Changing a Mindset

If we can change our thoughts, we can change the world. – H.M. Tomlinson

You ever have one of those weeks where you just can’t seem to get anything done?  You start the day full of promise – I am going to run those 5 miles! I am going to get all of that reading done! I am going to plow through that stack of emails that need to be sent! Next thing you know, it’s 8:30pm and you literally have no idea where the day went and why everything that you thought was going to be so easy at 8:00am seemed daunting at 1pm and nearly impossible at 6pm. You spin around in circles, shift around “to do” lists and think, “Tomorrow it will all get done, I know it will.”

Well, I have been having one of those weeks….

I’ve been able to rationalize most of it because most of what I am working on are long term projects – putting the building blocks in place of a project that seemingly gets more complex by the day. I’ve talked to friends who are suffering similar struggles with focus and energy and think to myself, “They are going through this too, so it is totally ok for me to just watch one more hour of (insert whatever) and then I will pop up and get this done.”

5BEC830F-E5F3-4042-969E-47EA76D71A86My mind definitely has its own rhythm for tackling gnarly and long projects, a rhythm I have only begun to understand after years of working primarily from home and has required me to really learn self-kindness. However, this week has been different. Day after day has passed and even the simplest of things have overwhelmed me – and reduced me to tears for absolutely no reason at all. Now, there are certainly a number of personal things that have been going on that have contributed to this, but I realized this morning what was really going on: I’ve had the wrong mindset.

What do I mean by this?

I mean that I have been focusing too much on my struggle and not enough on my purpose – so much so, that almost all I see is struggle these days. So much of my life has been so complex for so long that even the simplest of things – like when to run to the store or do errands – has seemed daunting. While I could blame the current pandemic and two months of lockdown / nationally allocated times of movement / permission slip requirements for this evolution, if I am really being honest with myself (which I obviously am), my approach to life was quickly heading in this direction long before.  Due to the long term horizon of so many things I am navigating, I had already begun to assess success by a series of incredibly small steps – and condemning myself when I was unable to meet them. While this approach can work in the short term for a single to handful of projects, when applied to almost every aspect of a life, it pretty much assures that you (I) will never be happy with anything I do – no matter how large or insignificant.

I realized this morning that I was taking the joy out of my own life. What good is it to have finally found a true passion – almost a life calling – with the work I was doing if I was making myself miserable at the complexity of it all?  My mindset was not only undermining my ability to realize the potential of my future, but draining happiness from my day to day.

Now, it doesn’t look like life is going to get any less complex any time soon.  If anything, it could become more. But if that complexity wasn’t going to control me, become the focus of a never ending spiral, then I need to change how I approach it: to focus less on tomorrow and more on today.

I know that this isn’t going to be easy.  It took me months – years – to hard wire in my current mindset.  And it will likely take me just as long to both undo and wire in a new one. But it is doable. It just requires a commitment to taking on a new habit – a new perspective.


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