Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Does the path to happiness actually lead to my own personal goals?

No real relevance to the post, I just love orchids!

I was sitting in a coffee shop earlier today (enjoying an extra strong coffee while my youngest snoozed in her pram) reading a magazine while I overheard a conversation at a table nearby.  I should note here that I wasn’t eves dropping – the conversation was loud – like a proud invitation to listen in…  And I can kind of understand why.  I think it was an interview between a reporter of some description and one of the shop owners – an attractive young woman probably in her early thirties.  I didn’t pay that much attention (other than my usual tut over people speaking so unnecessarily loudly) until I heard the woman say ‘I think people generally fail to implement’…  and then went on to say that ‘people’ (obviously referring to those other than herself) talk a lot about what they want to do but fail to put an action plan into place to get there. 

I think she may have been talking about me…

Don’t get me wrong – I’m very good at planning and implementing the bigger picture stuff – like having children and moving to Australia.  I’m just not very good at the smaller more personal stuff.  This week I’ve started to wonder why that is.  Over dinner with a friend during the week I was asked why I don’t place a greater value on myself and understand my own strengths and general greatness.  I must admit I don’t know the answer.  I know what I’m good at and do understand where my strengths lay.  I’m just not very good at the PR. 

Maybe that’s it?  Maybe I’m not confident enough to take the personal stuff forward?  Or maybe I just haven’t valued it up until now.  My focus has been so firmly on my family, on what they need – the ‘we’ that I’ve forgotten to find time for the ‘I’.  Sometimes the ‘I’ feels a bit selfish.  Or perhaps I just don’t have a particularly clear idea about what my greater personal goal is..?

I watched a TED Talks video this week by Sheryl Sandberg (COO Facebook).  Sheryl raised two points that have really lingered with me.  The first of these  - ‘if you’re going to leave your children to go back to work, it had better be for something good.’  The other around the hesitance of women to really self promote and push themselves forward for their skills and experience (generally downplaying their experience).  I must confess that there is a big part of me that had started to wonder if the best thing to do with my next job would be to find something 9-5 with minimal care so that I could easily walk away at the end of the day and focus on my family.  But I like Sheryl’s point.  I have two beautiful, captivating daughters – if I am going to miss any part of their lives (even for a minute) it had better be something great.  As a mother of girls I have always felt the weight of responsibility in being a strong role model for them.  What better way to be a role model than to do something I love and be passionate about it every day?

And so the bigger question – what do I want to do?  What will give me enough joy and fuel to make it OK to be apart from my girls?  And how do I shape that into a future plan?

I don’t have the answer.

I did however start reading a book yesterday called the ‘Happiness Project’ by Gretchen Rubin.  I should clarify here that I love to buy books, but I’m generally not as great at reading them.  I tend to buy them, flick through and pick out a few bits, nod my head and then put them down to collect dust.  So far I haven’t been able to put this book down.  Gretchen spends the book talking about the ‘pursuit of happiness’ for want of a better term (or less used one).  To do this she reflects on a number of great theorists over the ages and takes pieces of their advice and thinking.  The approach that really caught my eye is that she takes on one area of focus each month and works on activities that will improve her happiness in that space. 

It occurs to me that if I can find true happiness within myself (not dependent on my girls or my husband) – to understand what it is that really makes me happy, perhaps that will lead me to what I want to do next…

My first step is to follow Gretchen’s wise advise in the Happiness Project and focus on my physical and mental energy.  And so we come to commitment time (if you haven’t guessed I am using you dear reader to make myself accountable for my declarations).

For all of April I will….

Complete tasks as they come up (I generally have 3 or 4 niggly little things that have a way of weighing on my mind)
Exercise 4 times a week (for a minimum of 20 minutes) – this gives me great space to think and contemplate
Stop and centre myself 3 times a day (focus on my breath and let as much of my ‘stuff’ as I can go)
Turn the TV off unless there is something on that I really want to watch
Give my body the nutrition it needs (chocolate may be what it wants, not it’s sure as hell not what needs…)

Perhaps this increased physical and mental energy will aide in giving some clarity over my ‘what next’…  It would be a real shame to waste this potential clean slate that moving continent provides.

1 comment:

  1. Kate, I have just read the past few blogs and can so relate to each and every one of them. I love that you gain inspiration from other forms as it gives us all different paths to follow if we so chose. Please keep writing, I am enjoying them immensely.