I don’t think that I can truly say that I have ever felt bored in my entire life. Whenever I have been presented with any amount of free time, I have always filled it with something else on my to-do list. For as long as I can remember, I have dedicated this free time to working towards goals, staying ahead, or working on improving myself in one way or another. Once a major endeavor is completed, I have always been onto the next.
Although being wired this way has served me well and has brought many accomplishments, growth, and education that I am very proud of… it has also come at a price. The magnitude of this price was recently made very apparent to me. After a long day of hunting that was spent walking for many miles out in the cold, I came inside and felt very wiped out. I found my way into the living room after doing some dishes and sat down on the recliner. Immediately, I felt a stark sense of guilt, for sitting down. Get up, Em. You have so many things that you could be utilizing this time to do. With this thought, I stood up, against what my body was telling me, and continued to work well into the evening without stopping. I find myself doing this often – ignoring what my body is telling me and blindly giving into the compulsions of my mind. My mind has been conditioned for years to keep going, going, going. When I catch myself doing this, I have to remind myself that I need to care not only for my mind, but for my soul as well.
Does this sound like you or someone you know? If so, I’m here to speak to this from experience and offer some insight. This is a bittersweet cycle to find yourself in. I don’t believe that this mentality should be completely combatted, as it comes with stellar characteristics such as perseverance, top-notch work ethic, and colossal growth. However, I do feel that there are ways to find balance within it.
Jordan Peterson, a clinical psychologist, brands this type of person as being industrious. By definition, industrious means diligent and hardworking, which is obviously great. But, the caveat comes in knowing when to take a break and allow other aspects of your life to interject. Diligence and hard work are so very sweet, especially when you reap the fruits of your labor – and you find yourself wanting that feeling over and over again. For this reason, I have established four core rules that I aim to allow as my compass to lead me while living my life as an industrious individual. They are as follows:
1. Slow Down and Be Present
Have you ever felt as though you are working on one thing on your to-do list simply to just to move onto the next? It feels great to be able to check things off as “done”, but were you really there when completing the tasks? So often I find myself mindlessly working through one thing, with the next already on my mind. I want to be mindful and I want to be present. To foster this, I have been slowing down, being truly present in and thinking through the task that I am completing, and then and only then, moving onto the next. Side note: you will be amazed at the small and beautiful details of your work that will become apparent to you when you do this.
2. Retrain your Brain
Disclaimer: this one is easier said than done. Cognition, or thinking, is one of the most difficult things to change. Once we have adopted a way of thinking, it takes a consistent and conscious effort to change. BUT, it can be done. I am working to retrain the pathways in my brain to fight this guilt that comes with slowing down and allowing myself some free time separate from my goals, obligations, and priorities. I have found that self-talk is a crucial constituent to this retraining. Whether it be silently in my mind, or whispering quietly to myself, I remind myself that this guilt is something that only I am placing on myself, and that it is OKAY to take a break. There is no use in beating myself up, and there is no use in you doing it either.
3. Find an Outlet
Just being able to sit down and do nothing while taking a break is not always a viable option for us all, so finding an outlet is a great way to relax and place positive energy into something enjoyable. For me, it’s anything outdoors – hunting, fishing, hiking, gardening, or spending time with my chickens in their coop. It’s incredible what breathing in fresh air and being mindful of the simple things in life can do for mental and physical well-being. Find yourself an outlet and most importantly, prioritize it. You will NOT regret it.
This is an important one. Take a minute to reflect on the amazing things that you have done, the positive changes that you have made, and the things that you have in the works for new and exciting new things ahead. Without reflection, we will find ourselves chasing a very abstract, unclearly defined, maybe even unreachable, happiness or goal without appreciating the accomplishments that we are making along the way. So, take time to reflect, pat yourself on the back, and give yourself credit where the credit is deservingly due.