Focus for Enjoyment

Every Sunday, I think through and write out my goals for the week, ranging from fitness targets to work goals to personal projects. When I first started this ritual a few years back, I kept myself to 5 goals, but, with each new week, the urge to cram in more became stronger and the discipline to keep priorities concentrated weakened.

The pattern of gradually adding more "priorities" ate at me because the percentage of goal completion determined my level of satisfaction. When there were 10 things to get done, completing 5 (50%) felt like a failure; when there were 5, completing 4 out of 5 things (80%) felt more like "success".

Since my human brain doesn't fully celebrate each goal distinctly but instead groups all weekly goals into a singular bucket labeled "goals", I was sowing the seeds of discontentment by making shotgun progress in who-knows-how-many areas, instead of learning the art of selectively prioritizing one or two things at a time as a means of making meaningful and satisfaction-inducing progress.

But that's not all folks! For not only do I interpret the outcome more favorably by having higher percentage completion, the process itself becomes more enjoyable because I've done the up-front work of deciding the few things that are worth doing, giving me the space to do them slowly and artfully and lazily and curiously.

At the heart of it, the goal is not to "do less;" rather, it's to strengthen the muscle that says, "This is actually not as important as I once thought" or "Working towards this is how my week on Earth should be spent".

I will probably always under-appreciate and under-value this skill, but my hope is that writing this will help keep it front-of-mind. In the meantime, I've restructured my weekly goals into two categories, Priority and Secondary, and I'll never have more than two items in the Priority category - that is my promise to you, amorphous Internet.

Lastly, if you want to see someone who made this idea artfully last 272, I'd highly recommend the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.