TIME TO READ: 7 minutes
Balancing all of life’s infinite needs can be difficult. Many of us have this very bad habit of taking on way more than we can handle. In our mind, we’re superhuman. In reality, we’re mortal.
We’re often overwhelmed and up to our eyeballs in lists, goals, plans, obligations, and commitments and yet at the end of each day, we feel like we barely got much of anything done, despite feeling fried. As soon as we walk in the door, a part of us just wants to “Netflix and Chill,” while the other part has this sinking feeling of guilt, like we haven’t done crap.
This used to bother me. Being self-employed and in control of my own schedule, I would wrestle with myself every day.
I have to go to the gym now.
I need to read this book.
I have to answer that email.
Should I be doing X or Y? Which is more important? I didn’t know where to draw lines.
When do you stop working and go catch up with old friends?
I’d often relax to read a book and my mind would scream at me to get back to work.
How does one organize their day without any direction?
How do I know if I’m moving in the right direction and not getting left behind?
This was the tug of war that waged on in my mind.
The fatigue and anxiety I felt were at an all time high, until…I stopped fighting it.
If I wanted to shut off emails for a few days, I did. If I was tired, I slept. I didn’t grind myself down to the edge.
Life is hard enough so why add to it?
I realized those feelings–where the mind pulls in opposite directions–arise out of comparison.
Well so and so is doing this. So and so just did that.
We (falsely) think we gotta keep up with Mr. Jones even though we don’t have the slightest clue about what’s really going on behind the white picket fence. We think we know but just because something looks the part don’t mean it's true.
And so I shut out every voice in my head that wasn’t my own. Through introspection, I thought about what makes me, and only me, happy. What is my personal definition of success? And if I found myself resisting a path, then I took a step back to unpack the reason and gauge if I was going in the right direction.
If one chases a big pay check, but finds it difficult to make the sacrifices and work the hours necessary then maybe they are climbing the wrong mountain.
I know this approach requires self-discipline to not let yourself be a bum, but a constant state of guilt over what I was not doing rather than what I was doing really kills the joy in the present moment. And at the end of the day, all we have is right now.
We can easily beat ourselves up when we think in the short term. We get anxious when things aren’t happening fast enough or the way we want them to. It’s important to be patient with ourselves, but move quickly with our actions. When I don't feel like I’m doing enough, I remind myself there’s no fire, no rush, and life is very long.
One blog a week doesn’t seem like a lot until a year from now when I’ll have 52. Or in two years when I’ll have 104. We overestimate what we can do in a week. Underestimate what we can do in a year.
Don’t punch yourself out in the first round. There’s 11 more to go.