Thanks to everyone who posted suggestions for reclaiming my life from my to-do lists. Talking through it helped me figure out what I was already doing that was working and what else I can focus on.
That post was one piece of a larger existential crisis I've been having the past few days. Several factors have recently caused me to ask, "What am I doing with my life?" more times than I would care to in the past few days:
- Spending a few weeks looking at my vision board has brought contrasts between life-as-it-is and my-ideal-life into sharp focus. I see comfort, fun, and relaxation in front of me, and I find myself working, working, working all the time. This sparked my last post.
- I've recently gotten very into Ramit Sethi's site, just in time for him to start a new focus on finding your dream job. Perfect, since I'm launching this new side business in job search coaching, right? But then he asks hard questions, like what the key takeaway someone would have from my resume is. How do I want people to describe me with only 10 seconds of information?
- I'm doing the SITS girls' 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Challenge, which has been awesome so far but has necessarily raised some identity issues. I'm comfortable saying, "I don't have a niche" but those of us who are niche-less were challenged to ask ourselves, "Why do you blog? What is your purpose? What are your goals?"
After some reflection about why I create the goals I do, I've determined that this blog is a microcosm of my life. In other words, the reasons I write here are the same reasons I do anything that's important to me.
With that in mind, I want to share the three big things that I think drive me -- Challenge, Confidence, and Connection -- and how they relate to both this blog and my life as a whole. Then I'll ask for your thoughts on whether I'm meeting these goals here.
- In my life: In the sense of learning, I have always loved being challenged. I took programming classes the past year and stuck with it even when it kicked my butt. It's important to me to be in what Gretchen Rubin calls "an atmosphere of growth," one of her keys to happiness. And in another sense of the word challenge, the more that I get to know myself and identify my beliefs and what I'm passionate about, the more I feel comfortable challenging other people on things they say that are ignorant or rude.
- On this blog: A lot of what I write is putting my opinions out there on various topics (religion, sex education, gay marriage), and that's for two reasons. One, I know that my experience is limited, and I want other people to challenge me when I make assumptions or haven't considered every angle in forming my views. Two, I want to challenge other people to think through these issues, either to reflect on something they may not have thought about before, or to consider another perspective on an issue.
- In my life: I realized that a big motivator for much of the work that I do is to instill confidence in other people. In my editing work, I decided not to seek freelance work from publishing houses and instead to stick to working one-on-one with aspiring authors, because I love helping them feel more confident in their manuscripts and in their ability to get published. And the reason I'm starting job search coaching for new grads is because of how much I loved giving my college students confidence in their own skills and ability to land a job. Instilling confidence in others is definitely a driver for me.
- On this blog: My "tips and advice" category is similar to the feedback I give my authors and students, about what works and what doesn't, except it's based on my own experience with life in general. Whether it's how to network at conferences or how to argue with your spouse, I'm motivated to alleviate anxiety and help people feel more confident in a variety of situations. I also think people feel confident when they feel less alone, whether it's that someone else shares their opinions or just that someone has the same struggles. I know I do.
- In my life: Several of my happiness resolutions last year stemmed from a desire for greater connection with the people in my life, whether it was sending an e-mail every day, saying yes to social events, or having one lunch date a month. The interviews I did with my family members last year, and my goal to get back into genealogy this year, come from a desire to connect to my roots, to feel more linked to my ancestors. And I am continually trying to find ways to stay connected to God and to Mike, which is why praying with Mike every night is something I will continue to resurrect no matter how many times we let it fall to the wayside.
- On this blog: You, my readers, are the main reason I'm still doing this! It's not just about being challenged on my political views or giving people advice, it's about sharing my life with others and having them share theirs with me in return. I feel blessed to have readers who are supportive of me, who give me advice when I ask for, and who give me a kick in the butt when I need it. So many of you I consider my friends. And that motivates me to keep writing!
Thinking through these motivators in my life has given me clarity in terms of defining my priorities and feeling confident (ha) in the projects I'm pursuing this year. These probably don't cover everything, but they've given me a better structure within which to ask, "What am I doing with my life? And what do I want to be doing?"
And because I feel most people are motivated by challenge and connection, it's the confidence one that's stuck with me as perhaps being a particular calling of mine.
So to you, dear reader, I ask these questions, and I hope you'll take some time to really think about them and respond. (The second one may be its own post!)
How has Faith Permeating Life succeeded in the areas of Challenge, Confidence, and Connection, and how could it be better?
What motivates you in your life?