The Best Intentions

I get excited by Mondays. I guess it’s because I’m a planner, a list-maker, a schemer, and nothing speaks to the possibility of fulfillment like a Monday morning. The whole week stretches out before me like a hilly country road, potholed by meetings and appointments but open and wide, ready to be traveled.

I work for myself, so I guess this Monday-morning-mushfest might sound kind of sick to those of you who don’t. If you have another boss, maybe the workweek is not a road but a series of five cubicles full of binder clips and deadlines. Maybe you have to choose each day to “put on the yoke,” as my mom said to me once, and pull the plow in the direction the farmer demands. Maybe you’re kicking your steel-toed work boots into the base of the first of the week’s scheduled telephone poles. You didn’t choose which one, which street to start on.

There’s a kind of joy in that, I guess, the not-deciding. Or maybe, more precisely, the choosing-not-to-have-to-decide, at-least,-not-right-now. I traded off that liberation for a different kind.

Still, I would be the first to tell you that the freedom of self-employment creates its own challenges. My week/road is bounded by a noisy gravel shoulder, full of smashed bottles and trampled, lost clothing, clusters of chickory and mullein, the travesty of roadkill. It’s an intriguing borderland I have to pull away from, rampant as it is with distraction and the potential for discovery.

To reduce the swerving off the road, this Monday I’m trying something new. I made a list of intentions for the week. Not a to-do list, because I already make one of those every day. (I’m a hardcore list-maker and my daily lists have nuanced subentries and dynamic flowchart diagrams). My intentions list is a plan for what I want out of the week rather than what I’ll do, what outcomes I want to be able to look back on from the roadside farm stand on Friday afternoon.

These outcomes are small steps toward my broader life goals and they are specific. For example, instead of a to-do-listy “work on novel,” I have “write 10 pages of novel.” It’s a subtle difference, but I think it will help me see how each day moves me closer to getting what I want out of life in the longer term. I don’t think that will stop me from slowing down to get a peek or two at those flowers in the ditch, but it will probably keep me on the road.

November 26, 2012 Blog Posts