Saturday, January 2, 2010

It's the Little Stuff that Makes the Difference: Micro Goals

Macro Goal: Be more in the moment and present for my family...

As much as I'm a planner by nature, I still seem to live a lot of my life by the seat of my pants. I've moved through each phase as the opportunity presented itself. When I resist this way of doing things I seem to suffer. I had a career for many years past when I should have changed course, but like the old clothes in my closet that are sadly out of step, and regrettably several sizes off of reality, I stubbornly held on. High levels of toxic stress ensued, which would have been hilarious in my epic inability to acknowledge when to fold the cards, if it just weren't so pathetic. I nearly lost my marriage, my health, and really when I look back on it, myself.

It's tragic how one keeps praying for answers and resolutions, and because one doesn't want to see what the answers and resolutions truly are, whatever force one wishes to call it (for me it's God) seems to have to ratchet up the means of getting through. I always joke with my friends that God had to allow my life to become seriously miserable before I was willing to have my a-HA moment because I am Stubborn, with a capital S. But the old adage is true: people don't change or stop until they want to. Or to put it another way, until the pain of NOT doing something is greater than the pain of actually doing it, they are staying put.

So, I finally unplugged my ears, stopped the incessant "la-la-la-la-ing" to block out what I didn't want to hear, and listened to my life. And, it was like nails on a chalkboard cringe-worthy. The platform I was standing on was burning right up to my toes. So without a clear plan, I jumped.

As it turns out I jumped straight into a veritable ocean of love. The very day I walked away, God saw fit to green light the thing I had wanted and secretly feared would not ever happen: I got pregnant. Now my in laws, who waited a decade for us to get married, and had pretty much written off grandchildren from their uber-driven daughter-in-law, now shake their heads in unbelieving bemusement as my husband and I, having just welcomed a second child, talk about possibly adding a third. I'm just really not capable of slight course corrections, it's an all out spinning of the wheel. My husband has learned to hold on, but (God love him) has always had a penchant for the wild ride. I don't dive off of physical cliffs, but the emotional ones are treacherously steep and rocky affairs.

To be able to do things with such single-minded focus, or dare I say obsession, you have to be a little selfish, which brings me to the macro goal of being more present for my family. When I left my former career I had to mourn; it had truly been a consuming passion in every sense of the word. As happy as I am being with my kids 24/7, I struggle with the wake of that full throttle existence which feels so normal to me. I used to have dozens of people report to me, and now I have two (OK sometimes three when you count my husband in my particularly bossy moments). I struggle with questions of purpose and anxiety of quantifying my contributions.

I never planned to be a stay at home mom, but the opportunity presented itself, and so here I am. It's been an adjustment, mostly happy. Now when I go to the grocery store, I usually run into several people I know. In so many ways my life is so much more full, not only with my growing family, but with community, something that was sorely lacking in my workaholic myopic life. (Did I mention I actually went to Workaholics Anonymous meetings for a while? Bought the book and everything. I was THAT bad!)

In that seismic shift I also resolved to do the one thing that I had yearned for and feared as well: write. And I did it! I actually started to draw a tiny paycheck from my writing ability. And it was and is thrilling...I want more of that! But as is my way, I am very easily drawn into that very selfish space of single minded focus, and that has created another conflict: quality of my time and energy with my husband and kids.

I struggle with the boundaries between doing that which makes my blood sing (write), and what makes my heart beat (my family). I need them both. When I am spending time with my kids, I struggle to make sure my focus doesn't drift and become distracted by the words in my head, or by the lure of my computer to do just one more bit of checking in, and research. When I stare at the blank screen, I struggle to not allow myself an out to go do the laundry, or sweep the floor.

So here are some micro goals to support my macro goal, which can be summed up with the seemingly contradictory statement: plan in order to be in the moment.
  1. Extended work/computer time limited to when children are asleep or with husband
  2. Time spent each day focused on and listening to husband, even if he's recounting details about his shooting hobby that make me glaze over! Will go with him to the shooting range (as he's been asking FOR-ever) at least once in the next six months.
  3. Homeschooling preschool plan in place by Big Kidlet's third birthday
  4. Playtime each day with Little Kidlet (solo and included with Big Kidlet)
  5. Take one family vacation, even if it's a "stay-cation"
  6. Take one kid-free mini-break
  7. Plan gifts in advance
  8. Sex and foot rubs...nuff said
I'm stopping there because as I've said I like my lists but can get a little out of control. Just looking to get started, more will follow. I'll also post some of the daily stuff I do to support these goals along the way as well.

P.S. I did pretty well with this goal today. We spent some time building what we like to call "Noah's High Rise." Big Kidlet loved it so much, he refrained from breaking it into bits as he usually likes to do, even before I finish building. And, it still stands after a full afternoon!

Photos: all rights reserved, no reproduction without express consent

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