To Do or To Be? Making Resolutions

It’s still August, but the weather has shifted and my American friends are getting ready for back-to-school season and the internet seems full of new planners, backpacks, and freshly sharpened pencils. Autumn, more than winter for me, is a time to start thinking about resolutions for a new year.

Most of us make resolutions, but we often frame them in terms of what we want to accomplish or produce, rather than the type of person those resolutions are making us to be.

We resolve to lose 10 pounds or get a degree or eat more spinach. We plan to make partner at the firm or earn 100k or buy a new vacation home. We try to take 100 photos in 100 days or learn to ski or master making perfect pasta.

But why? Why do we want to do so much? Are we not content with just being? Continue Reading

Where Do You Get Your Significance?

“And what I’ve realized is that I cling to stress because I fear I am not worthy unless I am busy. I maintain an overbooked schedule because it makes me feel needed and successful. To give up the sensation of feeling stressed, for me, would be to give up feeling significant.”

These words really caused me to think. I’ve been consciously trying to stop hurrying and to build more margin into my days. I don’t like being “busy” for the sake of it, and there are few things I enjoy more than a lazy afternoon spent reading a good novel. But what about this idea of “feeling significant”?

This is a question that seems to plague almost everyone I meet: what makes you feel significant? What makes you feel like you matter? Where does your worth come from? Continue Reading

Introverted or Extroverted?

Of all the personality traits or types, “introvert” and “extrovert” are probably the most well-known and commonly used.

But what do these designations mean? And why do they matter?

A few years ago, I was chatting with an acquaintance at work about my plans for the weekend.

“Well,” I said resignedly, “I’m going out to a meet-up happy hour. I’m dreading it, of course, but I’m making myself go.”

“Why are you dreading it?” she asked, puzzled. “That sounds like so much fun!” Continue Reading

A Cure for Frustration: The List

Have you ever found yourself irritable, frustrated, or angry, but you aren’t sure why? You know something is bothering you, but you aren’t sure what?

I find that if eating or napping doesn’t fix it (hello, “hangry”!) – if it’s the kind of thing that sticks with me for a while – the best thing I can do is make a list.

It sounds like silly advice, I know. But it really helps.

The benefit of the list is that you don’t have to be able to explain anything. Sometimes, trying to talk it out or write it out in sentences and paragraphs can lead to more frustration: the “why” or even the “what” of the irritability is difficult to pinpoint and explain. Speaking and writing properly requires that we relate at least two things to one another. A subject + predicate. But what if I only have one, or half of one?

Enter the list. Continue Reading

“No” is Easy When You Know Your “Yes”

Do you have trouble saying “no” to things? Me too. My natural tendency is to feel like I don’t want to disappoint anyone, so when I would say “no” to a request, I would always end up feeling guilty and yet relieved at the same time. This lasted for years.

I remember the first time I really said a firm “no” to helping someone, and felt free because of it: I was in my mid 20s!

As a graduate student, my study load was quite heavy. A fellow student asked if I could read over his paper to edit it and give feedback. Without thinking I said, “I’m sorry, I don’t have time for that.” It just popped out of my mouth—I was shocked that I had said no so easily.

Later, I marveled at the freedom I had found in saying “no” – but what I realized was that I could say “no” easily, because I had already said “yes.” Continue Reading