Good Morning, Everyone! Hope you are all happy and WELL! Today begins a new, probably sporadic, series of posts on how I plan to take back my life and survive this stinkin’ pandemic! Hope you’ll enjoy following along as I document the things I’m doing to get over the isolation, depression, and frustration many of us have been suffering through for well over a year now.
To begin, I want to share with you the (presumably) simple thought that jump-started me on the journey to taking back my life. It was as easy as recognizing, and accepting, the difference between these two phrases: “Have To” and “Want To.” They are not interchangeable, in spite of what we sometimes tell ourselves.
I found I was getting more and more depressed every day as I fell farther and farther behind on writing, blogging, housework, and more. Every morning started with a long “HAVE TO DO TODAY” list, and that in itself often stopped me in my tracks, especially as it continued growing daily. It was overwhelming me.
But guess what? If you haven’t already realized this and have been beating yourself up over similar issues, here’s the truth: HAVE TO and WANT TO are two very distinct things.
Sure there are things you really have to get done if, say, you want to keep your job, or maintain your health. But once you’ve jotted down those things that ignoring could cause dire consequences for you or someone you care about, almost everything else can be listed on the WANT TO page. (And some of them can even go way down at the bottom, too, as you learn how to prioritize them according to your preferences.)
So, when I finally woke up and realized I was putting an unnecessary burden on myself (and my health) by treating everything in my life as being a HAVE TO DO item, when most of them weren’t, I began taking stock. Turns out, my Have To Do list is much, much shorter than I imagined. Probably 95% of the things I was trying to do are now listed on my Want To Do list, instead.
Well, good golly gosh! That was actually quite easy to set up, and I found I’d just simplified my life hugely. I can take care of the Have To items first each day, then move on to the Want To tasks, and work on the ones most important to me at that time. And now I can do that without feeling guilty, which was an amazing burden lifted.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’d be happiest of all if I could clear out both lists quickly and easily, but one thing I’m slowly beginning to accept is that I can’t expect to keep up the same pace today that I’ve kept up for years. Like it or not, time slows us down. But not being able to do it ALL doesn’t mean I can’t do ANY of it, and that’s what I’m focusing on now: clearing off the HAVE TO list each day, and doing whatever I can on the WANT TO one.
Yes, I miss my blogging friends on days when I can’t get to their posts when I’d like. But I try to keep up when I can, even if I’m a bit late, or miss a post now and then. And that’s something I can live with, because I think others understand. And yes, I’m also making slower progress than I’d like on my current WIP, but I AM making progress. I’d thought in my darkest days that I should just give up my writing, but I no longer believe that. I just have to accept that I’m writing at a slower pace and be okay with it. And I am.
With all of the above in mind, I made up a New & Improved Weekly Work Schedule so that I’m not approaching each week in a helter-skelter, slipshod manner. However, the schedule includes two open days where I can either catch up on a project that’s running longer than I expected, or do something totally new and spontaneous, like writing a post on Taking Back My Life. 😀 I have flexibility with the schedule, AND I’m not going to to into a blind panic if things get shuffled around now and then. It’s meant to be a guide, not a grueling punishment, and I’m not going to worry a bit if unexpected interruptions cause me to miss the day’s scheduled tasks.
Between realizing that I don’t have to do it ALL every day, and refusing to continue to feel depressed or angry when I fall a bit short of what I planned, I’m already feeling a lot better. And I hope those of you who’ve been hard on yourself in a similar way will find some ideas here that can help. They’ve made a difference to me, but I’m a simple soul, and not always the smartest about what’s good for me. Still, let me know if you’ve had to do something similar to keep your sanity. (Inquiring minds ALWAYS wanna know.)
Oh, and one last thing. On my HAVE TO list were all my long overdue medical appointments and check ups, and I’ve gotten to all of them as of this past week. Plus, my cardiologist AND my family doctor had only good news for me! I’ve got my diabetes under pretty good control right now, and my cardio guy says I’m going to live to be 100 if I don’t catch you-know-what. So I’m already making my two lists work for me, and hope some of you will find something similar that helps you reorganize so you can go forth with good cheer and good health!