I honestly don’t think I’ve ever gotten all of my greeting cards sent/Christmas shopping done before December 25th pretty much my entire life. If I ever managed to get them completed at all (which was very rare), they wouldn’t arrive to the receiver until mid-to-late January, always with an excuse about how busy I’ve been. “That’s life [as a server/in a theme park/on a cruise ship]! Holidays are our busy time! But hey, better late that never!”
I never wanted my Christmas cards and presents to be late but I guess my intentions were always too good, my sights too high. Despite being legitimately busy during the holidays, I had grandiose plans of sending handwritten cards and specially crafted gifts to everyone on my ever-increasing, meticulously curated lists of friends and coworkers from all around the world. But, like so many things in my past, I’d unwittingly set myself up for failure and, once I did inevitably fail, I’d beat myself up over it because the reason was never that I’d set unrealistic goals but because I wasn’t focused enough, organized enough, disciplined enough.
So I worked on getting organized and narrowing my focus and finding some discipline yet, while it got me better at managing the process of being overwhelmed, it never helped me complete anything.
But this past year, my attitude changed. My plans evolved. It stopped being about completing a series of (much too) big projects, and instead picking a direction towards a goal and then just doing what I could that moved me towards that destination.
I’ve read somewhere that, in the desert, a place where everything can look the same, large metal barrels have been placed a certain distant apart so that, when one drives past a barrel, then next one is just visible on the horizon. To get across the desert, one doesn’t have to know the entire route, one only has to see as far as the next barrel. That’s how I’ve been treating things. And it seems to have been working.
As a result, despite all the crap that’s happened in the past 12 months, it’s been one of my most productive years yet: I advanced to the top at work, I’ve restarted a blog, I literally helped “Save the Cat” and, as of this afternoon, I got all my Christmas stuff done BEFORE Christmas.