Introducing Project Sharon

Last year at this time I was full of plans and projects. This year I’m tired and burned out and uncertain. I don’t know what I want to do with my year. I certainly don’t want to think of anything as a challenge. Maybe later I’ll want to be challenged, but I’m not feeling it right now.

What I want is to be happy. I say that, and I cringe as I do. It sounds selfish and simpleminded. It probably is, but it also sounds necessary. I don’t want to promise anyone anything. I don’t want to force myself to complete things I’ve lost interest in. I just want to look forward to the day when I wake up in the morning.

I’ve decided then that my main project this year will be just that — figuring out how to be the me I’m most satisfied with rather than the me that accomplishes the most or the me that impresses others the most. My project is just going to be working on myself however I feel like working on myself and in whatever way seems to work out the best in terms of furthering my basic health and happiness.

I’ve seen a number of people in the past week post goals for the month in lieu of resolutions for the year. I like that idea so much I’m going to take it a step further and just post goals for the week. I don’t know that I will keep this up all year. I’ve decided not to force myself to keep up anything once it becomes a drudgery. I’m just going to start out posting weekly goals for myself and see what happens from there.

So here we go. My goals for this week are as follows:

Walk 15 miles (not all at once, but through the course of the week)
Eat mostly healthy food
Get my classes organized for the new semester
Carry the books that I brought home from the office last summer back to the office (yes, I still have boxes from my office move stacked up in my house)
Take some pictures
Set aside some quiet time each day just for thinking

There are other things I want to do. I’ve started several books in the past few days, and I hope to finish at least one of them this week. I also hope to go to lunch with a friend, which should be a boost to general happiness, and I hope to catch up on some ends I’ve left loose a little too long, which should help to alleviate stress.

In my mind, of course, I want to not just finish one book this week, but finish one hundred books this year, and I want to not just walk 15 miles this week, but build up to being able to walk the Appalachian Trail this summer. I just can’t commit to big goals right now, however. I have to get up each day and commit to that day. Anything else is setting myself up to feel like a failure.

Is it even possible for an out-of-shape woman in her forties with a history of multiple health issues to ever reach the point of being able to hike the Appalachian Trail? I don’t know. I’d like to find out one day. Right now, though, I just want to find out if I can walk three miles at a time on my elderly treadmill. I want to find out if I’ll feel better when or if I do.

I live a busy, chaotic life most of the time. I word hard, but I’m largely dysfunctional at things most people do just to live a life. I’m not shy in writing, but I’m painfully shy in person. I’m an introvert. My head is always somewhere other than where I am. I don’t know how to say no to work. I take on more than I can handle. I don’t sleep enough. I don’t interact with other people enough because I only really talk to groups of people I’m standing in front of or individuals I know really well. I’m moody, disorganized, and prone to dwell on things I can’t change.

If ever anyone qualified for being a project, it’s me.

When I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, I found it very frustrating. I thought anyone could feel better about themselves with enough money and enough free time to wander the world in search of self-indulgent pleasures and spiritual comforts. I have neither money nor time. Whatever I discover about myself, whatever I do to make myself feel better will have to be done right here in the same crazy, messy life I already have.

Thus, the real point of Project Sharon is not so much to post weekly goals and then report on whether I’ve met them. It’s more about taking the time to examine the life I lead as I’m living it. It’s about trying to figure out what I can do to live a better life right where I am.

This idea is not original to me. I’m at least partly inspired by The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, which I’ve just started reading. My project may or may not look anything at all like hers in the end, but the motivation is the same. I just want to have a better year this year than I had last year, and I’ve got to start somewhere. I might as well start with me.

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