It’s an ambiguous question: What does it take?
What it does it take for you to feel like you’ve accomplished something this day?
A few days ago, I woke up a five in the morning, studied my scriptures and prayed for two hours, got ready and appeared in court, helped move two television sets around, and came home to spend another hour in self-development. I felt like I hadn’t accomplished anything, but I was already too tired and too dazed to think properly, so I went to bed. I slept for five hours, woke up, and spent a few hours working, put my kids to bed, spent a couple hours working, told my eldest son to go to bed, spent another hour working, went grocery shopping, and then put in another hour or so before ending up back in bed. By then, I felt like I’d accomplished quite a bit.
What does it take for you to feel productive? Why!?!
Appearing in court was necessary, but it didn’t feel productive because it didn’t resolve anything. Moving the televisions was an act of service, which is important and had become urgent, but it didn’t feel productive because it wasn’t directly related to any of my personal goals. Scripture study, prayer, and self-development didn’t feel productive, because I consider that the bare minimum of my day. I am in the habit of doing it first thing in the “morning” regardless of the time my “morning” happens to fall in the traditional day/night cycle. It’s important to me, because it helps me to be the person I want to be. I would feel unproductive if I didn’t do it, but it doesn’t feel productive to have done it.
What does it take to get you to re-evaluate your own expectations?
While reflecting on my own issues with productivity, I’ve been reading a book that includes a scenario in which a mother’s ridiculous expectations (“ridiculous” is my word, not the author’s) interferes with her ability to help her son. Somewhere along the way it clicked that my expectations of myself – what I can do, what I should be able to do, and what I want to do and need to do and really should do – are all messed up. I’ve been realizing this in bits and pieces for the last several weeks, but something just hit home.
I think back to the times when my best friend was severely depressed. Her house was trashed. Her child had taken on more self-care than he was ready for and he was acting out. She could barely get out of bed. She wanted the pain to end and, as much as she knew better, any way out seemed like a “good” way out. I remember saying something like, “You got out of bed. That’s an accomplishment. You called me. That’s an accomplishment. Now, pick up something and put it away. Just one little thing. Pick it up and put it away. Okay? Now, you’ve accomplished three things in less than a half an hour. You can do this. You can make it through this. And you will if you take it one accomplishment at a time.”
I’ve been depressed, so I understood what she was feeling. I knew she was being too hard on herself and that it would only make her depression worse. I knew there were other people who were too hard on her and that made it worse. I knew that she needed me to be a positive, encouraging, enabling voice. And I could do that for her.
I can do that for her. I can do that for others. Why can’t I do that for myself?
In the series finale of a high school drama, one of the male leads says to the female lead he has been in love with through much of the series, “You’re off the hook.” She says, “I can’t be let off the hook.” I always identified with that.
Today, I’m letting myself off the hook.