One of my 2022 goals and rhythms I wanted to grow in is holding better work/life boundaries, therefore creating more space and leading to greater rest. For me this looks like not checking work emails on Saturdays, not checking work related items before 7AM, and ending work tasks by 5PM.
At the beginning of February, all of that felt good. It felt easy and I declared by the end of week one, “This is easy! I’m cured of my ‘doing’ mentality!”
But nothing that is an ingrained habit, cultivated from an early age, observed by the environment you grew up in, is ever culled out of your life that easily. Not without a fairy godmother that is.
By the second week I was feeling the pull and tension of, “I’m so close to finishing this task, I just need a little longer past 5PM” and “I’m just going to quick check my work email and make sure everything is okay; I’m just waiting for breakfast to cook anyways” (like I needed to be checking my work email at 6AM).
By the third week, there was no more tension. I was full fledged back into the habits and doing rhythms I had vowed to fight against in 2021.
So answering February’s end-of-month reflection question “As you’ve slowed down this month, what have you noticed about yourself? Are you tempted to do more? Are you needing more rest?” felt a bit of a gut punch.
Even as I write this, there’s a small whisper of failure singing in my head. As a rhythms-”be-still”-toting person, why can’t I get this right?
While you may not have had the same rhythms and work/life habit goals as I did, I bet there are one or two of us also feeling like we’ve already failed at some 2022 goal/habit/rhythm/etc.
So what do we do? What do we do when we find ourselves not succeeding at the goals we set out? What do we do when we find ourselves needing rest, and also having a lot of work to do?
Where in our lives did it become if you don’t succeed, then you must have failed? Maybe it stems from our driving tests, where any wrong move means you fail. Which, I will say, is accurate in the real world.
But what about the things in our life that aren’t life or death (i.e. 2022 goals/rhythms). What about my lack of perfectly succeeding at something means I’ve failed? Can’t it just mean I’m not there yet?
I think yes. We, me in particular, have a tendency to be all or nothing. In some circumstances it makes sense, like our driving. But in so many other things that take time to unlearn and learn anew and cultivate, we won’t be either failures or perfects. It’ll instead be a series of working on it, getting there, not yet, almost, and basically got it. So let’s get rid of that success/failure mentality when it comes to our goals/rhythms/habits.
I read in a book recently that asking ourselves (in the context of rejection, which this kinda feels like) what questions are way more helpful than asking ourselves why questions. The what questions increase our ability to become more self-aware while the why questions focus too much on things out of our control.
I can’t control that a habit I’ve cultivated over 20 years will rear its ugly head every so often. I can’t control that sometimes work will get chaotic and feel out of hand. I can’t control that I’ve already returned to my doing rhythms. I definitely can’t control any of those by shaming myself or berating myself with the question “why can’t you just do better at your 2022 goals/rhythms?”
Instead, I can ask myself what about the last few weeks led to this moment? What patterns do I notice? What life circumstances were going on? What might need to shift for next month? What will naturally shift or change because it’ll be a new month?*
Asking myself those questions is a more helpful way to evaluate February in preparation for March. It grows my self-awareness so I know what to look out for in March to better bite in the butt any tendencies I might have towards slipping back into a doing mentality. Which means I’m more likely to build better rhythms towards almost.
*PS: Sometimes our 2022 goals or rhythms will need to shift and change after we’ve evaluated them. Maybe it’s not working not because we haven’t put in the time or effort, but because the goal/rhythm itself is not realistic or appropriate, etc. For help setting goals, see this post and this post.
Hard truth. We are humans with a finite capacity, limited hours in the day/week/year, and by gosh we need sleep and life-giving things in our lives too if we want to more than survive. With all that in mind, there’s just no humanly way to get it all done. Whatever “all” looks like for you.
So, tell yourself now you won’t get it done. Reconcile yourself to that truth. PS: I have to do this daily.
Then, start to prioritize your responsibilities and lists. What of your responsibilities absolutely has to get done? Pick three within each category of life (i.e. home, work, relationships, etc.) and go for those each day/week/month/etc. It’ll leave you with maybe more things you want to get done but didn’t, but it’ll also mean you just left a lot more room for rest. Which as we all know (whether we admit or not), you need in order to have enough energy and capacity to do the other things the next day and so forth.
PS: our planners give you weekly space to help you set your priorities, right next to space that asks you to be still. AKA you can’t avoid addressing how to fight the “doing it all” mentality. 2022 planners are now 20% off in our shop.
Turns out, sometimes our lack of slowing down (like me) is what we need in order to see where we actually are craving rest in our life. My craving of rest tells are: increased agitation, increased anxiety, increased need to control, and increased sense of urgency for everything. And while a definite bummer to have experienced the negative aspects of my lack of slowing down, I’m also grateful it happened. Knowing something, even something negative, means I can pivot and shift towards something better. Not knowing, leads to a greater spiral down.
In it with you.
With joy & gratitude,
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