So often we are looking to check the next thing off of our list of things to do—of goals to achieve. The list is made up of things that we want to do, have to do, would like to do, think we should do and it goes on and on. But what if we take a day, a week or a month and we don’t make a list. What if we just simply go through the day doing what feels right in the moment?
You’re probably thinking nothing will get done or I’ll forget to do something. So what! Do you really think that if you don’t write down that on Saturday at 4pm you need to go grocery shopping, your family will starve!? They won’t. But if you don’t write it down and you do it when it feels right, maybe grocery shopping will be a leisure experience and maybe you’ll end up doing it when you need to get out of the house because your kids are testing your patience. Maybe by going on the fly, you’ll have a better day and be a better mom for walking away when it felt right and not when you felt you had to do it.
For most of my life, I have thrived on making lists and checking them off. The sense of accomplishment I felt from drawing that check mark or crossing something off my list has always felt great. But what hasn’t felt great is when I haven’t gotten to something on the list.
There it sits. Big and bold. Staring at me with disappointment. And then the thoughts creep in, how could you not do that today? Why didn’t you do that? What a failure you are for not getting everything done!? How do you think you’re going to fit this in tomorrow? You’re disappointing everyone!
When we create a list, we think we are doing something good. We are acknowledging what needs to be done. We are prioritizing, scheduling and working towards an end goal. This feels like an accomplishment in itself but what we don’t realize is the deficits we are pointing out when we don’t accomplish something on the list.
Depending on the list item, the guilt from not accomplishing something may be subtle or it may cause you to breakdown and convince yourself that you’re a failure which I will tell you right here, right now— you are not! You are human!
I realized the impact of what I am going to call list deficit when I was creating my list of self care items for Self Care Society this past week. I would make my list at 5am, and around 730pm I would sit back down and revisit what I had done and what I didn’t. And then I would get discouraged when something wasn’t done. But let’s be real—how in the world am I supposed to know how the day is going to go at 5am!?
You’re probably thinking that I should prioritize my self care and get it done no matter what the day throws at me because that’s the advice I’d give you. You’re right, I should. And I do. But I don’t always get to cross all of the things off my list.
The thing is, my self care at 5am may look completely different by 730pm due to life’s demands throughout the day. Life is completely unpredictable in this chapter of life with a 2 year old, a one year old and an 11 year old in virtual school at home. Lots of things can happen in a day outside of my 9-5 job. When these things would happen and I’d miss out on accomplishing the things on my list, I would feel downright disappointed in myself.
So the moral of this story is that we are already so hard on ourselves. We do not need a list of what we did and did not do in a day to fuel our insecurities. One thing Self Care Society has taught me is to focus more on setting an intention for the day. Then, how we reach or nurture that intention will change and evolve throughout the day.
It’s not about what you accomplish. It’s about living in the moment, doing what feels right at the time and letting everything else fall into place. Feel your feelings. Do what feels right when it feels right.
We have to enjoy the ride, not stress over the the bumps, the things slowing us down or the open freeway with an overwhelming set of possibilities. We have to be open to the possibility that maybe going with the flow will lead to new possibilities, new feelings, new connections, new skills, and maybe even new thought patterns that instill a new found positive mindset. Stay open to the idea that today is your day and you get to make it what you want it to be, not what your list dictates it should be.