Self-Improvement V Contentment

Just a few weeks into the beginning of a new year and there is this fight in my world. Self-improvement and productivity is going up against contentment and peace. 

Self-Improvement

Late last year as I was finalising all my planning for 2017 I read "Getting Things Done” by David Allen. I was all excited to get myself super-organised so that I could be more productive and achieve amazing things this year, to make the most of every day and do a better job than ever before. I wrote a professional development plan, looked into courses to do, conferences to attend, and books to read so that 2017 would be my best year ever. 

And, I’ve gotten off to a great start! I have all of the planned appointments for the year colour coded and displayed neatly on my office wall. My planner is set up with sections for my regular meetings and each area of responsibility, all neatly marked with my new fine liner. I’ve written my weekly and monthly to-do lists and time blocked my calendar. I’ve set out a 10 outfit capsule wardrobe for work and church so I don’t have to waste time deciding what to wear each morning. I’ve tidied up my stationary drawer. I’ve been back to boot camp twice in one week. I’m ready to go into a fantastic year. I’m going to do more, learn more, grow more and be more amazing than ever before!

Self-Improvement or Contentment? The challenge of the New Year.

Contentment

Then there is this other side of my life— the ‘be content and live simply’ part. This part of me looks at all of my productivity and self improvement plans and just sighs. A sigh of tired, overwhelmed, stressed exhaustion. It’s the me that wrote the I Quit post just a few short weeks ago that wants to walk on the beach and have coffee with friends, make healthy meals from scratch and sew my own pyjamas. 

I recently watched ‘Minimalism: a Documentary about the Important Things’ and so much of it resonates with me. It’s all about living simply with just the things we need and love. At its heart, this is what Living with Margins is all about—creating a life with space and time to enjoy the things we love with the people we love. This is what I want my life to be defined by, not the endless striving to fill my life with more and more and more. Bring out the colouring-in book and a hammock by the beach.

So, the war wages. Be productive and improve myself as much as I can, or, be content and live simply and peacefully? Who will win in 2017? As I carefully consider the pros and cons of each side and try to weigh up the evidence to choose a worthy winner, the best outcome becomes clear. I must negotiate a peaceful resolution for both to coexist. For either side to win would be a clear loss for me. I need both, together.

Rest AND Learn

Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.
— Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30)

In the busyness of everyday responsibilities, I need to rule out time for BOTH self improvement, and contentment. They both have to be regular, planned and intentional. 

So, I need to go back to my time blocked planner and include time for reading, coffee with friends and walks on the beach. I will look at the calendar on the wall and block in the course I need to do, the mentor I want to met, as well as a retreat day each term. I will set big goals and work hard to achieve them. I will stop and appreciate the beauty in each new day. I will plan for productivity. I will plan for contentment. It will be a great year, and everybody wins.