Riding a bike for me — in case you haven’t noticed from everything I write ;) — is a matter of intentionality. On purpose, I limit the fossil fuels implicated in my transportation. On purpose, I notice and appreciate the neighborhoods I go through rather than only focusing on my destination. On purpose, I subject myself to the elements, and I like that it makes me resilient and unfazed by weather. I work activity and muscle movement into my fundamental way of traveling through the world, intentionally, even if sometimes it’s difficult, because I know I am happier that way.
I try to make other decisions intentionally too. Sometimes, it’s super obvious what I should do given my values, but sometimes, like when I was trying to decide whether to accept my new job or not, it’s a little murkier.
With my job, I worried in part that I’d accept it not because it was necessarily the best step forward but simply because it was a decent enough job that was offered to me. Yes, I wanted it enough to apply for it in the first place, but there was also a nagging part of me that wondered if maybe I gave up too easily on my unasked-for but nevertheless received chance to sit with massive underemployment for a while. Maybe I’d given up on my chance to figure out what exactly I wanted my next, ideal, step to be. (Though then again, I’m a firm proponent of figuring things out through action, not through just sitting around and thinking really hard.) But I worried that perhaps my decision was the easy way out, the way getting in a car when it’s cold and rainy is the easy way out.
Probably, I was overthinking it, which I am wont to do. But just in case — call it hedging my bets — I spelled out some questions in my journal to refer back to in several months or a year, sort of an honest check-in with myself (and, I suppose, a reflection of what I’m worried about) to make sure I’m still on a path that feels good to me:
- Do you still feel like you have community?
- How do you feel about your desire/strength to work with young adults? Is that side of you being fulfilled? Is it still important?
- Are you making time for meaningful connection to nature?
- Are you learning things that are interesting to you and that allow you do things you think are helpful to this world?
- Do you feel good about the work you’re doing and the contribution you’re making?
- Are you getting enough adventure time?
(Work: probably fulfilling at least some desire for adventure;) And it strikes me that even just writing those questions out and bringing them to the top of my consciousness makes it more likely that I will actively work to make sure I can answer them positively)
I mention this not to talk about my life goals or anything but to bring up the idea of a check-in with self. Despite trying to make intentional decisions, I’ve never actually made a list like that to look at retroactively: I usually feel in the moment like I’ve made the best decision I can and I’ll just blaze forward. But for moments of waffle-y indecision like this one, it strikes me that it might be a good barometer, something by which to measure how I feel about life in a year. That way, rather than just letting myself get swept along and not liking where I end up, I have a built-in check-stop to reassess how things are going.
(Is this all just a sign that I’ve gotten worse at making decisions? As I get older and it seems harder to start over, am I just putting more unnecessary pressure on myself to make the “right” decision in ways that I never would have worried about before?)
Okay, fundamentally, I’m not too super worried about it since this job just gets better and better. But it made me feel better, especially at the beginning, to have a check-in just to make sure I keep to the right track.
Does anyone else have experience with this kind of thing? Anyone check in with themselves about how they’re doing in life and what’s actually happening vs. what you imagined for yourself? Tips or tricks? Pitfalls? I’ve been thinking about this an awful lot lately, and would love anyone to push my thinking here…