Sunday, August 27, 2017

Much ado about to do’s

We want to do more. It seems as if we always do and that’s fine. But we have to know when to push and when to ease off the gas pedal.

Burn out is a reality and it often happens because of pride or guilt. Pride because we go all Tony Montana and pretend that even if we get shot dozens of times we can still keep going and take on the world. I know the feeling and I’ve done this. It’s pretty stupid, but I get it. On the other hand, Guilt refers to those moments where you keep going because “you should be doing more”. A sentiment that is just as stupid.

Some people might be taken aback by the use of the word stupid, but it’s being used intentionally. I know you’ve done these things. I have too. And we need to call a spade a spade. It’s stupid behavior because if we had been just a little smarter, we could have done more.

Know when to ease off. Learn when and where your breaking point is and never tempt fate twice. I’m not speaking out of logic or concern for you, by the way. I try to be logical and I do care immensely for the wellbeing of people, but alas I offer the above advice based on personal experience.

I’ve experienced burnout multiple times and  your body is much smarter at knowing what’s good for you even if you don’t and it will make you pay the price for thinking you're smarter than it. Muscle spasms, migraines, stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, lower back pain, eyeball pain… seriously, we endure EYEBALL pain because we need to do more… and again, that’s just stupid.

But we still want to be productive.

We still want to do more.

There’s still so much to do.

And I agree.

I agree because I see my to-do lists and I wonder how the hell I’m going to do it all… until I do it all.

“But how?” you ask.

Simple. By knowing what you can do. And I mean REALLY knowing what you can do and by not forcing things to get done.

Most every day I make a to-do list. I write down all that I can feasibly do in the allotted time and I write it down. Sometimes I make annotations next to the task of how much time I’m going to dedicate to the task.

And you know what? I don’t always get the list done.

And you know what else? I don’t always take the time I said I would.

That’s because a to-do list is a guesstimate and it NEEDS to be treated as such. It’s what you know you can do if ALL factors (you included) align to have the perfect day.

Want to know something else? That “perfect day” never happens. And that’s OK. If you watch Groundhog day, it takes Bill Murray’s character lord knows how many attempts of the SAME day and SAME conditions to have what amounts to a perfect day.

I am not perfect. You are not perfect. None of us are perfect. And that in itself, is perfect. It means we can cross out a couple of items and feel good that we progressed.

Is there a task that you just can’t get around to? Then get around to it by whatever means it takes. Coerce yourself. Bribe yourself. Deprive yourself of the things you really want until you do that task. The fact is that often times once you start doing the thing you want to do, you hit your groove and it’s not as bad as you thought... but starting is the pain.

Some people have kids or need to take care of someone or some task and time is scant. That happens. If it’s something you have to do several times, try to decipher what is the quickest way to get it done. If there’s something you can do ahead of time and save time, do it. Be like a squirrel with your time and get a good stock pile for the winters of life.

“But that doesn’t work,” some people may say and it’s very possible. So what other options do you have? I ask because there’s always options to do the things we want to do and it’s all a question of how creative you can get. How resourceful are you when it comes to your goals and dreams? Excuses won’t win you any brownie points or medals (mind you, it’s amazing how creative we can be when it comes to excuses, but that’s another post for some other day.)

Treat your goals like a high score you need to beat. Is there a way to get a higher score? Is there a short cut? Is there a warp station or anything that helps put you in the driver seat to take the exits you want to take?

That’s the thing, a lot of people want to do a lot of things, but they either shy away from accountability or they treat it as if they’re trying out for the part of Jesus carrying the cross.

I’m not saying it’s easy. I’ll never say that. Ever. But I will say it’s doable. I’ve known to translate two text books, proofread three others, have a full time job, be there for friends, and still finish  several books in one year. I’m not saying my scenario is the hardest, not by a long shot. But I found the way to get there. Hell, in the process I even had a physical burnout and learned some lessons, but odds are there are untapped opportunities we aren’t making the most out of.

I’ve had lunch alone, learned to get up early, taken a notebook to the bathroom stall, and all in the name of achieving my goals. I’ve taken my notebooks to doctor appointments, bank lines, car repair appointments, and more. I’ve known to be exhausted but write for 5 minutes because 5 minutes is progress. I’ve also known to rest. It’s helped me to have more energy at a later time to hit my tasks harder and get more done.

If you have a physical or mental condition, these are just obstacles... unpleasant ones, yes, but try and look at them objectively as something you need to take into account for your progress. I'm not saying it's easy, I'm just saying it is not insurmountable unless you phrase it as such. Is one thing on the list the most you can do. Then cheers to progress. Can you push more? Then do. Are you not feeling well? Would you be better off resting? Are you eating right? Are you drinking enough water? Are you exercising? Are you meditating? Have you given thanks for all the potential of any given day?

You know why I pose all those questions? Because they all offer things that can help you. Because you have more control than you think. Because progress isn’t dependent solely on a list or what you do in a given day.

Goals and dreams are reached often by slow and steady progress.

Don’t beat yourself up.

Dispense with guilt.

Take care of yourself and always be honest.

You can look for excuses, you can push yourself to breaking point and past it, or you can know what you can give and how to give it and focus on the word progress and that the glass is slowly filling until completion. One drop. One step. One task. One goal.

If the list is too big. Adjust it. If the tasks are too hard. Break them down into smaller tasks or ask for help. Set pride to the side. Forget guilt. Eliminate excuses. These things will not serve you. Focus on what matters and adjust accordingly. If you do it, you’ll look back one day and ask yourself how you got so much done… and then you’ll do some more.

Peace, love, and maki rolls

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