When I first started doing this exercise, I also wanted the option of writing the worst thing that happened each day. It seemed much easier to pick out than a best thing. In fact, some days it seemed that it would have been difficult to choose just one worst thing. But I did as I was asked and tried to focus on the positives and it did get easier. On some days now, while I am engaged in some enjoyable activity, I find myself making a mental note of it and wondering if that will be my “best thing” for the day.
The goals portion of the assignment seems pretty basic, especially the part where I am just reporting on whether I met my day’s goal or not. Simple, either I did it or I didn’t do it. The trick there, on days that I have not met my goal, is to not launch into a huge explanation or justification of why I haven’t done it. Sometimes I set the same goal three days running because I keep putting it off. Eventually it becomes an embarrassment to keep writing it down over and over, so I force myself to finally do it. It holds me accountable.
Setting the goals is another matter, sometimes easy, sometimes not. In the beginning, the goals were pretty basic. If I had an appointment coming up my goal might simply be to keep the appointment. I thought that was a gimme; you have an appointment, you show up. But the reality at the time was that it did take a major effort just to “show up.” I was encouraged to set goals that I had a good chance of accomplishing, and to give myself due credit when I actually did follow through.
Over the past couple of days I have been laid up at home with my sprained ankle. I haven’t set goals for the past two days because there wasn’t a whole lot I felt I could accomplish. I’ve been hobbling from the bed to the couch to the kitchen and back again. And I’ve been feeling very listless. It’s not just that I haven't been able to do much of anything; I haven't felt like doing anything at all. And that’s a dangerous place for me to be.
I need structure in my life, especially now while I am not working and basically don’t have to answer to anyone but myself. Goal setting helps me impose structure on my day. It gives me at least one task that compels me to get out of bed in the morning, one commitment I have made, even if it was only to myself.
After being cooped up alone at home for a while now, I can feel the inertia settling in. I looked at my calendar last night and found that I have nothing scheduled for the next three days. This is not good. This is when I need goals and structure the most. This is when I need to push myself.
I will think on it, try to fabricate some obligation to which I can hold myself accountable. There are a lot of things I could do, I suppose. The house is certainly not spotless and could use some attention. I will want to ponder – if not write – another blog post. If my ankle allows, I need to go to the post office. There, now I have three goals already, and I am actually starting to feel more awake and alive. I’m not going to win any gold medals today, but I’ll have something to write down at the end of the day. And that’s pretty much what the whole exercise is about on some days. I will have shown up.
I’m already looking forward to discovering my “best thing” for today.