Well friends, it’s hard to believe, but as of today there’s 92 days left in the wildest year of our lifetimes. When I decided a while ago that 2020 would be the last year of AoS, I never could have predicted it would be a year like this.
I knew I wanted my final months of regular publishing here to be a gradual, life-giving offramp filled with gratitude at what this place has been for me. I admired Grace Bonney’s ending of Design*Sponge in 2019, announcing in January that the last post would be in August, and I thought this strategy took both guts and stamina. I liked the idea of announcing an ending a full year in advance for both readers and myself: it lets people know this decision is intentional, and it gives me a trail guide.
Except I wasn’t planning on a global pandemic leading to a near-global quarantine for most of our households and for the idea of working from home to take on a whole new meaning. I already worked from home and my kids already homeschooled part-time, so that part wasn’t a shock to the system like it was for most other people. The shocker was my mental and emotional acuity and resilience.
I don’t have to tell you that 2020 has been tiring because you already know it in your bones. I’m right there with you. I’ll simply say, then, that this years’ aftershocks weren’t in my original playbook for ending AoS. And that’s okay.
I’ve wanted to be more coherent, candid, and reflective here, and I just haven’t as much. It’s been hard to concentrate and think deeply about the stuff we normally talk about on AoS. More important to me, I wanted to transfer more of my essay writing to my newsletter where I send my weekly newsletter 5 Quick Things. It hasn’t happened as I wanted. But that’s okay, too.
Here are a few things I’ve learned this year about working well when life throws you curveballs, from global pandemics to kids waking up with tummy bugs.
1. Good enough is just fine.
In the best way possible, no one’s paying attention to specifically you as much as your own self is because we’re all the thick of wondering if we’re doing enough. As a recovering my-value-lies-in-my-productivity believer, I’ve had to remind myself frequently: I’m doing enough. My output is just fine.
2. Habits are more important than goals.
I’ve come to learn that while goal-setting has its place for some personalities and some seasons, it’s really in our daily actions when we become who we want to be. Annie Dillard’s famous quote, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives” rings truer than ever here.
If I long for meaningful satisfaction in my life, I’m better off reflecting on and fine-tuning my daily choices than I am making big, lofty goals for myself. (Those goals wouldn’t happen without good habits anyway.)
3. With this in mind, focus on where you want to be in three years.
I talk about this in my Rule of Life workshop — daily habits should be our focus, but with where we’re headed kept in mind. For me, ten years is too fuzzy to think about, yet one year is too soon. Three years is the right amount of time for things to be different yet with knowable circumstances.
When I imagine how I’d like things to be in my family’s life in three years, I’m able to work backward with a purpose for the one year and one month in front of me.
4. The world doesn’t need any more Thought Leaders™.
No one needs my opinion and commentary about every single thing happening right now, and it doesn’t need yours. This should be a welcome relief. It is WAY TOO LOUD out there, and I’m tired of everyone acting like everyone’s waiting to hear what they have to say.
We need far more thoughtful people willing and able to go into Deep-Work mode to create the art and science that makes our world a better place.
Many of my favorite novelists aren’t on Twitter. Many of them aren’t on Instagram. I don’t know most of their opinions on politics and religion. But I know I love how they weave a story that changes me for the better. I don’t think this is a coincidence.
These ideas are the things that are buoying me as I look ahead at this last quarter of 2020. My offramp here at AoS is bumpier than I wanted, and B&C is on its way to being the space I want it to be, but it’s not quite there yet.
This is okay. Working well isn’t about doing things perfectly, it’s about responding well to the day laid before you, one at a time.