I don’t spend much time loafing. I work hard 9-5, I work hard in my personal business, and I’m always trying to learn new things. In the end, I’m usually working, cooking, meditating, reading something instructive, or doing something constructive. Normally, this isn’t a problem, but a few weeks ago I started criticizing myself over some things left undone. The most important things on my to-do list hadn’t budged for several weeks. I knew that I should do these items, but I didn’t. Then I felt bad for it, resulting in a rare bit of anxiety. I blamed myself for a lack of follow-through, a lack of motivation, and general laziness – even though I’d been pretty busy with other tasks that were also important that couldn’t be postponed.
A talk with a friend showed me how silly I was being. I have the power to make the list; I have the power to revise it. I had a talk with myself and stopped pressuring myself. I re-thought my to-do list and cut myself some slack. The self-criticism just wasn’t helping, so I let that go too. After all, my heart is a good compass, and the brain has very little idea of where to go. It is up to my heart to know what I need to do and the brain’s job to make it happen. I should have known when I felt bad about my work that something about my approach was wrong. Somewhere in there, my heart took a back seat and the brain came up with what it thought I should do. As much as my brain thinks it knows everything, it doesn’t. My heart not only knows what should be done – it also knows when I’m not ready. In this case, my brain had the right list – but it hadn’t consulted my heart on the timing. I was forcing events to happen too soon.
I had to let go of some of the less critical things. My blogging schedule, for example, already looks like a train wreck the first month I tried a schedule. I went back to doing it when it I could and chucked the schedule. Whew! That felt better. Then, I did some things that felt like the right thing to do, but they were nowhere close to being high enough priority to go on my list. My brain started to berate myself for a lack of focus, but I knew that this just wasn’t the case. I was getting back in sync with myself which is always the cure for any anxiety I invent for myself. In the end, those extra things gave me more information and skills, so that when I finally did start the most difficult thing on the list, I was more capable and ready.
So all that time I agonized about not getting anything done, I was wrong. I was just getting all the preliminary matters done that I hadn’t known were needed. In the end, it all worked out in perfect order and timing. I can be so silly sometimes! Now, my list says it’s time to relax and read a book that has some tantalizing information waiting to be revealed!
Have you ever torture yourself with a to-do list that is impossible to achieve? How do you deal with it?