Everyone can do better at meeting goals by listing what we think we’re doing wrong. It’s because the pessimists of the world are more realistic. They accomplish more in life. Not that optimists want to accomplish more. They don’t. They are just happy where they are. But whatever. There is no place for someone like that on my blog.

So here’s my list of everything I’m doing wrong in my life right now.

1. The most recent bad decision I made is one second ago, when I decided that I would not write this blog post about Esther Williams. For those of you who don’t know, I used to sign autographs for her. I played volleyball in the day and signed fan mail at night.

Now that Esther is dead I can tell you that her accountant gave me the work, and her accountant was a drug addict, and she kept using the money for stamps for drugs so we were always really behind in sending out the signed photos.

Melissa was so sure that I’d write about Esther when she died, that Melissa emailed me this present. A photo of Esther Williams, cropped perfectly for the blog.

Every time someone asked Esther what her favorite book is, I would write back Great Expectations, by Kathy Acker. The book is inscrutable feminist metafiction and even my love for the concept of the book did not make me able to actually read the book. Only the commentary on the book. For those of you who worry that I write posts just for search engine traffic, now you can be sure I don’t, because I missed a chance to put Esther Williams in the title.

2. The next bad decision I’m making is not using a to do list. This is a picture of Matthew’s to do list.

He makes one every day. And he does stuff on it. I make one every day by moving all my emails from my in box to my to do list. Because I read Getting Things Done and I’m convinced it’s the right way to manage one’s day.

So then I have a gorgeously empty in box. Except that I never look at the list again, so it’s like I take all my to do items and throw them out.

This is not Getting Things Done.

It’s messed up. But, like most messed up things, I like making the bad decision every day. I like messing things up more. I don’t know why. Don’t ask me. I can’t have insight for every bullet.

3. Another thing I am doing that’s bad: inviting too many people to the farm. Here’s a photo of the view out the window of our guest bedroom.

It’s easy to get people to come to the farm because it’s heaven in the summer. Well, it’s heaven if I don’t have to talk to people. It is super stressful for me to have unstructured conversations. Coaching calls are great. I get to talk to interesting people, and we have a common goal: to solve a career problem. And there’s an end point so we have to stay focused.

If someone comes to visit, it’s not like that. When Ian came to visit I worried about the time in between working where we were sort of working and sort of not working. It turned out fine. We worked most of the time. But there are all these other people coming to visit. And I have anxiety. I hate visitors. I have a guest bedroom but I’m scared to use it.

When I am inviting people to come visit, it sounds so fun: gather eggs! feed goats! hear the breeze! see the stars! but the day before they are going to get here, I want to die. I panic that I won’t have any alone time. I panic that there will be obligatory social skills moments that elude me. I worry the guest will never want to go to sleep. But I keep inviting people. It’s messed up.

And what’s really messed up is that I usually like having them here. Once they’re here. But the anxiety I have before they get here is so high that it’s probably not worth it.

But I wonder: is the bad decision to invite people or is the bad decision to write this on my blog and offend everyone who is coming anyway?

4. I am gardening too much. This is not going to help my life. It’s obsessive. And I am becoming an addict, I think, because if I don’t have something new to plant each day then I start moving stuff I’ve already planted. Matthew says I build my garden like it’s made of Lego.

I got a bid for someone to do hardscaping in a new part of the yard. And the bid was $15,000. So I did it myself. For like $4000. And forty million hours of work. I tell myself to do computer work and then the garden. And I don’t do that. I tell myself I have to get the kids to bed before 9:30pm but I can’t do it because the last hour of sunlight is such a nice time to garden.

Also, if I keep putting photos of my garden on my blog then the men will think it’s not a blog for men, and they’ll stop reading. And it will be no fun. It’s no fun without the men.

5. There should be a fifth photo here. People like odd numbered lists. I am not putting one.

So listing things that you are doing wrong is a great exercise. Because then you can decide, will you change it or will you continue? And if you continue it’s not wrong. It’s something that, given the circumstances, is best for you now.

Like it’s better that there is not a fifth photo. I’m at 1000 words. You don’t want to read any more than that. Go make your own list of bad things you are doing.


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  1. Alisa
    Alisa says:

    I just wanted to let you know that if you invited me to the farm, I’d self-entertain. So maybe that’s how you can turn the bad decision into good ones — invite the right kind of people!

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