In the past year, my life has taken sudden and unexpected turns in many ways, from classes to career choices. I feel that I’ve managed to maintain a relatively strong sense of self and of creative direction throughout all of this, while leaving room for change and opportunity, and I’d really like to share my strategy with all of you: I check in with myself.
For me personally, these check ins take the form of list-making supported by yoga and meditation. In the past, I’ve also created private video diaries as well as written journal entries and poetry. Realistically, no matter the method, if I am continuously setting time aside to take stock of my life and my values, then I am moving towards goals that suit my core motivations.
Pushing wholeheartedly for progress while leaving space for unexpected changes can sometimes feel like an impossible task. The tool that currently allows me to feel most reassured that my goals suit my current situation and abilities is list-making. Every time that I begin to feel caught up in a tidal wave of seemingly meaningless tasks, I sit down and remind myself of my priorities. These priorities allow me to re-centre myself and continue on with my day to day tasks with a sense of purpose. I tend to create lists of 6-8 priorities, from two or more areas of my life (for example, career and platonic relationships). The priorities are not centred around material possessions or specific people, but rather the values and motivations that they represent. For example, I could say that I enjoy having my own apartment, but that desire is simply a surface manifestation of a fierce independent streak. On my list, I would say that I value my independence, and in my day to day life I would remind myself that by working hard I am supporting my ability to move freely through the world and make my own decisions.
Continuously collecting a list of values, and translating them into motivations, has given me the gift of agency over my own life in ways that I could never have imagined. In the past year, I have learned that unless a difficult and stressful task will further a goal that reflects my core values, it is no longer worth pursuing. I do not feel that this willingness to abandon “the plan” and start anew, infinite times if necessary, makes me flaky or unpredictable. In fact, I feel more in control of my own happiness than ever. This wild and wonderful journey of life is entirely my own, so long as I have the courage to make it so.