the ‘nail on the head’ so to speak, for my recent feelings. I have always had goals, always been reaching and working towards something in life. Once I get there, I move on to the next one. At the beginning of this year though, I decided to nix the goals and go with 30 day intentions instead. You can read about it here. With the absence of goals, and the ability to complete my intentions here and there throughout the year, not on any type of schedule, I feel as though I have lost my productivity, my motivation. I’ve cultivated some really great habits already, meaningful ones, however, I’m not working towards creating any new ones at the moment, so I feel stagnant.
The epiphany that I had over the last few days of reading, is that I need to embrace my goalessness, take some time to live right NOW, not for some future accomplishment. Set aside my expectations for myself, and do what comes naturally to me at this moment. Don’t think about whether I spent 30 minutes with each of my children today, or if I was able to fit in 3 miles of running instead of 1.5 or whether I responded to that email that isn’t an emergency anyway. I need to take some time to just be in the moment, that is when my motivation will naturally show up and I will be my most productive self. I am also feeling some excitement returning for long lost projects that I wanted to ‘complete’, but haven’t had the time. Now, I just want to work on them, not necessarily finish them by any specific date, but the motivation has returned, just a little. Am I giving up my 30 day intentions? Absolutely not, I’m just not thinking about what I ‘think’ the end results should be when I do get around to doing them.
Giving myself permission (or Joshua and Ryan giving me permission) to live without daily and long term goals, or any expectations of myself, is proving to make me more motivated to create, more naturally productive, and more intentional throughout the day, as I am only doing those things that truly matter at the time.