When People Ask “How Are You?”

Lately, when people ask how I’m doing or what my plans are when I’m officially done with graduate school in five weeks, I tell them some variation of this: “I’m just trying to take it day by day.” Because truthfully, that is what I’m doing. While I know I’ll need to get a job, and I know I’ll never stop writing, that’s the extent of my plan.

But today, as I wrote my stock “taking it day by day” reply in an email to a friend, I started doubting myself. Maybe I should have more of a plan. Because in our 30s, shouldn’t we be planning more? Creating a roadmap of where we want to be in a few years? Doesn’t it feel solid and stable to have a plan?

I mulled over that today, and have been thinking about this for awhile, and I came to the conclusion that for me, it’s less about having a plan and more about having guiding principles. Values. Those guide me more than my “plan.” While I don’t know what exact job I will have in six months, I know that I will try and live kindly and simply, spend time with those people I love, and make the world a better place for people whenever I can.

I also know my “target feeling.” It’s a weird phrase that I know I’m stealing from somewhere that I don’t remember (I think it was a social anxiety blog), but the idea is that you should consider how you ideally want to feel in a given situation. So, in an ideal world, what would you want your target feeling to be for most of your days? I know I’d want to feel exuberant, generous, and in-flow with something bigger than myself. And so, I must let my choices in how I spend my time be made by what will help me achieve this “target feeling”?

I was reading quotes on writing today, and I came across this one below, that is quite appropriate to this post today.

And P.S. – If you aren’t familiar with Anne Lamott, I highly recommend you check out her work. She’s got an amazing book for writers titled Bird by Bird.

E.L. Doctorow said once said that ‘Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice on writing, or life, I have ever heard.
– Anne Lamott, Writer

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