Aim high. That’s what we’re told, right? Do more. Be more. Be all you can be.
There is nothing wrong with setting #goals. And there’s no harm in sharing inspirational quotes or pinning ‘the top ten traits of super-productive people’ to your Pinterest. I love all that. These things give us a boost, a lift, fresh ideas for living… and help us get through the daily grind.
But when does the drive to ‘be our best selves’ become an issue? When does this holy-grail quest to become a hyper-productive person become a problem? Is it even a problem at all – or am I just clutching at straws to write a blog post??
Yes, I think it can be. Personally, I think it’s a big deal when we’re so preoccupied with ticking off our to-do list that we forget to live in the meantime. It’s an issue when we’re still running around at 11pm trying to complete chores so we “don’t have to do them tomorrow” (yet somehow we’re still busybees come 11pm the next evening).
And it’s troubling when we can’t switch off the niggling inner voice that bollocks us every time we don’t do whatever we set out to do. You know – the one that has a dig because you didn’t mop the floor even though you kicked the backside out of the ironing pile. The one that bangs on about you forgetting to empty the fridge on bin night.
The one that bitches because you haven’t made your first million or at least launched a fledgling start up… (“JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter as a single parent so you’re clearly a lazy, unimaginative ne’er-do-well.”)
We all know perfection is unattainable, so why do we set our standards so high? Why do we, for instance, beat ourselves up because we didn’t get to the gym (again) despite having done a ton of other important, adulty stuff?
If you start to feel restless – worse, guilty – when you chill out for five minutes then it’s probably time to have a word and tell that pesky inner voice to buzz off.
It’s all very well wanting to be more productive, to work smarter, to boss it (yadda, yadda) but last time I checked there wasn’t a trophy for the person who had the least ‘me-time’ today. No, you’d get the wooden spoon instead for not looking after yourself or enjoying more of life’s pleasures.
As a single parent, I have battled with the toxic combination of little time, high standards, and wanting to do the best for my son. But I was sick of feeling frazzled and burnt out.
Consequently, I’ve learned that sometimes it’s OK to lower your standards. Not always, no. You don’t want a crappy boyfriend/husband or anything like that. You don’t want to compromise your parenting or sack off things that are important to you or your sense of self. But some things you can certainly care less about or choose not to do… at least not today.
What we choose to drop off our to-do lists, what corners we cut, what life goals we scratch out, is a personal choice. And it’s not about giving up on hopes and dreams either. It’s just about remembering that one of your dreams was to be happy. Not at some point in the distant future, but now.