Posted from: the train – Vienna to Frankfurt
How do you stay motivated when you are cleaning or sorting out things to donate? Me, I listen to “minimalist” videos at 1.5x or 2.0x speed on YouTube. On one such rare Saturday morning I was home this past fall, I hit play on a video. Sticking my phone in the back pocket of my jeans, I left it to play whatever videos YouTube’s algorithm decided were ‘Up Next.’
Barely paying attention to the quick paced background noise provided by an assortment of vloggers, I sorted through my closet and boxes of stuff. I relocated to the designated boxes all the items I could donate, or that really should just go in recycling or trash. Since I only take the donation box to the donation place twice a year, it is pretty much an exercise in shuffling things around my apartment.
The voice coming out of my pocket started talking about her “fantasy self” after awhile. It took until she said the term four or five times before I really registered that it was a weird turn of phrase.
Then I got curious.
The term is semi-self-explanatory but after giving the video my full attention for 60 seconds, the minimalist had moved on. I was more interested in learning about this fantasy self concept than whatever she had managed to minimize most recently. So, I did what everyone does when they’re online and want to know something, I Google’d it. The basic gist is that your Fantasy Self is who you think you are versus who you really are. For example, my Fantasy Self does yoga all the time. My real self does did yoga probably 10 times last year. But my yoga mat is always out on my living room floor for me to use when I do yoga… you get the picture, right?
We actually touch on this subject a little bit in the programs we run training start-ups and corporates for work. Except, we call that portion of the lecture “customers always lie.” They don’t do it on purpose. They too have a fantasy self. So, we have to teach our students how to do interviews in a way that will get the real information. Not the fantasy information so when they act on what they learned, they aren’t going down the wrong path. The same is true for personal reflections on the fantasy self. Since I like examples, let’s diver deeper into that yoga thing. (Going forward, Fantasy Self = FS and Real Self = RS, because I’m lazy.)
Do I do yoga?
My FS says “yes, of course I do”. So, she has a line item in her monthly budget allocating $90 for the unlimited pass at the yoga studio. She uses the yoga mat – covered by a yoga rug – that’s always rolled out on the living room floor. Her living room is arranged around its presence. When mom asked if she needed a second mat, she said yes. Because then she could have one to take with her when she travels. She has yoga clothes – 2 pants and 2 tops – and at times battle the urge to buy more of each.
My RS does yoga about once a month and doesn’t actually buy the monthly yoga studio membership. Instead, she spends that $90 budget on other things during the month. She sits and stretches on the yoga rug/mat in the living room about once a week. Usually after biking home from the train station – if there isn’t stuff on it. RS doesn’t travel with a yoga mat because when she does make time to workout when traveling for work, she runs. She almost always only takes carry-on luggage, a yoga mat would take up too much space. She wears the yoga pants a little more often than actually does yoga (I’m not sure this a good thing…) Wears the yoga tops more often than the pants and resists the urge to buy more yoga clothes because there’s already too much in the closet.
Doing this little exercise in FS vs RS is incredibly helpful for self-awareness when you are trying to prioritize goals, tasks and life in general. It’s not a coincidence that I’ve upped my blog postings this year. And it’s not because it’s a new year’s resolution. My FS has been a travel blogger with a travel website since 1999. My RS had an Angelfire site I coded a blog for before there were blogs. I posted about each trip I went on – so once a month or more on average.
I moved to iWeb sometime after 2005. Until Apple stopped supporting iWeb in 2008 or 2009 and when my iWeb software crashed, I lost everything. I also joined Facebook about around the time I moved to iWeb. In an attempt to recreate my site on Blogger in 2009, I made like six posts for my college English class that year. Then I tried my hand at re-establishing on WordPress in 2010. I have published less than a dozen posts since then. I publicly declared in this post from 2016 that I was going to restart my website. Then continued to fight with WordPress to make it do what I wanted to do. (HTML has grown well beyond my mid-90’s knowledge – Java? CSS? WTF?)
In 2016 and 2017, I tinkered around a bit. Mostly I just changed between themes. None of them satisfied me. But I never devoted enough time to my website and blogging to pay someone the $100 it would probably cost to buy a theme I like.
I also drafted dozens of blog posts and outlined a number of ideas. I have handwritten posts spread between two or three notebooks. On the backs and fronts of 6 sheets of origami paper I bought at the Japanese Tea Garden’s gift shop when I realized I left my notebook at home one day. Currently there are 42 “Drafts” in my WordPress Dashboard. As I write this in Note, while wi-fi-less on the train from Munich to Salzburg, I have at least a dozen draft posts in the list of Notes in the left sidebar menu. I haven’t not been writing, I just haven’t been posting.
Over the years, people always ask if I blog about my travels or tell me I should write a book. I always say ‘I have a half-assed site I maintain. Due to various technical hurdles and fights over the years, it’s not really kept up-to-date’. So, what’s changed?
A bit of a convergence of things:
- In 2017, I actually started writing the travel book my FS has been going to write for the past 5 years.
- That means I need some publicity to get traction. Something digital for people to find because single-modal delivery has limited success these days and bringing this twisty-turny post full circle.
- I heard a YouTube video which shoved in my face that I should own up to the differences between my FS and my RS. Then either make the necessary changes to close the gap or accept I’m not my FS and let go of those fantasies.
Let’s be clear – your FS and your goals are different things. Goals are things you are actively working towards. FSs are things (maybe even goals) that you say you “are doing” or “will do” but you aren’t actually doing anything to make them happen. With all of that being said, I decided in December I would take myself to task. Either close the gap between my FS and my RS or accept I’m not said Fantasy Self. Stop deluding myself and holding space for those fantasy.
Where that leaves me with this website and blog is with a 3 and 6 month plan of action. If, by March 31, I haven’t purchased a theme I like and published at least one post a week then I’ll shut it all down. If I make it to April 1st, then I’ll keep up my goal to post at least once a week. Then I’ll evaluate the current site to set some new goals around traction so I have metrics to weigh against on June 30th. When July 1st comes around, if I’m still on target of posting once a week AND I have good traction, I’ll keep going. If not, I’m shutting it down.
Since drafting this post on the train from Munich to Salzburg, I bought a WP theme. I’m editing and posting this 36 hours later on the train from Vienna to Frankfurt. Yay, me!
So, that’s where I am, at least with my Fantasy Travel Blogger Self. You’ll see annotations in my blog posts going forward with “(FS)” to let you know what other areas I am working to close the gap on as well. For all you knitters out there reading this, we as knitters call this balancing of FS and RS destashing… 🙂
If you’re wondering who that voice in my pocket was, it was Allison Anderson, the Messy Minimalist. You can check out her video: Decluttering my Fantasy Self on her YouTube channel.
What do you think about this idea of the Fantasy Self: intriguing or a load of hooey?