Today is a bit of an off day for me.
I had a few complicated things to do and I’m not feeling particularly well and I just kind of want to climb under a blanket and take a nap.
I had a reasonable amount of things on my to do list today but now it is mid-afternoon and I can take things in two possible directions.
1) I can forge ahead with my to do list as-is and just hope for the best.
2) I can get strategic and decide which tasks to work on and how much time/energy I am going to put into them.
Perhaps you’ve had success with option 1 but almost every time I’ve tried it I have ended up feel frustrated and dissatisfied and VERY conscious of the tasks left undone.
And I have usually had to spend a fair bit of time coaxing myself out of feeling badly about the whole thing.
However, anytime I have paused and made a conscious choice about which tasks to work on and how long to spend on them, I have more peace of mind right from the start.
My tasks feel more accessible, more possible. My efforts make sense to me, they feel more direct. I end up being able to focus on what I *can* do with the resources I have instead of having an constant low-key dread that I won’t get stuff done.
What does this have to do with your habit-building tasks?
Well, I have found that I feel much the same when the tasks ahead of me are related to my habits as when they are related to my work.
If I am holding those tasks in my head on an off-kilter/busy day with the idea that I will get to them ‘as soon as possible’ and that I will do them completely as planned, I end up feeling stressed about them. They take up way more room in my head than they need to and I end up feeling like I am falling short.
If my day is going a bit sideways and I stop to make a choice about what I will or will not do, I feel better about the whole thing.
Instead of going into overdrive, mentally and physically, and wearing myself down, I focus and choose my next steps.
And making those choices gives me peace of mind.
I’m no longer fitting in a 20 minute walk ‘if I can’ – I’m choosing to take a 10 minute walk because I am certain I have time for that.
I’m no longer ‘hoping to meditate before bed’, I’m choosing to stop anything else I’m doing at 10pm so I have time to meditate.
Or, I’m no longer planning to row ‘when I finish everything else’ (a phrase that could extend my day far more than I want to), I’m choosing not to row at all today because I had to shift my priorities or because I don’t feel well.
Alternatively, I may be choosing to row or walk or meditate for a longer period of time or in a more challenging way and choosing *not* to do something else.
So, Team, based on this extended example from how my brain works, how do you feel about choosing the parameters for your habit-building tasks today?
Will making a conscious choice bring you peace of mind?
Or are you just as happy to carry on with your to do list and see what happens?
Please choose whichever feels kindest to you.
And here’s a gold star for your efforts today, no matter how many choices are involved.
*Nothing serious just some minor symptoms related to having a tooth pulled a few days ago.
PS – I know that some of these thought patterns have ADHD-related origins, at least in my brain, but I understand that at least some neurotypical people also think this way sometimes. Either way, I think making conscious choices on a hard day is good for your brain and helps you feel more in charge of things.