Last week I had to remind myself to take my own advice
Up until two weeks ago every Monday -Friday of the last five years has been directed by my work Google Calendar. I’m a self-proclaimed hater of being told what to do but I have to admit that the whiplash from going from having every moment planned to a completely empty slate was a lot to take.
To help ease the discomfort of having no structure for the foreseeable future I took control. During the first week I set myself a type A personality worthy schedule. I gave myself a plan for each day, a timeline for working on personal projects, physical goals and creative play.
Where Things Went Wrong
While the plan itself was well intentioned I made a major mistake. I ignored my body’s personal cues and didn’t ask myself if the schedule felt authentic. I followed the advice of mental health experts and online articles and attempted to maintain my weekday 6:30 am morning routine. I remained mentally rigid about when I woke up, worked out and worked on personal projects – treating my creative babies like work instead of play. In an attempt to maintain normalcy I sacrificed flexibility – and I failed miserably.
Unfortunately for my beautiful, color coded schedule – I’m a night owl by nature and I SUCK at mornings. My natural sleep cycle sits somewhere from 11pm-8am. Due to the pressures from society to “fit it all in” with work, fitness, creative fulfillment and socializing I’ve spent YEARS trying to convince myself to be a morning person. Sometimes I almost believe it. But, naturally I’m not good at mornings so by day 3 of my furlough I was staying up too late, sleeping in and “throwing off” my perfect plan for the day. It made me feel like a failure. I could feel the perfectionist thoughts sneaking back in so I pumped the brakes and threw away my schedule.
Thinking back on my schedule I tried to identify why I was so rigid about it. Practicing some of my tools from my authenticity video, I re-evaluated why this wasn’t working. I was worried that without every moment dictated to me, the project planned out, every goal outlined in the tiniest tangible steps, that somehow I was going to miss a step or misuse my time. I dug deeper and realized that I was judging myself for not having what I’ve always been told was a successful person’s schedule. We’ve all seen those articles on LinkedIn about how Joe CEO wakes up at 4:45am everyday and that’s why he’s successful. Those articles are full of shit. And the worst part was that I was comparing myself to people that I didn’t even want to be like. I realized I was being hypercritical of myself – I didn’t trust myself with free time.
So I had to treat myself like I would a friend. I would NEVER hold anyone else to a daily schedule at this time or try to convince them that if they didn’t plan out every moment they would fail – so I had to stop doing it to myself. We are all our own worst critics and I am no exception.
Building Trust with Myself
With my newfound freedom from structure I looked at all the things I wanted to do and made a plan – not a schedule. I now have a daily to do list with chunky timeframes to do it in and a lot of extra room for exploration. I still have big plans and I want to stay on top of things but right now there is no reason to live life according to anyone else’s agenda – I’ve literally got nowhere else to be. An unprecedented time calls for an unprecedented schedule. I’m much happier with my glorified daily to-do list than I was with my color coded calendar.
I hope this inspires you to take stock of your day to day and look at what’s serving you. Ask yourself what you really want, what feels authentic to you and if you are doing things that align with what makes you feel good about yourself. If you can, try letting go of what’s not serving you right now – odds are you don’t need it.