At work, we use a (sometimes) pesky bot to share updates on what we’ve been up to. Geekbot, as it’s called, shows up every day at 5pm and asks brightly, ‘What have you achieved today?’ I try to answer this as frankly as possible, in other words, ‘not much’ oftentimes has to be submitted, with an emoji added to distract. But it doesn’t stop there, then it says, ‘What will you do next?’ and I must say that this is something I wonder too as I’m doggedly guided by my whims and fancies. Without a beat, it follows with, ‘Are there any obstacles in your way?’ In 2021? Uh, yes. And that truly does it for me you know.
Three simple questions with no simple answers, really. Distilling a day into these three big-little answers for work, and recently as I try to do for life, has forced me to consider how much time I spend on trying to get work right and how little time I spend on reflecting on how to get life right. I don’t journal. I don’t really meditate regularly. I am not religious or spiritual. I do not say affirmations in the steamy mirror after showering. I don’t really even like TED Talks. I have never woken up with the desire to do anything except scroll Twitter with one eye open.
My only consistent act of self-care also happens to be something that has changed my life. You already know that I’m referring to therapy. It has in many ways become shorthand for self-care and for good reason. I have been in and out of therapy for years. I actually enjoy it but I think that can be credited to my last-born narcissism and my general gossipy nature. I understand myself best when I have to verbalize my thoughts and so having a weekly conversation with a trusted professional has unreservedly upgraded my life. We’re essentially gossiping about me. I’m not in the type of therapy that includes homework, which suits my slacker nature down to the ground. Instead, it’s just a sort of free-associative, slam poetry-esque conversation that never ends up where it starts.
Recently, I have started habit tracking. I should have done this years ago. I am a simple creature who likes to break things down into chunks that can be ticked off at the end of the day with a little gamification thrown in for good measure. It’s soothing to see a little row of check marks. I only have four habits: read, write, exercise, and meditate. If I had to write a recipe for my own sense of achievement, those would be the ingredients. It feels kind of silly that it’s so simple. I might feel complex and I think I’ve romanticized this idea about myself but really these are the four things that I know make me happier. Importantly, these are also four things that I’m in control of. More importantly, right now, these are four things that are lockdown-proof and available to me in my bedroom if I so wish. I think my three-question bot buddy would be proud of the simplicity.
If you’re curious, here’s how I’m tackling these habits:
- For reading, I’m still reading Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other.
- For exercise, I’m back on my Chloe Ting thing.
- For meditating, I’m using Headspace.
- For writing, well, I’m happy to be here.