A few days ago, I came to a realization: I approach every single day as a job, the hours filled with tasks to be completed. For years, I have gone to bed with two agendas on my night table, planning for the next day, verifying the organization of the coming week. I call this being prepared but am now wondering it if is healthy.
Since my early twenties, my goal has been PERFORMANCE. I have attempted to streamline my life, my gestures and my actions to attain full efficiency in order to maximise results in all areas of my life.
Ever since I got caught up in the Tony Robbins/Steven Covey/etc. way of thinking (Awaken the giant within/The 7 habits of highly effective people/etc), I thought that this way of approaching my life was indeed effective and allowed me to accomplish more in less time and to progress at a faster pace. The logic is simple, the more effective you are, the more you accomplish and learn. In theory, this should leave you with more time to enjoy your life and a better chance at fulfillment in all areas.
But there are a few things that derail the system. First of all, I always plan for too much and with too many tasks planned, unless I run all day (or could suddenly become wonder-woman), it is usually impossible to complete everything by bedtime, so never mind find some time for rest and leisure.
I have had trouble enjoying the simple things in life lately and my wonderful moments of peace come after a sometimes long negotiation with myself: Should I take the time for a walk outside if the clock already shows 8 AM? Can I enjoy a leisurely tea and read for an hour (something else than learning material) after lunch if I have not painted or written yet today? When I allow myself some time, my anxiety usually builds up as I am thinking of all that there is to do while the clock is ticking.
So, for the past years, my life consists of carrying on tasks in order to do as much as I can during the course of a given day. Somewhere along the way, I forgot how to give in to the magic of life. I have lost the ability to enjoy simple living, relaxing, taking my time since I always feel there is not enough time.
Given that I am focused on problem solving in all areas (and must say I am really good at it), my brain has started looking for problems to solve when there are none in my own life. I agonize over the fate of the world, that of children, of animals, the environment and try to solve all these issues in my mind and figure out how I could be the most helpful.
And since, for many reasons, such as planning too much or unforeseen events (like life…), I very rarely succeed in accomplishing everything on my list, an anticipated feeling of disappointment with myself usually creeps up at one point during the day. But no matter, the planning ritual repeats itself again and again.
All these years, I blamed my inefficiency at accomplishing everything I planned to do for the general feeling of discontent that often invades my mind instead of thinking that I am just expecting too much of myself.
For sure, I have been unhappy with the fact that I have not been painting lately. The last eight months have been challenging for several reasons, one of them a move that implied three months of intense renovations before we moved and still more to come after.
But even if some thankless tasks are inevitable and must be accomplished, we cannot approach life as if it was only work every day. Even my leisure time has become work at this point. I don’t give myself permission to relax. I lost the ability to live in the moment.
My end-of-year reflection has already begun and I see that I will have to be in catch-up mode to relearn how to have fun and feel rewarded for other things than that of the satisfaction of the successfully completed task.
It is long overdue!
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