“beep, beep, Beep, BEEP!” The alarm goes off. Your room is still dark with just a hint of light coming in through the shades. It’s so comfy lying in your bed, all snuggled down under the soft comforter. Your eyes are barely open, yet your mind is already racing with the growing list of tasks on your never-ending to do list.
It’s the damn endless to do list, AGAIN! Always mocking you on how you will never get it done.
But today for the first time, you come to a new awareness. You realize your perception of this list was all wrong.
This irritating, repetitive list will always be there, but in contradiction what you initially thought, it doesn’t exist for the sole purpose of “mocking” you. It was you who allowed yourself to believe this idea. It was always in your control to SEE this “TO DO list”, as a FRIEND or a foe.
This feels like a strange thought to consider. After all, it’s just a “to do” list. How does it have this much command over your feelings first thing in the morning? But even more importantly how do you make this list into something that’s friendly & inviting?
Well, let’s go back to the idea of perception. When you think about your to do list are you focused on the action of starting or ending? I know I’m always dreading the start. The end result is the last thing on my mind – it’s a complete blur. Thinking about the effort and potential exhaustion (mental and/or physical) from doing the task makes me want to rebel. As a result, before I can even do the task I’m already annoyed, have complained enough times to fill a novel, and wondered over and over again, “WHY ME?!!”
Today I wanted to try something different. Instead of focusing on how I felt about starting I decided to focus on the emotions I felt at the completion of the task.
#1 to do task on Monday: Get ready for work (by the way, I hate this one the most!).
My first thought is the long commute, followed by meetings, emails, project issues etc. etc. etc.
I didn’t want to think about. After all, I’m still at home so why should I be feeling aggravated about something that hasn’t happened yet? Instead, I focused on the resolution of an ongoing project issue. How amazing it felt to finally get the problem off my plate. Then I focused on my drive back home. How it good it felt to have a productive day, cruise down the highway (with no traffic) and get home at a decent hour. I kept these images along with the complementary emotions on a repetitive loop in mind. Surprisingly, I slowly started to feel better. Though I wasn’t elated to the level of popping champagne bottles and jumping around with joy, I was content with knowing the day felt more doable and gratifying.
Completing a task (and doing it well) is highly controlled by our emotions.
We can leave it in on autopilot and allow it to go it whatever direction it wants, maybe even crash. Or we can take the driver’s seat and navigate it onto a more cheerful and scenic course.
Next time you think about an item on your to do list: such as making dinner. Don’t focus on all the actions involved in getting the job done: pulling out the ingredients, grabbing the pots & pans, cutting & washing the vegetables/meats, cleaning, etc. Instead, visualize and embrace the feelings you receive from accomplishing and achieving your desired end result: how good the meal tastes as you sit down and enjoy it at the dinner table while savoring it with your favorite glass of wine.
Never thought about looking at my annoying to dos in that way. Will give it a try.