Honest and focused

I’m a planner. Always have been. I generally fit everything into little mental compartments of: this needs to be done, this can wait, this I must think about, this is way overdue.You should see my office, I track my to do’s in three ways: a whiteboard, an electronic calendar and an old fashioned paper agenda. All three list the exact same tasks, but help me focus in different ways.

Before children I was very good with my mental checklists, mostly because things fell easily and quickly into the this is done compartment. It satisfied me to work toward complete. In many ways, it still does. I am the kind of person who needs to identify a course of action, plan it, stick to it, and check it off when complete. To me, that’s progress. Since I had children my mental lists have gone awry. This is partly because of the constant exhaustion. I can’t think beyond the immediate, so planning has taken a back seat. But also because I’m less focused on the tasks themselves. I’m learning to let a lot of things go.

My diminishing need to track progress is true, in all but one place. I’ve tackled project finding me with my usual organized determination. When I first wrote about my journey earlier this year, I did so knowing that committing to it in words would force me to see it through. I said I would examine my life inside out and that’s what I’ve been doing, both here, and in several other ways. My promise served not only as commitment to examine myself, but also as a starting point from which to measure my progress.

I’m not ready to do any measuring, this was never meant to be a journey with an end date. It was meant to be the catalyst for a new way of thinking and living my life so that I could feel more fulfilled and content. And I am more content than I have been in a very long time. But that contentment isn’t absolute. I still have bad days, personal challenges and demons to slay. Some I have shared here, some I will share as I continue to write. When I share something here it feels like a step forward, but also a step back. Each time I uncover a part of myself I also uncover a sea of new questions and considerations. It comes from the thinking and writing, but it also comes from the perspectives of those who choose to share and offer guidance through comments.

My writing is providing me with a process, a process that I can count on. A process that I can control. It’s setting down thoughts and making them real. Sometimes our thoughts take over, they control us. I know this well. The things going on in our heads can be difficult to articulate out loud. Writing is the perfect in-between. It feels like neutral ground. It feels like a safe place.

Even this post, which seems so random and without real purpose is allowing me to tick off something in my mind. I’m recording progress. The writing makes my thoughts real. It assigns importance and value in a way that I didn’t know how to before.

If you are a regular reader you may have noticed that I try to come back to project finding me in some way each week. I do this to give life to this important journey regularly. It keeps me on track and moving forward. My writing is keeping me honest and focused.

My new found joy is precarious. Of this I am certain. Someone recently told me that will never face the cliff the same as I once did again, because this new part of  me cannot be undone. I might slip and struggle, but have only to remind myself what I have learned.


I want to believe it, but I’m not so easily convinced. I’m skeptical because my progress has been so quick. And while I want to be a glass half full kind of person, I still remember the way I felt, the memories are fresh and keep me on my toes. I think this is a good thing. It’s the reason I’m writing this post. I’m categorizing for future reference. I’m laying down for posterity each and every step I take so that I don’t forget.

So here I am. Creating a few new mental compartments, acknowledging the plan of action, showing progress. It’s the rational side of my brain keeping me in check. And that’s okay. My emotional side has been strong lately, I need to give my rational side a little room to flex every once in a while too.

Image: ‘Analog‘ via a Creative Commons license.


16 thoughts on “Honest and focused

  1. Hyacynth says:

    You know, I feel like sometimes when I grow too fast that I question if I really grew or if I just kind of have temporarily morphed into a new habit that may not stick. But either way, it serves a purpose, doesn't it? It's just that we're ever-growing and always morphing into something new based on each experience. Also, could I borrow some of that logical from you? I've been so emotional lately, I'm exhausted. {As you can maybe tell from this sporadicly thoughted comment.}

  2. Amber says:

    I think there's nothing wrong with using your rational brain. I am a planner, too. I really LIKE having a plan. And so I create one, not to limit me, but to focus me. If I didn't like it, it would be a different story.

  3. Rudri says:

    I am with you on the plan part Christine. It is trying to learn to act with grace when things don't go according to plan – that is my struggle.

  4. Alita- Da Mainiacs says:

    I don't plan as much as I day dream. Reality is usually one step away from something I should be planning. I wish I had your discipline. Your discipline sounds like chocolate covered moon beams to me. I so want to have the frame of mind to make bigger plans. However my mind only works in an abstract kind of way these days. I have goals, but I'm not too unkind to myself I don't accomplish all of them. Just as long as I accomplish most of them.

  5. Kate says:

    I understand so much of what you're saying! I am a planner too, but all too often focus on the undone and what slipped through in my planning – leaving me feeling disorganized and scattered. Writing helps. Not just lists, but writing about thoughts and feelings too. Sometimes we move fast, sometimes we jump forwards only to hop back. It is all progress.

  6. ShannonL says:

    Good job! Keep it up, write when you need to about *what* you need to. Every little bit helps. Do you go back and read some of your older posts to give you a boost or reminder sometimes?

  7. Chantal says:

    I need to be more of a planner. I am more of a "whatever happens happens" kind of person, which has me often stuck in a neverland of not knowing where to start.

  8. Nicki says:

    I have always been a planner. Even when – or maybe even more so – the kids were all little. It was my only way to keep my sanity. I have, since most of the kids are grown and out of the house now, become less of a planner. I have learned to embrace spontaneity.I applaud you for setting out a goal – especially an open-ended one – and then measuring it and checking in. Goals that do not get revisited (I think I am slipping into corporate mode today)are useless.

  9. hannahkaty.com says:

    I believe this may be the first time I have come across your blog but I absolutely adore it already. You are a great writer, your words speak to me and have given me something to think about for the morning as I sip my brew.Thank you.Best,Hannah Katy

  10. Justine says:

    "I'm laying down for posterity each and every step I take so that I don't forget." And you absolutely should because this is big. And this is you. And we're here because we love these words you provide us here, and more than that, we adore the person behind these words.To be able to witness your progress and your journey is an honor – thank you for sharing this with us.

  11. evaevolving says:

    "Contentment isn't absolute." You are so wise, Christine. Contentment is a moving target, something we are always pursuing and re-defining. Once we think we've reached it, we discover nuances we hadn't noticed before. But that's okay. This process teaches us more about ourselves, about the nature of contentment. And that's a worthwhile journey, I think.

  12. Stacia says:

    Our emotional side can always use a rational sidekick (and vice versa). Glad you're taking both into account. And the metaphor of the cliff is so poignant, I think. In life, it seems that we're always on the precipice of leaping to something bigger or standing still momentarily to regroup.

  13. becca says:

    I am one of those people with all of those planners that you have but cannot stick with any of them. I wish I was a better planner, better organizer but alas, I am who I am. A non focused, confused, fly by the seat of my pants, crazy person! And it's so frustrating! I'm so often buried in my own confused head! But you inspire me Christine. You really do. Your Project Finding Me is amazing and you should be so proud. You're steps forward, however small or big they may be, are progress indeed. Progress I wish I had outlined for myself so I could be achieving as much as you!

  14. theycallmejane says:

    Oh, how I envy your style. It reminds me of how I used to be – before children. That you're still able to project, plan, organize and compartmentalize (even in a limited way) still is amazing to me. My hero!

  15. Amber says:

    Reading this was like reading my own thoughts. Planning. I plan but often get so caught up in the plans that I can't actually enjoy the supposed relaxation that comes with it. Yet when I check something off the To-Do list, I feel like I am winning something. I'm not sure what, but I'm beating the system. Anyway. You are awesome. Thought you'd like to know.

  16. Wendy L says:

    I have never been a big planner, I always had the usual list of things to do and things I wanted to accomplish in life.Now I no longer have a plan, except to get thru today and hope tomorrow is a little less chaotic. Kids can do that I suppose. I enjoy every moment of it exausting as it can be. I wouldn't go back for a second.Maybe in 20 years or so I will be back to planning a bit, untill then I will enjoy the crazy schedule I have.

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