The Bigger Things.

As of now, my days are scheduled fairly clearly. My primary objective is to study for and pass my licensing exam. In addition to this, I fit exercise, letter writing, reading, and cooking into my days. However, my mind is starting to wonder about my post-exam life and the bigger things.

One of the most powerful exercises I have ever participated in was during my studies at The Institute For Integrative Nutrition. During our first weekend session, Debbie Ford led us in a practice of writing out our lives. First we wrote about three things we wanted to accomplish tomorrow, then a week into the future, then three months, then a year, five years, ten years, twenty years, and thirty years. None of us knew how far she would make us imagine; I remember hearing some sighs in the audience and watching people put their pens down. It was a difficult process, but it was important and revelatory for me. This now reminds me of an exercise I found later, namely Stephen Covey’s (founder of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) idea that we should craft our own eulogy that attends to four areas: family, friends, work, and community. This relates to the second principle: Begin with the end in mind.

I am neither a proponent nor denier of self-help gurus and works. I am an advocate of doing what works. What has always worked for me is having a vision. Purpose and meaning are of utmost importance to me, and I get frustrated and feel defeated when I have too many days that aren’t assisting in the movement towards some greater goal.

The thing is that right now, my goals are a little muddled. There have been drastic changes – destructions and reformations – in my life since I did that initial life outline. I engaged in a couple of true revisions where I tried to rearrange the details of my life’s outline in a concrete way. As I have again experienced a great, unexpected shift, I think it is time to do that process again.

Part of the problem is that because I’ve experienced all of these changes, I feel that my mind may try too hard to account for all the potential future game changes. I feel that there are endless formulations, and choosing a specific direction depends on multiple factors. So, what I’m trying to do now is sift through all these ideas and find the consistencies. What are the things that have always mattered and been attractive to me? What are the areas that I always want to pursue? What is always meaningful? Also, I think it is time to look at those longer-term goals – the ten year and twenty year ones – and figure out how I can attend to those today.

One goal that always remains: Take more and better photos

An important topic of discussion at Integrative Nutrition was working with clients that fear making big life decisions (like choosing a career path) because they worry about making the wrong choice and being locked in forever. (Side note: check out this recent New York Times article on Decision Fatigue that includes the etymological link between decide and homicide). We were encouraged to assist our clients in looking at their long-term goals and remind them that what they choose today does not mean they have to do that same thing in twenty years. We have to be gentle with ourselves and remember that it is ok to readjust. However, the bigger things – our values, dreams, and purpose – those don’t change and they are important guides for us in the difficult times.

So, it is time again to consider my values, dreams, and purpose and craft some plans.

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