Stop Trying to Improve

Type in the words “trying to improve” into a Google search engine. You know how Google has that cool auto populate? Well guess what comes up when you pause and let Google do it’s magic.

Trying to improve your memory

Trying to improve upon

Trying to improve your work

Trying to improve your mood

Trying to improve your life…..

If you actually let the rainbow wheel stop spinning and press enter, the first three links you can click offer “60 small ways to improve your life”, “10 things to do every day to improve your life” and “27 steps to a better you”.

WHOA. That’s a lot of counting. And a lot of conscious things that someone else identified as ways that tell me I can do better.

Today, I am in a space where I am sick of trying to improve. We can work on our selves, our careers, our relationships, our co-workers, our outlook, our private time, our socializing, our food, our health, our brains, our habits, our teeth, our ANYTHING. Here’s what bothers me – how do we know when we’ve successfully improved – how do we quantify it, measure it, say YES, I’m finally improved. Because there is always going to be something else I need to improve upon! What got me spinning off onto this rant?

We joined a gym this weekend. It’s kinda expensive…. but it really helps my mental health and relieves my back pain from sitting in an office chair all day. Trust me, I’ve done the calculations, and figure if I go 3 times a week its more than worth it.  So, this morning, I packed my work out clothes and at 5 pm changed to my running shorts and shoes and was excited to go to the gym. And as I was leaving my co-worker asked how I was going to work out. “I’m off the gym – we finally joined – and I’m excited.” “What are you going to do?” he asked. “Just run, probably the elliptical” I replied. He smirked… “why go the gym when you can just run outside. It’s so nice outside,” he said. I muttered a response, and got in my car, feeling, well, a little bit bothered.

I’m trying to improve myself, my health, use my financial resources in a better way to grow my savings account and take care of myself during this somewhat overwhelming time of wedding planning and life and dammit someone was questioning why I wasn’t just running outside! I got to the gym, hopped on the lousy elliptical, and kicked my frustrations and thoughts out with each step. If I spend all of my moments trying to improve, I lose myself. If I set goals with others approval in mind, I lose. If I am always thinking about how to boost my savings account, or manage my time better, or obsess about eating  healthier, I lose. No one else does – just me. And so, this week. I’m giving myself the freedom to be – to not improve – to be in this time of life and be ok. I ate a big cookie at lunch, I had a diet coke (GUILTY OF CARCINOGENS), I joked about wanting to be at the gym for “bridal arms”, and I ran, on the elliptical, rather than outside.

And you know what was beautiful? The sizes and shapes and ages of people at the gym. Each there with different motivations and reasons for their participation in that sorta snobby world. We are all trying to just be – be us – maybe with some goals in mind – but I liked the physical diversity of people there tonight. I don’t talk to people at the gym… that would be intimidating; I’m new at this.

photo 1

And the sky was beautiful – isn’t summer light just really enjoyable. One of the best things of our apartment is we have a west facing view – right over Horstetooth Rock – and the sun sets really nicely into our kitchen window each evening. Our landlord got us blinds – hallelujah! – and now I can enjoy those really strong beams of light. With the trees now having leaves, and the drainage ditch – err – “stream” running behind the apartment, the sunlight plays in the trees really nicely.

photo 2

I catch myself staring at it as I cook dinner at 7 pm – because I’m busy – and I don’t have time to go to the gym AND get dinner on the table by 6. Psh, Dylan isn’t even home by six, and I certainly don’t sport pearls so once again, I’m letting go of that image I’m trying to improve. And I forgive myself for the iPhone quality photos of light. Again – I could take a class, learn about shutter speed, learn how to better capture this beauty, and improve the communication of just how much I enjoy this scene is in my house every day. But whoop – I’m not going to. Instead of focusing on what I could do better, I’m trying to change my perspective to what I’m already doing well. I think I’m juggling a lot right now – tasks, emotions, anticipations, hopes and dreams – and managing pretty well. And hey, I like the elliptical.  What are you proud of yourself for doing right now? What “improvement” can you let go of?

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7 comments

  1. Katie, I think it’s great that you joined a gym and are working out. You’re right such a stress-reducer and good to get moving after sitting in an office chair all day. You’ve found what works for you and are going with it, which is great!

    I am juggling a lot right now too: preparing to move, planning a bridal shower for my best friend before I move, and finishing up the last 3 weeks of work. I may not be doing any of these things the way other people think I should but I have peace that these are the right decisions for me and the way I want to do them since it’s my life. Right now, I am happy with myself for simply putting one foot in front of the other and continuing to move forward slowly but surely.

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