One of my favorite reads of 2018 was Andrew Sean Greer’s hilarious book called LESS. It is a laugh out loud book that has left me thinking about it for a long time. What matters in life? A work-life balance is elusive if work comprises a good chunk of what is in fact LIFE. This year I have one all encompassing New Year’s Resolution. A resolution that that I’m not even certain is achievable by me.
- Do Less.
I have finally come to the conclusion that more is not better. More is exhausting and never allows for completion, no matter how hard I am running. It also has a capacity to suck the joy out of life. I am a writer and consumer of lists. Things to do to get in shape. People to call. Books to read. Places to go before I die. Errands to complete. Things to do before I finish the school year. The month. The week. The day. Before I get up from my desk. Goals, tasks and projects.
It all sounds very exhausting. It is. I have loved early mornings and delighted in late nights for most of my life. As a child, my biggest challenge on long summer visits to see my father and step-mother, was staying in bed long enough to not get in trouble in the morning. As I got older, I loved to read and dance and socialize late into the night. However, as my Nanny Keenan reported, time moves faster as you get older. And the lists move beyond fun to include many things that need to be done but do not fill my heart with joy. I arrive home exhausted and can barely get up from the couch after dinner and an episode of Modern Family.
Ultimately the things I end up doing are not even on my list. They are the things that jump up in front of me and require my immediate attention. The time left over does not allow me to derive a sense of accomplishment from list completion. I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about the multitude of things not yet done. Before I know it, I become a slave to my “Things To Do” list, and people are commenting on why I’m sending emails at 2:30 am. Weekends are easily consumed trying to catch up.
This year, I aspire to change all of that. The goal is not just DO LESS but to be JOYFUL DOING LESS. To prioritize the things that matter most. What are the things that require my undivided attention? How is my attention to the task at hand going to make the biggest difference? To my health? To my well-being? To my relationships? To my integrity? To the functioning of my school? To my learning? To my experience of joy in daily life?
The quest is to NOT to get lost in the minutia. To engage in the things that matter over the long haul. Yes, I still have a goal to read 100 books this year. I didn’t make the target last year. Not because I couldn’t, but because I limited my reading to way too many books that I figured I SHOULD read. This year, I’m blowing that open. I still have a plan to get in better shape and relieve stress through exercise. I will take the time to do the ENTIRE circuit around Stanley Park on my bike. I’ll take the weekend to go skiing. When I check off those items on the list, I will feel PURE JOY and NO GUILT. I still aspire to actively participate in the BC Principal Vice Principal Association Committees, Book Clubs, the Wild About Vancouver Steering Committee, write more and embrace other sources of new learning as well. Learners and learning energize me. I also aspire to spend more time with students, teachers, parents and colleagues and acknowledge it as time well spent. Emails, paperwork, and other tasks will not garner my immediate attention. Everyday, the number one thing on my list will be to do some things that bring me joy. I will invest in the people and things that I enjoy. I will accept that I can’t do everything today. I will do less.