Push yourself I wrote this on a Duane Reade receipt as I was reading The Happiness Project before the sun came up this morning.  I wrote push yourself.  Am I pushing myself?  I can work hard.  I can meet my goals and deadlines.  But are my goals a reach? Am I pushing myself?

I wrote a novel.  How long can I rest on that one?  I could say I am a hard worker.  But the truth is that I feel like I waste a lot of time.  With my writing, I am doing a lot of rejiggering. It’s like a Rubix cube: change one thing and affects everything else.  I end up feeling like I am dabbing at a canvas only to paint over it later.

In the single coaching session I’ve had so far, the directive was to put down some goals that are achievable but are “a reach.”  So what would cause me to push myself? Which goals would be a reach?

Blogging four times a week is a reach.  Even when I had my old blog, I never blogged more than two or three times a week.  And on this blog I am challenging myself to write longer posts.  So that’s definitely a reach.  Coupling the challenge of devoting five hours a week to working on the new novel with the blogging goal is also definitely a reach.  And I think I’ll know more definitively if these things are a reach after I’ve given them a go for a week.  I’ll feel exactly how challenging it is to successfully complete the tasks.  (I told myself, and my coach, that I will go to work without makeup if I don’t blog four times this week.  And I won’t eat anything sweet after dinner – no “dessert” – if I don’t write/work on the novel for five hours.)

How can I up my commitment to my goals?  Instead of mindless surfing the web when I have a few minutes of downtime at work (I have a whole category on my Google reader devoted to “Gossip” and another devoted to “Arts and Entertainment”), I could figure out some little tasks to take care of.  I find it hard to switch tasks and get into the zone when I’m at work.  But I could try that.  I think I’d have to determine in advance the little tasks I want to accomplish in my downtime at work.

Mostly, I feel there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done that I want to accomplish.  I’d never been a person who really subscribed to that cliché – there aren’t enough hours in the day.  I thought, okay, maybe I would feel that way if I had kids.  Or if I had an extraordinarily long commute or something.  There was a time, in 2000-2001, when I worked two jobs.  I can’t believe now that I worked two jobs.  But I did.  I wanted to work in television.  And I wanted to live in the city.  The two were not quite compatible when it came down to the dollars and cents.  So I got a part time job, first, at a restaurant down the block (I was a terrible waitress) and then at a clothing store.  Even then I didn’t think “there aren’t enough hours in the day.”  I just adapted.  And perhaps my goals then were a little less ambitious.  I wanted to live in the city.  I guess that was my goal.  So I worked enough hours to bring in enough money to make that happen.  I wasn’t really content working so much, but it was what I had to do in order to not have to live in my parents’ house.

This morning, I also read in Gretchen Rubin’s book that there is this theory that ambition and contentment cannot co-exist.  Ambition is born of discontentment.  By it’s very nature ambition requires that you leave the realm of contentment and strive for something more, something “better.” In The Happiness Project, Rubin strives to prove she can live her best life while being happier. So she says that her efforts to be happier actually emboldened her and made her more courageous in pursuing her ambitions and setting forth goals that would be a reach.  She admits that by pushing herself and accepting, and embracing, failure, she did encounter a handful of setbacks.  But, as is the goal I believe for the entire project, she was better equipped to handle the “failures” because she was happier in general.

By setting goals and achieving them, I am sure I will feel bolder, more empowered, more in control, and even stronger.  I’ll believe I hold my destiny in my own hands and maybe even feel free to set my ambitions higher.  I strive for contentment as I reach for my dreams.

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