This summer, I spent three weeks away journaling and writing and thinking about time. Thinking about my past – my upbringing, my school self, my university self, my self of the past year. And I realised I was simultaneously constantly wishing my life would be different and envisioning a different me somewhere in the future, constantly trying to become that overnight and failing miserably, and constantly becoming so demotivated that I gave up more often than I tried.Once upon a time, I thought I would live forever. I don’t mean this in some poetic way, a “live forever” mentality of youth. I mean it very literally, for various faith reasons I won’t explain here. I thought one day the world would be perfect, with no sickness or death or cruelty, and humans would live forever there. Once I stopped believing in that faith, came the necessary realisation that forever no longer existed, and this life was all I had.It wasn’t until this summer though, four years after I left that belief behind, that I finally considered what that meant: this life is all I have. Every day that passes is another day gone that I will never get back. It’s easy to push today into tomorrow when you think you have forever. But really, every day I have is precious. If I get demotivated today, so be it, but that doesn’t mean I should give up on tomorrow.
I’m an overthinker, a worrier, a daydreamer with her head stuck either in the past or the future. I’m very rarely here, in the now. But in a quest to be here, be present in this moment, I’ve started a new habit that’s helped make every day better. I always finish the day feeling a little happier than I started.
At the end of every day, I write down what I’ve accomplished. The trick is not to think big. Maybe I got out of bed before midday for the first time in ages. Maybe I did some laundry instead of waiting until I’d run out of clean underwear to do laundry. Maybe I cleaned my kitchen after dinner instead of leaving mess for tomorrow. Maybe I read my book on the tube instead of staring into space. Maybe I left drinks with friends at a reasonable time instead of missing the last tube home and feeling rotten the next day. Maybe I cooked a meal instead of having cereal. Maybe I didn’t cancel an arrangement with a friend as I might have done once.
The point is, I did something, instead of doing nothing and leaving it until “tomorrow”. They’re little things, and sometimes they’re big things, but they’re things that I’ve accomplished in my day that are worth noticing and worth pausing for a moment to be proud of them. I finish my day feeling like that day was worth it – that day was productive in the largest of ways, because of the smallest of things.
* For more on habits, go visit zenhabits.net, one of the most inspiring blogs and one of my favourites for many years. Leo Baubata writes some beautiful, life-changing, seriously thought-provoking posts.