“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” –Annie Dillard
I’m back from six days in Taos, New Mexico with some dear friends. Even though I’m away from daily distractions and obligations, I never write during Fred (my girlfriends’ getaway–read more about it here). This year, more than ever, I needed to simply be. I did take some marvelous photos, however. This year, we received marching orders from one of our tribe: “Don’t be sad. Have fun.” Mission accomplished–mostly. We were still sad, but we also made ample room for laughter–that kind of giggling where you remember exactly where all of your abdominal muscles reside. The inside jokes, the camaraderie, the love for Freddies who were both present and far away, never for a moment doubting how very blessed we are to have found each other.
Now that we’re back home, I’ve been thinking about that Annie Dillard quote:
How do you spend your days? Do you worry, do you judge, are you mistrustful, are you harsh? Or are you carefree, loving, generous? Maybe you’re all of the above. I know I am, some days.
Do you fritter away moments, checking this and clicking that, hitting refresh or flipping through channels or wandering aisles?
I do know that expecting to one day have all of the perfect systems in place and everything running according to plan is an illusion. Days are meant to be messy, interrupted, and full of unexpected irritants and moments of wonder. Seth Godin helped me see this in one of his trademark pithy statements:
There’s nothing wrong with having a plan.
Plans are great.
But missions are better. Missions survive when plans fail, and plans almost always fail.
I also know that we must work to get out of our own way in order to focus on our most deeply held priorities and dreams. I think the ‘simplicity’ and ‘balance’ we crave starts here, at the source, with those priorities, not the other way around. You can set up elaborate systems and structures and plans and rewards and punishments, but if you’re heart’s not in it, everything will slide back to square one. But if you do what I call ‘leading with joy,’ the system forms itself around the dream. The ease follows from that: You know who you are and why you are here and what needs doing. The rest is static, best left ignored.
More this week, along with another newsletter. Not yet a subscriber? Let’s fix that right now. Meanwhile, I’d love to hear how you spend your days, and what you think about systems vs. joy.