I contend that most of the anxiety and unhappiness you experience comes from giving a shit about things that don’t warrant your attention. Every day you agonize over whether I will get that project done on time, or will I accomplish that ever-growing list of to-do items. Let me be clear, I’m not saying you don’t need to accomplish things in your life, but you’re playing this game as if it were life and death and it’s eating you up inside. You give all this shit that you feel must get done a high priority, in effect you care too much. Every project, every endeavor you undertake is not intended to be done as if it were some kind of death march. You not someone else is sucking the fucking joy out of everything by taking it all too seriously.
We perceive what we do as so important when in the grand scheme of things the shit we are doing is just stuff that we feel needs to be done and we are going to bust our ass to make sure it is accomplished regardless of how it affects our well being. I work as a consultant and on a daily basis, issues are being escalated. The end result is that 90% of the work that needs to be done is considered high priority and only 10% can wait. These escalations are not self-imposed but instead, the priority is being dictated by the customer or my leadership. Is it any wonder that we care too much?
Listen whether this sense of urgency is self-imposed or being imposed upon you, really doesn’t matter, either way, you are screwed if you continue to react in the same way you always do. So what can you do about this overwhelming avalanche of high priority shit on your plate? There are several things to consider:
- Choose carefully from the list of things everyone things must be done right now and prioritize 3 to 5 things you can do today and defer the rest. This may not make you more popular, but it will improve the quality of your life by providing some much-needed focus and strangely enough your productivity will actually increase. Not being burdened by a list of 15 things and instead focusing on just a few things allows you to be more present and take back a little bit of control over your life.
- While those around you will think the world will come to an end if this or that is not done you can rest assured that this stuff they deem so important just isn’t and not nearly as time-sensitive as everyone makes it out to be. Sometimes you have to push back and ask for more time to accomplish something or even ask why in the fuck are we doing this in the first place? Stop believing in this insane idea that working more is a badge of honor, or makes you more productive. Don’t buy into all the memes that say you won’t achieve anything unless your working 18 hours a day, it’s is just bullshit and unsustainable.
- Finally and this is maybe the most empowering, which is why I wrote the quote above. You cannot and should not take all this shit so seriously, hell you shouldn’t even take your own life so seriously. You can’t spend your life making everything a high priority, in fact, this thing you call your life is really just a journey, yet we make it into some fucking project. Once our life has become a project it is just a series of milestones and tasks that get checked off, never stopping to enjoy the process. I love this quote by Kurt Vonnegut “We are here on earth to fart around. Don’t let anybody tell you any different”.
This thing you call your life is not a series of goals to achieve or some fucking death march. Start today by taking things less seriously, living in the moment, and stop making all things you are compelled to do of equal priority. Years from now you will thank yourself.
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