Fulfilling My Core Needs: How I'm Learning To Spend My Energy

I am a person that has a very active imagination and very restless hands – in the sense that I often have hundreds of ideas running through my head at any given time, and I want to start working on all of those projects at that very moment.

As you might imagine, this is both a blessing and a curse.

It’s a blessing, because I have no shortage of ideas when it comes to what to create next. This list ranges from edits I make to my website and building my next one, to gifts to make for friends, to projects I want to crochet, to paintings I want to create. For a while, I had multiple idea logs in multiple notebooks, in my head, and in my phone, but I’m slowly learning to consolidate them into my bullet journal.

Fulfilling My Core Needs: How I'm Learning To Spend My Energy

It’s a curse, because I have had to learn that my time is limited. I think this was supposed to be a lesson that I learned in college, but as an architecture student, I just sacrificed sleeping in favor of building my extremely time-intensive study models. Unfortunately, this method was not particularly sustainable then and is definitely not sustainable now.

Over the first two months of the year, I created a Star Wars blanket for my boss and got fairly unnecessarily stressed about it. I wanted to finish it in time for his baby’s birth, but I also made it a lot bigger than it needed to be in order to have the characters I wanted to crochet. It became a huge point of anxiety for me, even though it was a project I had undertaken myself and had no real consequence if it was unfinished by the end of February!

All in all, the pain points can be boiled down to:

  • Creating projects that are more complex than they need to be;
  • Giving myself deadlines for complex projects that were not fully reasonable;
  • and, most importantly: sacrificing my own health and well-being for the sake of the happiness of a friend.

In the end, my significant other had to sit me down and have a talk with me about how I needed to put myself first. He told me that I should figure out what my “core needs” were, and work on fulfilling those before moving on to other projects.

My core needs fall fairly easily into two buckets: things I needed to do to survive, and things I needed to do to keep me happy. My SO likes to say that he’s happy as long as I’m “happy and healthy”, so we started with that as the framework for figuring out what my needs were.

Fulfilling My Core Needs: How I'm Learning To Spend My Energy

Things I need to do to survive are fairly easy: I need to eat and I need to sleep. However, for me, I think they’re often easier said than done! I’ve talked about my struggle with structured, proper eating before, when I did my Inktober series last year; my sleep cycle was fairly annihilated in college and I still work on sleeping a regular amount and actually prioritizing sleeping. Even though I haven’t been out of college for that long, my ability to survive on 4 hours of sleep has seriously deteriorated – perhaps I was never really able to function on 4 hours of sleep, I was just better at pushing my body through it.

I’m attempting to establish a regular sleeping schedule for myself to get around my poor sleep habits, so I’ve been trying to go to bed by 11 pm and to wake up at 6 am. I don’t always succeed at this – not going to lie, daylight savings time really threw a wrench in this, surprisingly – but I’m working on it. I was like clockwork for a few weeks, and I’m working on getting back to that.

Fulfilling My Core Needs: How I'm Learning To Spend My Energy

Things I need to keep me happy were a little different to figure out. Painting and creating was an easy one to decide on – creating with my hands has always been my lifeline. I’m currently working on painting every day this month, and when it was hard to establish this last month in October, it’s become a great habit to maintain this time around. I’m hoping to join in on The 100 Day Project and paint every day starting April 3rd as well.

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Baymax: 31 Days of Movie Scenes

I’m also working on my Etsy shop, a project that I started not-so-long ago and has become a cute little space that I’m working on creating for myself, and a side commission project that has been ongoing for a while. Both of these things have been great places to invest my energy in: seeing the things I create turn into real, tangible products is every artist/designer’s dream come true. I do this for work already; now I get to do it for play.

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Printable Personal Growth Tracker on Etsy
A cute little page I made that I’m using to keep track of my daily painting – you can use it for any creative pursuits you might have, or just get it as a coloring page!

Other things that keep me happy are things that I try to do to keep my anxiety manageable. I like to have my space organized – as everyone says, a cluttered space is a cluttered mind, so keeping my room organized goes a long way for keeping my mind organized as well. I use my bullet journal, stripped back and minimal, to keep my mind even more organized. I like to read, because it expands my worldview and teaches me how to be a better writer, a better reader, a better creator, and a better person. I like to make my yarn crafts and sew, and although neither are my biggest priorities, I keep coming back to the fact that I still haven’t knitted myself socks or a sweater. I promise, it’ll eventually happen.

Figuring out my core needs ended up being simpler than I expected, though I’m still trying to figure out how I can incorporate them into my bullet journal’s habit tracker to better track how I’m doing. I think one of the hardest things I’ve had to grasp is that I need to put myself and my own happiness before the happinesses of the people around me. I think Gretchen Rubin says it the best in The Happiness Project:

One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.

Fulfilling My Core Needs: How I'm Learning To Spend My Energy

I think the people that truly love me will understand me taking time for myself, focusing on myself, and figuring out how to be happy for myself for a while. Spending my energy on myself, for once, will help make me happy: I’ve been doing this for about a month now (I started mid-February), and I’m already feeling like I’m in a better place!

All in all, figuring out my core needs and trying to invest my energy in myself has become a great way to boost my own happiness. What about you? What do you do to keep yourself in a good place, and do you have a “core needs” strategy? What are your “core needs”? I’d love to know!

Fulfilling My Core Needs: How I'm Learning To Spend My Energy

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