Feeling behind

Feeling behind

This post is the second in a 31 day series called “doing less to build more.” To read the introduction, click here.

My productivity has always affected how I feel about myself. Even as a kid I always had an agenda, alphabetizing my books or writing a story or choreographing Beatles songs with my sister.

I can remember feeling cranky and anxious when I didn’t do all the things I planned to, things no one else knew or cared about. The anxiety of feeling elusively behind is one I confront and dismiss often still.

I felt it a little last night, when my husband asked how many of my 31 Days posts I had already written, and I said none.

Have you felt that way before? Maybe it’s internal, when you meant to get three loads of laundry and the grocery shopping done, but didn’t do any of it, and now it’s 8:00 and you’re throwing together a frozen veggie and quesadilla dinner. Okay fine, just quesadillas if I’m honest.

Or maybe it’s external, like when you were in high school and heard about all the extracurriculars your classmates were doing the same month college applications came due.

Or maybe you’re not married or don’t have a baby and every friend you see walk down the aisle or post an ultrasound picture on Facebook causes you to panic a little.

The frantic alarm bells inside my brain are the same regardless of the cause, letting me know that I’m behind and I need to spring into action to catch up. The flurry of activity that follows, at least in my case, isn’t pretty. The adrenaline fueled burst of energy that comes is the fight side of the “flight or fight” coin.

The lies I’m believing in that moment:

  • Getting things done is somehow linked to my identity
  • I’m behind in some elusive but critical way
  • I just need to try a little bit harder

The truth is:

  • My identity is secure, no matter what I do or don’t today.
  • I am not my to do list.
  • My worth is determined by who I am and Whose I am, not what I do.

There’s nothing wrong with accomplishments or being goal oriented; some people are built that way, and it can be an incredible strength. There’s nothing wrong with feeling satisfied with what you’ve done.

But it’s not worth it when it costs me peace. It’s not worth it when my identity is on the line. It’s not worth it when my striving looks like a frantic thrashing, because there’s no fruit in that.

The race against time and myself and the world to do one more thing doesn’t pay off, because it’s a race that’s doomed from the start.

Here’s the question I have for myself, and for you if you ever feel behind: Are you really, or are you just distracted from good work that produces real fruit?

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8 thoughts on “Feeling behind

  1. I’m goal oriented by nature, but I have to watch myself. If I’m pursuing things that bring me joy, the pressure is healthy. But if the goals I’m chasing are externally imposed or contradicting my values, that goal oriented nature turns into frustration and burn out. It’s a constant process of taking stock!

  2. “I am NOT my to do list” – that is such good wisdom! So hard for some of us type A personalities who ENJOY and receive LIFE in doing “all the things”!!!! Ahhh!!! I’m so impressed with all who are doing the 31 days of blogging this month. Power to ya!!! I’m glad we met, sweet lady!!!! Hope you still are glowing with Influence Conference JOY!!! XO

  3. This post so resonates with me. My worth is not determined by what I do . . . this I should remember but often don’t. Thanks for the reminder. Clicking over now to read more of your posts!

  4. Oh this is good. Hit the nail on the head with ‘I am not my to do list.’ Yikes! I have the tendency to focus on the number of things I’m getting done and not really the quality.

  5. Pingback: April goals

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