I never realized how hard it would be to walk the line between pursuing my goals and realistically assessing my capacity to accomplish things.
For me (and I’d imagine a lot of people reading this), there’s a mental paralysis that comes when my dreams and ideas and projects don’t align with my stage of life. How many times have we told ourselves that we will do something later when the kids are bigger? Or been told by somebody else that our goals are for a different stage of life?
We’ve been told that we can do literally anything if we work hard enough. That if we fail, it’s because we didn’t do enough. But did you fail? Or are you just a fish trying to climb a tree?
And if you realize you’re a fish trying to climb a tree, how do you get down and find your pond?
I’ve learned over the past couple of years that lack of time isn’t my primary nemesis. It’s how I am spending it. Busy days are beautiful if they are full of things that give me life. I may not love grocery shopping, but I love knowing that I don’t have to think about food for a few days. I love knowing that the fridge is clean and it will be easy to pack lunch. It brings me joy.
Tired is not the same as depleted. If things make you tired, that’s okay. Our bodies get tired. Kids make you tired and work makes you tired and there is an easy fix: Rest.
Depletion, though. This one hurts. This is the one that makes you feel weak or crazy or lazy. The kind of empty/burned out/frustrated mess that stares at blank screens looking for words instead of writing. Depletion leads to short tempers and anxiety and general misery. I’ve referred to this before as the “kind of tired that sleep can’t fix.”
The thing is, we don’t always feel like we have control over the things that deplete us. I hear you. BUT HOW DO I NOT DO THIS THING? There are a lot of things we manage on a day-to-day basis that feel like they bleed us dry.
But. And this is a big but. Restoration and filling your cup doesn’t have to be getting your hair done or working from a coffee shop or a weekend alone in a hotel.
It can certainly be those things if that’s what works for you. What if, though, it’s simply the thing that doesn’t feel like work? The thing that feels easy and makes you happy. That makes you feel accomplished. What if, today, leaving your phone at the house and going on a walk with your kids is what you need? Or what if it’s tackling one project that you have stared at for months that makes you feel angry?
What if you found the thing that was fulfilling enough to replenish you, just a little bit, every day? And what if you kept doing that thing? What if the solution wasn’t a big recharge or a dramatic restructuring, but a shift in how we think about our day-to-day?
I’m saying this as someone who struggles every day. I’m learning, though, that checking boxes isn’t enough. If I check one box that fills me up, I am more energized, fulfilled, and accomplished than I am if I check off 10 things that I don’t care about.
So, that’s where I’m starting. Letting myself be filled a drop at a time. The fatigue and expectations and overwhelm have been fading.
And it is good.
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