Failing to be Purposeful and Productive

Welcome back to Making the Most of My Days series: Thinking, Doing & Living Intentionally. Last week, I shared how I’ve been in somewhat of an auto-pilot state, simply coasting through my days of doing things I think I ought to be doing. However, I’ve been somewhat aimless in my actions, easily lost in my daily shuffle. And I’m left feeling like the things I’ve been doing haven’t really brought me closer to the life I’ve envisioned for myself and my family. I kicked off this series to help reel myself back in and get back on track to making more mindful decisions and taking more intentional actions.

With the news of my pregnancy with our second baby earlier this year, I “allowed myself” to rest as much as I could, whenever I could. While I “allowed myself” to focus on resting up, feelings of guilt would still creep up on me that I’m totally slacking on the changes and plans I’ve been wanting to make.

I’m going to have to find a balance with listening to my body and adjust my plans to have as healthy a pregnancy as I can, while still pushing myself to do what I can and not make my pregnancy a crutch or excuse I just ride on to be a total slacker either.

Now, back to business.

I’m on a mission (or at least trying to get on a mission) to get out and stay out of this aimless automated cycle and doing just the bare minimum. So, before I start mapping out my game plan, I need to figure out the WHY.

  • Why am I in this rut?
  • What factors are prohibiting me from being as productive as I’d like to be and managing myself and my time better?
  • Why can’t I sustain my motivation to get moving and take action on the things I plan to do outside the bare minimum?

As I asked myself these questions, I started scribbling whatever popped into my head. As you’ll see, it’s not one culprit that got me into this mess. But you probably already thought that. It’s an interconnected web of life changes, external factors and personal habits.

Failing To Be Purposeful And Productive

BURN OUT

For as long as I could remember, I’ve always been very goal and action-oriented. I always had a plan in place and had methodically taken steps to attain the goals I’ve set for myself. I think my extended run of go-go-go-ness and years of hyperactivity, constantly trying to do something and get to the next level took its toll and I burned out. I began to run on fumes, I guess, until there were no fumes left.

I started to question whether constantly trying to make it to the next level was the way to go. I underwent a shift in my thinking. I still wanted to do well in whatever I chose to do, but did I always need to be productive and doing something? I decided to take things more slowly and do things that brought me enjoyment rather than stress from meaningless to-dos.

And as you’re already well aware, I’ve been beyond unproductive (outside of my day job) and although I’d have sudden bursts of motivation, I couldn’t sustain it. Gradually, I got complacent, lazy and became less proactive in my personal life. I stopped planning as much and in times that I made plans, I didn’t refer back to them or would forget about them. So nothing got done outside the bare minimum. I just drifted along. I went from one end of the spectrum (Energizer Bunny) to the other (Couch Potato).

A SHIFT IN PRIORITIES

Then, I became a mom. Like many of you mommies, my priorities definitely changed. I began to set my personal goals (the little ones I did have or try to have) aside to meet the needs of our family. And I know you know, there’s only so much we can do in a day and children demand a lot of our time and energy. It’s a need that require our immediate attention, so we put ourselves on the back burner. I know I did.

DECISIONS, DECISIONS

We also moved cross country last year from Madison, WI, to Berkeley, CA. Paul went ahead, then London and I followed. In addition to the already massive list of things to do and pack, it also involved so many decisions. Big ones and little ones. Should we stay? Should we move? Where do we live? What about schools? What about my work? Does it make sense financially? What do we pack? What do we keep? How do we move all our stuff? And when we finally made it, there were even more decisions to make. What internet company should we get? Should the dining table go here? No here’s better… and so on. You get the picture.

Failing To Be Purposeful And Productive

Anyway, you probably know where this is headed … I’m referring to decision fatigue. Our brains kept churning before, during and after the move. For several months, we were constantly having to decide on things, on top of being in this state of transition. While I can say we’re pretty settled now (we are of course shaking things up again with another little one on the way), I think I had somewhat of an extended hangover from all of it. It was hard to decide on simple things, let alone figure out what I even wanted for myself.

TOO MUCH, TOO LITTLE

To build on these, the combination of several external factors and some poor habits I’ve developed along the way, have further fueled my stagnancy of only exerting effort that’s absolutely necessary and drifting aimlessly.

On one hand, there are several factors steering me off-course in my personal life:

  • Too much distractions.
  • Too many commitments.
  • Too much of doing so much all the time.
  • Too much connection.
  • Too many options.

And on the other hand, I’ve got too little in me:

  • Lack of vision and goals.
  • Lack of a plan.
  • Lack of focus.
  • Lack of accountability.
  • Lack of pro-activeness.

Clearly, I’m lacking in a lot of areas right now. No wonder I’m restless and left feeling:

  • Overwhelmed:
    I’m sure you’ve been here at one point or another. For me, it feels like I’ve been in this state consistently for sometime now. There’s so much that needs to get done. And there’s so many great ideas and projects to try. But we’ve only got a finite number of hours in a day and so much energy in our reserves. It all gets so daunting that I don’t know where to start. So of course, I procrastinate! So while my brain is telling me, “Krischelle, you should really …” I find anything else to do, except the things I really need to do. Naturally, I let things pile and go unmanaged for as long as I could, which only makes things worse and more difficult to resolve in the end. I know … such self-destructive habits!
  • Exhausted:
    I feel tired and drained all the time. Especially at the end of the day. I wake up with all the intention of being productive in the evening — plans of doing X, Y, Z after my daughter goes to bed. But even before she gets to bed, I’m already fading. And by the time she’s asleep, I feel I have no more juice left to do anything of substance. I’m more like a big lump of unproductive mush.
  • Unmotivated:
    As I mentioned above, while I keep thinking I “should” be doing something, I lack the motivation to actually take action. This is probably tied to me not holding myself accountable and I used to be super good at this. My parents never had to harangue me to do my homework or apply for college or participate in extracurricular activities. I set my plan and deadlines and met them. While I still do this at work, I am totally failing at home. Nowadays, I set my personal plans and forget about them. Or I procrastinate until I absolutely need to handle them.
  • Scattered:
    Like you, I have a lot of things to do. It feels like I’m constantly doing busy work that gets no real traction or movement. Then top that with the oh so many cool ideas and projects out there that are so tempting to try! So I start projects, only to be left not finishing them because I have a toe here, a finger there and an elbow somewhere else. I’m just all over the place that I end up making very little or no headway on things.
  • Guilty:
    
I feel lousy about all this. Like I should be stronger and be on my A game. Like I am just making up all these excuses for my failures. I feel guilty for choosing to go on a Netflix binge rather than work through something on my list. Then, I feel guilty for thinking I should be doing something else when I’m hanging out with my daughter because I kept procrastinating in the first place. Overall, I just feel guilty for not being more and doing more.

Quite a hole I’ve dug myself into, eh? I think it’s fair to say that this is a deep enough assessment … or excuse list. It’s time to take action. I don’t want to get stuck with analysis paralysis, as my husband always tells me. As you get to know me more, you’ll notice a habit of mine — I like to research and analyze then plan, plan and plan … then I overwhelm myself with all the great advice out there and I become uncertain of what next step to take. So, I’m gonna bite the bullet and take action!

How about you? Are you in a similar predicament? Feeling like you’re stuck in this rut of being unproductive and just drifting along in your days, doing just the bare minimum? Are you ready for a change like I am? If you are, stay tuned for my next post. Maybe some of that tactics I plan to apply will work for you. Or perhaps you have some advice to help kick my butt into action!

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