If you’ve read some of my blog posts before or follow me on social media, you know that I consistently struggle with figuring out how to best identify all I want to do in life and how to get it done. Some call this topic productivity, but I find that word to be problematic. For me, productivity always elicits a corporate-style, aggressive approach to what we do in life.
Instead, I try to think of my various life direction and planning strategies, which have shifted significantly over time, to simply be me trying to have a happy and fulfilling life doing what I really want to do (not what others tell me I should want to do).
In my youth, my father instilled in me a lot of the goal creation and planning self-help strategies that are still touted a lot to this day. Create long-term goals, then medium-term, then short-term, then chunk them into step-by-step tasks for the coming month, week and day. Phew. It can be exhausting planning all this let alone executing it.
The allure of such a seemingly robust system of goal creation and attainment is strong. It seems so perfect when you first encounter it. I’ve hopefully abandoned for good that strategy. I tried. I really tried. For years. It just never proved to be an effective strategy for me. Over time I’ve wrestled with many approaches to identifying what I want to do in life and how to best do them. It’s been bumpy, but life is a journey and not a destination and my guess is that I may be wrestling with this for the rest of my life.
I wrote about one thing I do that I refer to as My Daily Practice and it works quite well. I have no intention of stopping this practice Still, something was missing. I found myself too often sidetracked from the stuff that made me the most fulfilled and happy. Therefore, I’ve also decided to try something new in addition to my daily practice.
Enter a concept I call “foundation activities.” So, what does that mean?
I concluded that for me something that might help me best organize my life is not just my daily practice. I needed something else in addition, activities that if I do them consistently will be productive unto themselves and also spawn efforts in related areas too.
For example, one of the foundation activities I decided upon is to do a certain type of exercise program I’ve developed for myself at home for 30 minutes every day, and to also meditate at the end of each such exercise session.
Exercising and meditating this way not only has the immediate benefits of a fitter body and more relaxed mind, but I’m hoping it also prompts me to do certain other things each day. Eat better. Walk more. Pay attention to my medical and dental needs. Get plenty of sleep. Take my medications consistently. Reduce my stress. Shave, shower, groom and dress to have a nice public presentation. And so on. Without necessarily having to spell out each of these specifically.
My theory is that by sticking with a small set of foundation activities consistently, they will serve as the triggers that prompt a whole set of healthy and fulfilling activities. Time will tell if my theory pans out.
Today I came up with my initial list of foundation activities and tomorrow I begin. What did I come up with? Here’s my list, in no particular order. This is what’s important to me. If you were to undertake such a venture, your list might be entirely different. I will likely adjust these over time, but here’s how I’ll start. Every day I will:
- Do 30 minutes of my at-home exercise program including meditation.
- Write for an hour.
- Learn and create for an hour (includes information, skills, research and/or creation).
- Do something to help others every day.
- Purge, organize and clean my home for 30 minutes.
- Masturbate or have sex every day. (I know this seems an odd choice to some, but my sex life is important to me and I’ve been neglecting it lately.)
- Reach out to one person and make a deep connection with them, an old or new friend.
Tomorrow this all begins. My instincts tell me this is going to be helpful. These foundation activities combined with my already regular daily practice should keep me focused on the most important things for my life without becoming bogged down in lengthy goal list and task creation that’s proven to fail for me in short order.
Stay tuned for the results.