What is it you’re trying to do?

I have a few sticky notes around my monitor to help me stay focused when I’m writing essays for school. One of these says, “Why is this important?” It reminds me that every bit of information I include in a paper needs to be relevant to the thesis. It helps me cut down a long paper or focus a paper that’s wandering.

I just added another one and realized that I can apply it to life, not just to writing. This one says, “What is it you’re trying to do?”

I’m finding that I’m trying to take more of a position in my work this semester. I’m trying to be less neutral about what I read and how I respond and it’s been difficult. I feel like I can sort out an author’s argument but I hesitate to judge it. At some point I have to make this leap and determine if I agree — not just question if the author has argued well, or justified their claim sufficiently.

But beyond school assignments, I’m nearing another crossroads and wondering where I’m going to turn next. “What is it you’re trying to do” suggests we need to evaluate what our choices mean. If I keep heading down a path of post secondary education, whether that’s in history or another discipline, eventually that’s going to lead me somewhere…but is that where I want to go? What is it I’m trying to do? If I leave academia that will open and close other opportunities. What is it I’m trying to do?

I think the same applies to parenting, gardening, cleaning the house, relationships and more. What is it you’re trying to do? What is it you do each day and do these things point to the same goal? I don’t really know that I’ve been concrete about having goals but it’s come to my attention that it’s time to attend to this part of my life.

I think it’s about conscious living. Making choices because it’s what we want, it’s the road we want, not because it’s the easiest one, the one we “should” take, or the one directly in front of us. Eventually we will arrive somewhere and if we haven’t given any thought to where we want to be, we may find that getting on track will require some heavy duty detouring. Or we may find that we’ve made a big mess of things. Either way, I’ve got to pay more attention to the little things as part of a bigger picture.


  1. Janna, 15. October 2008, 11:39

    Great Post. I’ve just started grad school and find that I spend time wandering on the issues I’m supposed to be researching, and generally procrastinating. So now, I’ve started a set of post-its on my monitor as well. Thanks!

  2. Candace, 15. October 2008, 21:33

    Glad to hear it. I told my first year tutorial students about it last year but I don’t know if any of them believed me.

    Where are you and what are you studying this year? I’ve heard so many great things about you that I’m sure you’re headed for amazingness.

  3. Janna, 15. October 2008, 23:31

    I’m at Waterloo doing my masters in requirements engineering/HCI. It’s different than I expected but has been a great experience so far. I’ve heard great things about you as well from Boulos and others. What are you working on now?

  4. Skye, 24. October 2008, 19:04

    Oh, now you’re trying to make me think actual thoughts… can’t I wait until the kid is sleeping through the night?


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