No Seriously, You Can Take a Break!
What a snow filled, chaotic, and unpredictable week it has been for all of my Texas/Oklahoma friends! I hope that this blog post finds you safe, warm, and well cared for during yet another, unprecedented season! For those of you who are still recovering from the impacts of the snowstorm, be sure to visit HERE (TX) or HERE (OK) for information on statewide resources!
Alright y'all, it's time to get real! Let's talk productivity, expectation, and consistency...during a pandemic...or even a snowstorm!
As a society, we have been breed to believe that our productivity is the single most important factor in our purpose. For many of us, we associate self worth with tangible accomplishment, instead of prioritizing something deeper. We often view our worth through a black and white lens, ignoring any possibility for internal patience and perserverance. Essentially, many of us see life through an "all or nothing" perspective. For instance, there have been countless times where I have created a to-do list, failed to check off every task, and as a result, criticized my self worth. For me, this type of invalidating internal dialogue, only fuels this "all or nothing" mindset and often serves as the catalyst for stress, exhaustion, and anxiety. This is especially true when my everyday routine has been thrown off-kilter, requiring me to take a break from life's demands...AKA living through a huge snowstorm or an unprecedented pandemic that forces me to stay home!
In short, many of us believe that productivity is linear and over-time, as our accomplishment list grows, we can (and should) take on more responsibility. However, this instinct could not be further from the truth. It is crucial that we, as human beings, recognize that with great ambition comes great responsibility to cultivate a positive internal dialogue that allows room for mistakes, seasons of rest, and boundaries! We've all heard the saying, "life is all about balance," and IT. IS. TRUE. Achieving your goals, meeting/exceeding expectations, and establishing consistent productivity habits is not, and should not be, derived from checking off every little task on your to-do list. Instead, creating this broader sense of balance stems from practicing self awareness and intentionality in all we do, even if this means taking a day off! Before we dive into the specifics of this practice, I want to make something abundantly clear...
YOU are more than your accomplishments. YOU are allowed to take breaks. YOU are allowed to set boundaries. YOU are allowed to find happiness in areas that are not impacted by your level of productivity.
Now, you might be thinking: How on EARTH do I do this? How do I continue to achieve my goals, maintain balance, and set myself up for success when I am not constantly working?
The answer? Mindfulness.
Best defined as a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts and habits, mindfulness serves as a practice for those seeking control over their lives. In a historical, pandemic defined season of life, this type of self awareness will aid you on your journey towards establishing a sense of consistency in a world that has proven to be anything but consistent. Mindfulness can also ease the burden of expectation and a need to constantly be productive by making you conscious of your body's needs. In short, becoming aware of your thoughts, habits, and actions grants you the freedom of no longer finding your worth in your level of productivity.
Believe me, I know how difficult this can be! As a self diagnosed perfectionist and workaholic, I oftentimes struggle with separating my worth from my work ethic. This poses so many challenges, especially in light of our societal climate. I have found that when forcing myself to give 100% of my energy to every task, everyday, I am easily drained. This ultimately causes me to lose discipline and act with the "all or nothing" mindset I mentioned earlier. However, in practicing mindfulness during these moments, I have been able to take control of my habits. I am able to take a day off without internal punishment. I am able to listen to what my mind and body are asking of me, instead of just pushing forward. If you are someone who can relate to this feeling, take a moment to read these helpful tips on practicing self awareness and mindfulness!
1. Take it One Step at a Time
Self awareness is best utilized in the moments between big accomplishments. The next time you're checking of your to-do list, working out at the gym, or having a conversation-take a step back. Make a mental note of how that task makes you feel in that given moment. Does it provide comfort? Does it provide stress or anxiety? Regardless of the feeling you associate with the task, make a conscious effort to listen to what you're body is telling you! If you find that multiple tasks throughout the day are causing more harm than good, it might be time to take a step back and reevaluate your actions.
2. Set Boundaries
It is crucial to understand that your time is the most valuable resource you possess-don't waste it! Practicing mindfulness in the context of setting boundaries means saying no to an added responsibility. Setting boundaries also means putting the phone down and making rest a priority in your routine. In order for us to maintain habitual productivity habits, we have to prioritize our time in the way that we prioritize our accomplishments. This is true for both work related tasks and seasons of rest.
Self awareness in actions, habits, and feelings is an intentional practice. It requires you to stay committed to prioritizing your well being over your work ethic. Instead of making your relationship with your goals the most important commitment in your life, shift your focus to the relationship with your overall well being. Stay dedicated to building healthy habits that can sustain any challenge life throws your way!
Today I am challenging you to take notice of the little things and listen to your conscious! Remove the guilt that surrounds an unfinished to-do list and work to live presently! Remember, productivity does not determine your consistency as a human being. YOU can still show up. YOU can still persevere. YOU can still make an impact if you take a day off. Regardless of the season you find yourself in, know that practicing mindfulness will keep you grounded on the journey towards your goals! Stay diligent. Take breaks. Live Presently!