As I write this, I’ve just finished up a list of everything that I need to accomplish between now and the New Year.
There are just three items on that list — and I am both shocked and excited by that.
It’s been a very long road from where I was (the crazed over-achiever who used planners, calendars, and to-do lists of every form to hold herself to both high and strict standards of productivity and accomplishment) to where I am now (a slightly less-crazed achiever who has redefined productivity and accomplishment in a way that is much less punishing and much more filling).
I’ve talked a bit in the past about the importance of time in my mindfulness journey (like here) – not just to understand where, how, and who I use my time on, but also to be ok with where, how, and who I use my time on. This blog post is meant to address that second part.
I spent many years believing that I could handle everything that came my way and that, with the help of my calendars and endless lists, I could achieve balance. I’d always refer back to my high school years, where I would effortlessly juggle class work, volunteer work, and leadership roles in three or four school groups, as evidence that its possible and can still be done. I’ve since been (very happily) dispelled of that delusion.
What I saw as balance in high school was really me exercising my passion. Everything that I did back then, I wanted to do. I did all of those things because they felt like a natural extension of my interests and talents. So, of course I was able to balance them all. It’s easy to find balance when you’re living in your sweet spot.
Now that I am out of high school and well into adulthood, the idea that I can focus only on what I am passionate about seems a lot less possible. For starters, my plate has much more on it than what I myself put there. Most of what is there is, in fact, a combination of the obligations and expectations of outside sources. The challenge that I’m faced with now is to feel that same level of obligation to myself. It’s a hard lesson that I’ve had to learn. There have been many hours, weeks, years even, spent on moving everything forward but me – hence the part about quitting.
So now I ask myself this question every single day.
What do I no longer want to do?
The answer to that question dictates how I (try to) spend my days and, more importantly, how I plan my future. It is my exercise in honesty. It is me honoring the gift of time, while I still have it. It is about eliminating the “stuff” that prevents me from feeling like I felt in high school. Quitting in order to start.
It’s about living in my sweet spot.