Guidelines

Guidelines

I never considered myself a rebellious person.  In fact, as far as memory serves me I was a pretty compliant child.  But now as a thirty-four-year old woman I find myself bristling at people telling me what to do.  If you have suggestions or advice, fine!  You have a story or opinion to share?  I’ll listen.  But do NOT tell me what to do!  I want room to think for myself!

I also used to be on top of things.  I’m not a Type A kind of person.  I admire them.  However, I am not one of them.  But I always thought I could hold my own…until I had kids.  (Rabbit trail here: but what is it about giving birth that erodes short-term memory and infuses forgetfulness?  Personally, I think the hormones and sleep deprivation are mostly to blame.  Who knows?!!?)  All I know is that I have become scatter-brained and I must write things down and put appointments DIRECTLY into my little calendar on the cell phone and set the alarm or I will not remember.

So with the combination of a developed independent streak and my random thoughts that evaporate in a second, I have a dilemma.  My to-do list is never complete and it leaves me with such guilt and burden!  I don’t like telling myself what to do!  (I don’t even like following a recipe to a “t”.)   However, due to my increasing forgetfulness I need a system!  I need tools to help me remember and keep commitments.  So what’s a semi-rebellious random-thinking girl to do?

It’s all in perspective.  I turned my constricting To-Do list into a Could-Do list, as in if-I-have-an-extra 10-minutes-these-are some-things-I-could-do list. I’ve found room to breathe and the help I need in doing those exact things I once despised: making lists, budgets, and schedules.  Now I see these plans more as guidelines…boundaries.  It helps me sort out what is essential and what is not.  Let me know where the boundaries (need-to’s) are and then give me freedom to maneuver and flex as I go.  Oh, what a freeing concept for me!

I used to think I had to have everything under control, scheduled, organized, in a planner and follow the plan to the letter.  If you’re wired that way, thank the Lord for people like you!  I can’t do it. However, maybe like me you need room to be creative and spontaneous but also need some boundaries to keep you moving in the right direction.  Here’s my advice (because I don’t want to tell you what to do):  you can look at options that work for others and that might be a good fit for you…but think of them only as guidelines!

What systems work for you?  Leave a comment and share with us!

8 Responses »

  1. In summary, I think the word for your situation, wonderfully described, is “NORMAL”.
    A To-do list is just another tool, something that might make getting through a day a little easier than without it. Maybe!
    All the “how-to” books about personal or professional “success” have familiar themes. Define a goal. Imagine it real. Make a plan. Go. Check in to see if you are on-plan, and adjust as needed. In some quality groups, they call this “Plan Do Check Act”, and it’s a continuous cycle.
    And they work great for driven goal-oriented people who are lucky enough to be able to pin down the 1 or 2 things they want to do with their lives. I haven’t known more than 5 people who knew what they wanted to do while still in grade school. I wonder if they understand their particular brand of luck.
    But what about the rest of us? Does that mean we’re a bunch of wandering, shiftless, lazy, bend-with-the-wind no-accounts? There MUST be a middle ground in there somewhere. Maybe we aren’t the disciplined “Plan Do Check Act” people, but that also doesn’t mean we should take the “Ready Fire Aim” approach either.
    Some “thoughts for the rest of us”…
    Maybe there’s something to be said for “Bloom where you’re planted.” Looking at your family situation and all its aspects, it seems to me you have a good grasp on that. I’ve seen that in you for decades.
    Another thing – HAPPY is wonderful, but it is more a choice than just an outcome or result. There are families out there, probably close to you, whose household income is easily double yours. How ’bout their “Happy Meter”? I’ll bet it doesn’t measure twice as much as yours. And if there are families making not quite $25k a year, are they necessarily 1/3 less happy than you?
    The most difficult thing for me to learn is that most of the time, the place for me to look at my level of happiness is in the mirror. We set such impossible goals for ourselves, and judgmental as we might be about our children or other people and their choices, we are far more harsh on ourselves, and we rarely recognize that… in ourselves, that is.
    Finally after more than 6 decades, I realize I’m still not very good at looking within. But, it dawned on me that the things I so easily pick out in other people – there’s a reason I recognize them so readily. As familiar as I am with these traits, how could I not?
    I smile when I read your post… in part because I remember so many times Jan saying, “I really thought I WAS Super-Mom!”
    So, I’d say you’re right where you need to be. And one thing about those lists – the ones with 12 things on the list and only 4 of them crossed off… it’s like there are 2 of me inside… one of them grateful for the 4 I accomplished, the other disappointed about the 8 that are still undone. They’re both real. But I can decide which ME to feed…

    My prayer for you and yours… I hope you feel as good about yourself as the rest of those special people feel about you. You’re entitled…
    just cuz….

  2. YOU ARE not 34!!!!!!!! sigh

    I knew from Second Grade (public school child that I was 😉 that I would be a librarian. And here I is … Love your posts – the whole blog actually.

    And I realized tonight that I am leading a pretty boring life. Same old same old. And maybe that is not all bad. Dealing with health has allowed me to make a few changes, BTW. Little by little I am weaning away from this physical world…..

  3. Wanda, you were born to be a librarian…I couldn’t imagine you doing anything else! Thanks for the encouragement. Boring lives aren’t so bad…and besides, life is rarely boring for very long! You’re an inspiration to many.
    And, yes, I AM 34! (But don’t worry, I don’t believe it either!) 😉

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