When was the last time you finished your to-do list?
I mean, really.
When was the last time you felt like you were done doing.
Yeah, me too.
You’re not alone. Many of us carry around this sack of feelings centered around the notion that I SHOULD BE working.
This can ring especially true for leaders and entrepreneurs.
Take my recent holiday as an example.
For the typical winter break my husband and I took two weeks off to be with family and rest. Or so we told ourselves.
It was remarkably difficult to keep the computer closed and the busy brain turned off. In fact, near the end of our time off, my husband copped to feeling guilty that he hadn’t done more.
It was similar for me.
As we reflected on our vacation we started talking about the way the our to do lists reshape themselves every day and how tempting it is to think that the measure of a good day is ticking off everything on the list.
We never finish our lists.
Have you ever felt this way—that no matter what you do it’ll never end? How heavy is your sack of guilt and internal pressure to do more and be more productive? Seriously, I’m curious. Hit reply now and tell me.
What the heck? Where did this mindset come from?
Let’t break it down.
Did you know that we inherited this way of thinking? We didn’t invent the story that who we are equates to what we accomplish and trust me, it’s not a symptom you face alone.
Rather, we swim in a sea that tells us that hard work is the most important thing and that we are what we accomplish. This sea has a name: USA business culture, which was learned from Northern European culture more broadly.
Good news, though: this is only one way to view the world. There is another way!
Swimming in the sea of business culture the norm is to cram every corner of the 24 hour day with something to do. “Doing”, in this sea, is the default mode of operating.
That same 24 hour window contains other stuff, though:
- There are the moments to feel loved and to love another.
- There are moments of wonder, small and large.
- There is food and drink, worth savoring.
- If you’re lucky, there is time in nature—even walking down the street counts.
- Precious sleep.
- The sweetness of movement in our bodies.
- Music, poetry, art, theatre, film, fiction, and all creative passions introduce us to other sensations.
Embracing the aspects of our lives that help us step away from doing is a great way to practice shifting your mindset.
Additionally, there are some lovely affirmations that can help to reinforce this.
As we jump into the murky pool of 2021, say with me (I mean it! Say this stuff out loud!):
- “I did enough today”
- “I am enough.”
- “I am choosing to do this and to NOT do that.”
Here’s the thing. When we allow ourselves to feel less-than or feel badly that we haven’t produced enough, it robs us of the moments of pleasure, rest, connection, and rejuvenation that are so essential to our very human survival.
I commit to different choices today.
I am aware that the list of things I can do at work is evergreen and constantly shifting.
I am working on adding to the top of the list the moments of non-work that enliven and lift my heart, enrich my mind, connect to my home people, and strengthen my body.
I prioritize time with my beloveds or moments of presence in nature over the relentless escalator of doing more and getting that next thing done.
The shocking result?
I am more. I have more. More energy, more kindness, more compassion, more creativity, more inspiration, more gratitude, more health.
Working hard is something I value still, certainly.
But is it the only thing that matters?
What would it mean for you if you put down the burden of always doing more?