25 Jan on lowering the bar
I’ve decided that I am going to lower the bar.
I’m lowering my expectations.
Sounds bad doesn’t it?
Sounds like the words of someone who is depressed. Like the words of someone with low self-esteem and low self-regard. Like the words of someone who cannot believe for the best, who doesn’t hope for the future.
I’m not planing for the impossible.
And I’m not shooting for the stars.
now you’re really worried aren’t you?
But I’m lowering the bar. I’m doing it.
Instead of expecting I can get through the exhausting to-do list, I’m taking things off it before I begin. I’m making the tasks easier. I’m cutting out the fiddly bits, you know like ironing and trying at least one new recipe every week. I’m going to be letting people down as I say no to things. The presumed ability to maintain connection with all people at all times has run its course.
I’m lowering the bar.
I’m setting my sights on enjoying activities, enjoying the process, and I’m not going to constantly evaluate outcomes. I’m going to enjoy being focused on one thing at a time, giving it my full attention. To revel in the doing part, not the done part. I’m going to quit worrying about how successful these things are (or at least try).
Rather than starting the week with a subconscious bulging with all I am hoping to complete: a full house de-clutter, quality time with family and friends, two new blog posts, a few hours on other writing stuff, sorting out my working space, tidying my much neglected garden, being present with my children after school every day whilst preparing food from scratch, I’m going to make a plan and prioritise. I’m going to meet up with less people and have a messier house. I’ll probably blog less and will sometimes get food from the freezer, or phone for a take-away.
I am a FOMO (fear of missing out) addict in recovery. It is a bad thing, FOMO. Like the nonsense that is YOLO (you only live once – who makes this crap up?), it keeps you trapped in the belief that everyone else is having more fun than you are, it pushes you to stay on the treadmill of activity because you believe everyone else is. It is competitive and exhausting. And the consequence of practising it too often is that it can become difficult to hear the quiet voice inside that tells you what you really need, what is good and life-giving for you.
My friend Laura made me a jumper with JOMO (joy of missing out) emblazoned on the front for Christmas. I’m working on JOMO being my new normal, or at least a large part of my repertoire. The joy of not doing what everyone else is doing, just because everyone else is doing it. The joy of deciding that I don’t think I will enjoy that film, that play, those drinks, that school meeting (eek!), that I don’t think it is a good use of my time. The joy of deciding for myself how my days will be spent.
I’m going to plan more, to do less.
I’m lowering the bar.
Because the problem with raising the bar, the problem with always aiming for the unattainable, is that you can end up feeling like a bit of a failure. A bit like your life doesn’t match up to your idea of what your life should be. Who said everything I write has to connect with everyone? Who said my house should look like a carefully curated instagram post? Who said to jump at every opportunity? Who said the kids need me 100% available to them at every moment of every day? Who said that email, that text, demands a response immediately?
Who is setting these standards?
And why am I yet again falling into the trap of believing that aiming for all this will be ‘the best’ for me and those I love?
Maybe by lowering the bar, by practising a healthy amount of JOMO there will be more time for the important stuff; kitchen discos, snuggling under the blanket on the sofa with my six year old, proper face to face conversations with those I love, a moment for myself to take breath without the world crowding in, the occasional long email to dear friends overseas, tasting the food I have prepared rather than inhaling it, walking in the fresh air by the river.
(Oh, and jigsaw puzzles, I love a puzzle!)
Maybe by lowering the bar there will be more time for spontaneity, more time for silliness, more time for joy.
I’m lowering the bar. And I’m going to use it as a swing.