It is always fascinating to me when a topic hits me in multiple ways. Time has been that topic recently. How am I thinking about time? How I am spending the time I have now? Because as we all know, there is not unlimited time ahead of us.
Time – Take 1 – Busyness
I saw the term “toxic productivity” recently. It is the mindset (and strong USA cultural belief) of the importance of productivity. It’s the need to fill up your time, but not necessarily appreciate time. It’s feeling bad about not getting to all the items on your Must-do lists, of not having enough time. It’s a sense of pride in displaying the Badge of Busyness. It’s the belief that hard work is the solution to any problem (ex. an individual’s work ethic can solve societal structural issues). It’s the belief your worth is connected to what you’ve most recently done (your work) and not just being you.
How does one change a deep-seated cultural belief? In realism terms:
- How do I stop feeling bad about not regularly mopping the floor, dusting the window slats, or having a neat & tidy house?
- How do I continue the shift from a must-do guilt-inducing list to a want-to-do set of possibilities?
- How do I stop feeling guilty for letting go of (probably perceived) obligations?
- How do I celebrate moments in the flow state, savor the quiet elements spent in nature, ritualize the things that bring joy and contentment?
- How do I get out of the sand trap of regular scrolling on social media?
I want to read the book, comment on blogs, water the plants, do the crossword, watch the sun glisten on the water, and feel like that’s enough for the day! Not a busy day, but a full day. Not wasting time, just appreciating time. Yes – a shift from a mindset of “toxic productivity” guilt to feeling an exhilaration of time abundance!
Time – Take 2 – What time is it?
As I was crafting my Fall Possibilities list, I had a need to know, “When does Fall really begin?” Yes, this was vitally important to this structure & planning girl!
Sept 1st? Labor day? Re-start of school? When the public pools close? Sept 22nd? When the temperatures cool down or the trees change color? When wearing white is taboo? When pumpkin-spice everything shows up in the stores?
When I was young, Labor Day, pool shut down, and school start coincided. Since moving to Florida, I’ve noticed school starts back up in August, the pools never close, the temps don’t cool down until October (hopefully!), and everyone wears white (and flip flops) most of the year.
For many the fall season is a signal of new beginnings with the start of a new school year. The new beginning was ingrained in our psyche with our own school years and then reiterated with kids, friend’s kids, teachers we know, being a teacher. The concept of new beginnings even came up in my Fall Tarot read! I began to realize that every day, every week, every season is an opportunity for new beginnings and for re-starting habit changes (mind-set shifts) desired. Not resolutions like New Year, but a refresh and re-energize of the path I want to be on.
And for your information, September 1st is technically the meteorological start to Fall, while the astrological start to Fall is September 22nd (this year), which coincides with the Fall Equinox.
So I’m claiming that my summer is over and my Fall Possibilities List has begun. Here’s to new beginnings.
Time – Take 3 – Why do I put things off?
I wondered if an article from Oprah.com on excuses (link here) would help me with the why some things remain on my to-do list forever. I list these items as “Someday I Will” and continue to wonder why I just don’t do them!
The implication in the article was your excuses are “bad beliefs” and you need to get over them (not that there was anything on how to do that!). While the article listed eight basic brands of excuses, a few of them really made me consider my own whys.
- The Don’t-Care Excuse. You convince yourself that you don’t want or need whatever it was anyway (implying you really do want or need it). Is this why travel planning has not happened? Do I want to travel or not?
- The Genetic Excuse. You were born this way and can’t possibly behave any differently. Is my belief that I am not athletic (nature), the reality of living years with a heart condition (nurture), having a bad genetic health profile (nature), and not being raised in family that pushed exercise nor sports engagement (nurture) all just a genetic excuse for not engaging in some more active activities? Or do I really not want to do them?
- The Done-Enough Excuse. No one should ask you for more than you’ve already done. Yeah, this one hit hard! I do feel like I’ve done enough and shouldn’t need to do more in some areas. Do I need to be doing more?
Yes, one should never believe everything one reads, and the “’not enough” one I’ll need to ignore. But the other excuses? I am pushing my thinking on my Someday I Will list – Do I really want to do them or not?
Time – Take 4 – Delayed Gratification
I know I’ve lived with a delayed gratification mindset for years. Now I wonder, is this part of the why I continue to put things off? Is it part of keeping a Someday I Will list, not savoring and fully living in the moment, a barrier to really understanding my own wants?
I do believe a delayed gratification mindset is not the right mindset for living today, but I wonder, do I need to understand the why behind my own in order to change it? Was my delayed gratification mindset a result of my being raised with a strong Puritan work ethic in a middle class family? Although we now have a very solid financial foundation, I still look for the BOGOs when food shopping, go right to the clearance racks when I clothing shop, wait for the on-line sales with free shipping, go for the low-cost hotels, and never buy the expensive items on the menu, even if they sound yummy.
I simply need to change my mindset! Now is the time to Eat the Marshmallow.
This is a reference to the 1970’s classic psychological experiment (and others that followed) about the importance of delayed gratification in childhood development. The brief folk-story element is: children were given the option to eat the marshmallow treat now or wait (not eat it) and get something better in the future. Children who waited (delayed gratification) grew up more resilient and with higher self-esteem. See full summary here of these studies if interested; it also disproves some of the folk-story while supporting other elements.
I’m all grown up. There’s not that much future time for delaying what I want to do! Don’t put things off. Enjoy every single moment in the now. Eat the marshmallow.
So my new self-talk about time is:
Stop worrying about what others think about your “productivity”. Figure out what YOU really WANT to do. Focus on filling your days with things that bring you joy, that fit with your retirement lifestyle vision statement (Active Body, Connected Heart, Creative Spirit, Contemplative Mind), and that align to your Putting Positive Psychology into Practice tenets (link here). And above all else, Eat the Marshmallow!
Picture: A sunrise this week.
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