A thing I read

what great inconvenience

Are you willing to embrace that truly slight inconvenience — and maybe pay a few dollars more — so that a person’s job is significantly less shitty? Think about in practice: are you willing to wait five more minutes for an Uber so that, when you get in, you know that your drive has health insurance and is making a living wage? Are you willing to pay $4 more for your yoga class (YOUR YOGA CLASS!) so that your teacher, who you likely venerate, can have some semblance of the stability/peace you yourself are attempting to find BY GOING TO YOGA??? Are you willing to have slightly less so that others can have significantly more? Or, as I like to think about it, do you actually care about other people?

Lately, lots of us are thinking and talking about burnout. How our work and daily routines are making us tired and sucking the joy out of our lives. We’re starting to think about what actions we can take to alleviate the feeling of burnout in our own lives. But this article asks us to think about how our actions can create burnout in other people

In a small sense, that means respecting the boundaries of our colleagues, friends and family in a golden rule type fashion (do unto others…etc). But in a larger sense, that means buying into systems that respect those boundaries and allow us feel like real humans instead of meaningless cogs in the capitalist machine. And maybe MAYBE making a small, slightly uncomfortable impact on our own lives in an effort to make a much larger, game-changing impact on someone else’s life.

I think this idea is so important and one we don’t often think about. Don’t we all just want everything cheaper, faster, bigger? If it comes at the expense of another person’s wellbeing and financial stability, personally I’d rather have it a little more expensive, slower and smaller.

I found this article courtesy of Jocelyn K. Glei‘s newsletter which always has really great links about work, creativity, and making your life more enjoyable.

How I do goals

Everyone does goals differently. We approach them annually on January 1st or around back to school time. We fix them as permanent staples in our year or revisit and revise every few months. We have a long list of 20 aspirational to-dos or simply one big dream. I always like seeing the different ways people work on getting what they want out of life, so here’s how I do it.

I package my goals according to four major themes: work, life, learning and health (and yes, you better believe I color code them in all my list making).

Work goals encompass anything related to what I do to make money. Things like client projects, admin/billing, or working on aspirational projects I hope will someday contribute to my income.

My current work goals include:

  • Maintaining all my regularly scheduled work duties.
  • Holding myself to scheduled work blocks instead of just working when I feel like it (hello to the challenges of being your own boss and working from home!!!)
  • Exploring a few new avenues for making money and being more creative.

Life goals are things I do to maintain day to day functionality, including chores, errands, and home projects.

My current life goals include:

  • Cleaning unwanted stuff out of the house and donating or recycling it (this one is ALWAYS on my list—how do I have this much stuff??)
  • Sticking to a chore schedule so I’m not constantly frazzled by a messy house.
  • Giving a little DIY update to a few pieces of furniture I’m not totally in love with.

Learning goals include anything I’m interested in learning. That might be brushing up on skills I need for work or investigating something I might want to pursue.

My current learning goals include:

  • Doing one Creative Live course per month to keep my ideas fresh and my mind interested. Anyone else use this site? It has so much useful info for free—I love it!  
  • Reading a few chapters a week from this book to brush up some skills I need for work. 
  • Learning about managing my money and investing. This is one I’ve been putting off for a long time because it’s intimidating as hell

Health goals are my favorite because this is where I prioritize my mental and physical health. Anything that keeps me happy and healthy goes into this category, like planning trips, trying a new recipe, scheduling exercise, or making doctor appointments.

My current health goals include: 

  • Trying a new recipe once a month to keep things interesting in the kitchen. My favorite spots to find new recipes are Joy the Baker, The Kitchn, and Love & Lemons.
  • Doing fun outside fall activities like visiting the cider mill, apple picking, and going on hikes.
  • Keeping up with a weekly exercise routine that my boyfriend and I have recently embarked on together. 

How do you do goals? What are you working on right now?

How to get things done

I did a lot yesterday to prepare myself for today. I kept the house clean and made lists. I did laundry and gave my skin a face mask. I went to bed at a reasonable time and set an alarm to wake up similarly.

The lists are the most important and enjoyable preparation I do. In a yellow, college ruled spiral notebook, something leftover from when I had classes to take notes in, I wrote down every goal or to-do thing that has been living in my mental space. Everything that snagged at my anxiety as I looked around my house and my mental landscape.

I came up with 32 things. And then I organized them by category—life, work, health, learning. And then I organized them by time and energy they’d take. And then I organized them by deadline. I picked a chunk of 12 of those things that felt important and realistic to do this month, with a mixture from each category and level of time commitment, and I split them evenly and organized them neatly into three boxes—one for each week left this month. I took the tasks from the first box and split those tasks evenly across each day this week, placing them carefully on days when I could foresee my future self actually, probably, hopefully wanting to do them.

Now is the hard part. I need to follow those instructions. This is where I always fail. I think of other ways to spend my time, things that don’t check any boxes or move me forward or bring me any actual joy. I need to be more robotic and go through the list step by step. I don’t need to get distracted by the weather or my feelings or a miscellaneous thought.

It’s too early to claim any real victories, but I’ve already checked two things—the easy morning time things that I can do before I’ve brushed my teeth and had my second cup of coffee—off my first list: 1) worked on knitting a scarf that has been sitting incomplete around my house for the past three years and 2) wrote something (this).

A thing I read

Here’s a thing I read recently that I think is true:

Workism Is Making Americans Miserable

“We’ve created this idea that the meaning of life should be found in work,” says Oren Cass, the author of the book The Once and Future Worker. “We tell young people that their work should be their passion. ‘Don’t give up until you find a job that you love!’ we say. ‘You should be changing the world!’ we tell them. That is the message in commencement addresses, in pop culture, and frankly, in media, including The Atlantic.”

But our desks were never meant to be our altars. The modern labor force evolved to serve the needs of consumers and capitalists, not to satisfy tens of millions of people seeking transcendence at the office. It’s hard to self-actualize on the job if you’re a cashier—one of the most common occupations in the U.S.—and even the best white-collar roles have long periods of stasis, boredom, or busywork. This mismatch between expectations and reality is a recipe for severe disappointment, if not outright misery, and it might explain why rates of depression and anxiety in the U.S. are “substantially higher” than they were in the 1980s, according to a 2014 study.

I’ve been struggling with this a lot lately. It seems right to want to love your work and find intense meaning in it. Most of us spend the majority of our waking life at work. To do something you don’t care about for 40 hours a week seems crazy and self-defeating.

But for most of us, work isn’t fun. We might enjoy it sometimes, but even us freelancers have to go through the daily slog of email and invoicing and often mundane projects that don’t even attempt to light up our creative brains but do pay the bills.

The article sees the solution to our happiness as working less. Once our culture shifts enough to allows for fewer work hours, we’ll be able to spend more time on our friends, family, and hobbies. That seems a pretty long way off for many of us who have piles of debt and insane rent prices to contend with and a government run by conservatives who are the worst at worshiping Work. Are we doomed to be unhappy until the economy catches up with our humanity?

That’s bleak. I’m still going to try and love my work in the meantime, because even if I’m only doing my job 15 hours a week, that’s still a pretty hefty chunk of my life. I’d like to enjoy that time if I can.