I write this on the 30th of August – so to anyone who went to an English school, the end of the summer holidays. The end of the summer essentially.
I had summer goals that I wrote down to make them final and legit and also to experiment whether you get more satisfaction physically ticking something off a list, compared to living your life carefree and goalless.
So this experiment is almost a failure..
..my original post already had things ticked off, and other than plans that didn’t work out (like buying the kite but there never being wind), my list stayed unticked and staring at me from my cork board – telling me I’m a failure. You’re a failure, Emily, you failed.
I mean, other than my life not being about counting my failures and successes – who has time for that?! – I have done more things this summer than I think I have any other summer. I mentioned in a few blog posts ago that it was never a goal to go to so many beaches – it was a goal to go to a beach – and if it were my goal I doubt it would have happened.
We went to 9.
It was also a goal to ‘plant those seeds’ (meaning seeds I had and always forgot about when it’s the right time of year to plant them). I deemed it a success, worth ticking off, because I didn’t know if they’d grow and I planted them well too late – I think July some time. But low and behold I have plants. Probably won’t produce any vegetables. But I can’t untick my list now. And the fact I did this all by myself feels amazing (other than my little brother helping to repot).
I explained the flying the kite one, ‘do extreme sports’ and ‘watch the sun rise’ – well, I just hadn’t had time. Sure I’ve had leisure time, but when you do you want to sit and eat chocolate, not really go white water rafting and stay up for 24 hours. But this leads me on to the question – when does the summer really end?! Officially. Well, Google says (I quickly Google):
Friday the 22nd of September.
Hooray! Still have nearly a whole month.
Doesn’t mean I’ll get everything ticked off, I don’t like pressure. The kite one though! I have nearly a month to fly a kite and tick it off my list, before the list just goes into the bin anyway.
Now lets talk about what I proposed in my original post about goals, whether you get more satisfaction from a list compared to just doing stuff. To compare this I had to just do stuff, and later on work out of the things I did which was worth comparing to crossing off goals.
Obviously, didn’t really reach any summer goals, but all summer I still had to-do lists that I was ticking off daily, and oh my God, that was satisfying. I think when you’ve done so much stuff that you’re confused on whether you’ve done anything, then get to tick it all off and see what progress you’ve made.. that’s the money shot right there. That’s the high five to your ego, it made me feel good. (Things like ‘Google this idea’ ‘paint this’ ‘put this on ebay’).
As my summer goals were so vague (they didn’t say ‘book an extreme sport’ ‘do the extreme sport’ etc) there was less satisfaction. I don’t think there was any actually. It’s more just a reminder. It wasn’t a to do list. Just a reminder to play or do things I haven’t before. It was like subliminal messaging.
I got excited when we planned to go fly our kites, it’s the build up, it’s the planning. It’s like a ‘everything in our lives has led up to this moment’ kind of feeling. Whereas if it was spontaneous like other activities we did, there’s no build up. Then again when you spontaneously do things you get such a thrill and adrenaline rush, and people always say the days you don’t plan are always the best ones. I think because you haven’t preconceived anything, anything can happen. And, if you’re like me, when you plan a day you imagine what conversations you might have (social anxiety) or what it might feel like doing that activity etc, then sometimes when it doesn’t go that way it’s disappointing. Say we decided to fly a kite on a whim, would we be more or less disappointed if it didn’t work out?!
Days we didn’t plan, like The Cuckoos Trail or going to Bewl water, were satisfying is a completely different way. In a ‘look how good life is!’ way. I believe that’s where a ‘good summer’ comes from. I also realise now that I can’t plan things, so my friends plan events well in advance but tell me about it last minute because I’m more likely to go – I panic about long term, dunno why. I wonder if it’s also because I know I get a better feeling this way too, and I’m all about feelings unfortunately.
This all being said, I think having goals in general are wicked. It naturally puts you in a mindset to do more. Keeps you present. With out meaning to sound dramatic, it’s like giving you reasons to live, even if you don’t keep to them. It’s a reminder than life can be an adventure.
For me, not so vague goals feel good to tick off simply because they’re easier to tick off, and then inspires me to keep going. Big goals I can’t keep to rigidly because that turns into pressure and I just want to run away, but having them there is enough to push me into the right direction anyway.