Living life in the long term

I’ve done a lot of restructuring in my life in the past several days. Obviously, my blog template has changed. I’ve shifted from my dated, tables-based layout to a CSS layout with an external stylesheet and content elements pulled in via PHP. It’s a change I’ve wanted to make since 2004, and I’ll be documenting the process in a later post.

While I was at it, I went ahead and changed a few other things. I gave up on Google Reader, for one. I’d always felt like I should be using it, since so many others sing its praises, and awhile back I made the switch. However, I was never happy with the way Reader’s blogroll functionality worked. I shifted back primarily because that would allow me to use Bloglines’ nice, organized blogroll again. But then I actually went to view my feeds in Bloglines…and something amazing happened.

I started reading.

When that happened I realized that I hadn’t been reading for a very long time.

Oh, here and there I’d read a blog post in Google Reader. But mostly I’d skim the headlines and mark things as read to get them out of my sight. And I had stopped reading news completely.

Something about being in Bloglines again, seeing my feeds organized in the nice folders I’d made, gave me fresh energy. I felt comfortable, yet energized.

I read.

I read blogs. I read news. I looked at photos and paintings. I began to reconnect with my intellectual side. I’d felt vaguely that it had been absent, but up until I was actually absorbing and analyzing new information, I hadn’t fully comprehended the depths of my recent superficiality.

One apparent cause behind my slow slip into mindlessness was my choice to abandon my familiar tool, Bloglines. At work the next day, I suddenly recognized another cause.

I haven’t been pacing myself.

I’ve always had the problem of throwing myself 100% at whatever I’m doing, finishing up quickly and spectacularly. This works for some projects, like a piece of writing, or an infrequent chore. Applying this overenthusiasm to things like exercise and daily work does get a lot accomplished in the short term, but ultimately it leaves me tired, frustrated, burned out, trapped.

I realized that if I want to improve myself, I have to slow down and give myself the gifts of time and energy. I can’t leave work tired, brainless, unable to do much of anything besides zonk out in front of the TV. There’s no room in a life like that for my personal projects: reading, writing, photography, building ideas, getting healthy. There’s no enjoyment in a life like that.

I have to start looking at the things I need to accomplish, all of them, including work, in the long term. I have to step back and evaluate priorities, and string them out along a timeline in a reasonable manner–a manner that gives me some breathing room.

I’ve been reading more, writing more, and thinking more lately. I’ve also been happy. It’s not the euphoria that leads to a depressive crash, either. It’s a general sense of wellness, of purpose. It’s the desire to better myself, and the confidence that I can do it.

This is how I want to continue living.

3 replies on “Living life in the long term”

Nice post! I may check out Bloglines sometime…I use a page in My Yahoo to alert me when there are new posts on blogs I’m following and then read the entry at the blog itself. Old fashioned and time consuming, perhaps, but that’s just my habit.

My biggest revelation along these lines was what I learned in several workshops within the period of a few months: multi-tasking is impossible. You can’t focus enough on any single task to get something done so you suddenly have lots of little half-finished projects sitting in front of you. I am the QUEEN of half-finished projects, but this really gave me some clarity. One thing at a time, and now, make sure I pace myself and give myself enough time and energy to complete whatever the project is. Thanks Heather!

PS I really like the new layout- it looks great.

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