What matters most?

When it comes to what is important sometimes we confuse external pressures or expectations with what really matters to us personally.

In doing so we end up focusing on and prioritising the wrong things.

These external things could come from work, family or friends and they overwhelm us because we aren’t clear about what we’re willing to give.

Maybe you end up working late because you have a lot of deadlines in a short period of time and it’s important that it gets done. But, if you take the time to think it turns out that what matters most to you is that you have time to de-stress as being busy has you in a constant state of overwhelm.

It’s important that the work get’s done but our wellbeing is what matters most.

Even if you know what matters most sometimes it still turns out that we’re not able to acknowledge and take action in the moment. It’s only upon reflection that we’re able to identify what we should have done at the time.

Breaks and streaks

Taking breaks will always be necessary. However, when you commit to doing something every single day, suddenly taking a break becomes a little more difficult.

As much as you can try and make up for it the day before or the day after, it’s not quite the same as maintaining consistency.

Once you’ve stuck with something as a daily habit for a couple of months or even a few weeks, the thought of missing a day and losing that streak isn’t particularly tempting.

And so it becomes easier to not take breaks.

But as great as it is to be consistent and build daily habits, you never want to apply so much pressure that you won’t let yourself take a break even when you feel like you need it.

The best thing I’ve ever written

When you’re sharing your words online everyday there is very little pressure for what you post to be the best thing you’ve ever written.

If todays words aren’t particularly good, I know that I can always write something better tomorrow or the day after.

Sometimes what I consider to be my some of my best work doesn’t gain the numbers that I think it will or should. Other times, the stuff I’m pretty indifferent about ends up becoming the most popular.

I’ve written posts that I thought were my best at the time only to look back months later and realise it could have been so much better.

And so the idea of my best work is pretty flexible. If in 20 months of daily blogging, this post was the best thing I’d ever written, I have no doubt that I’d change my mind a few months later.

Reminding myself of all this makes blogging every day so much easier.

Putting pressure on the outcome

In periods of uncertainty we often put an excessive amount of pressure on a particular outcome.

You tell yourself you’ll be be happy if things turn out one way and that the other outcome will be a disaster.

And of course, in life often one option is much better than the other. However, too much attachment to something you have no control over can have unhelpful impacts.

What happens when things don’t turn out the way you wanted?

I’ve learnt that it is much more helpful to focus on yourself and your own well being and not be so dictated by external influences. That way even when things don’t turn out the way you’d have liked, you’ll still be totally fine.

How to know when you’ve made the right decision

It’s all in how it feels.

When you find yourself with a choice to make between A and B, the main challenge will be wanting to make the right decision.

You don’t want to pick an option that you might later regret. But the truth is most of the time, you never really know how you’ll feel a month or a year down the line.

And as much as you can go back and forth, at the end of the day you have to choose.

I find that that it helps to put as little pressure on the decision as possible. Sometimes even make a game of it, put your options into an online hat that will pick for you or pick flower petals.

Whatever you end up choosing if you feel calm and at peace granted part of that will come from no longer having the burden of deciding on your shoulders but the feeling of peace will also be from having made the right choice for you.

Disappointing yourself

When you hold yourself to certain expectations it’s likely you’ll end up disappointed if you can’t meet them.

That tends to happen when you put too much pressure on yourself.

Furthermore, how you feel toward yourself will override how anyone else may feel about you falling short.

You could be told that ‘it’s alright, you did your best’, or even ‘it was good, you have nothing to worry about’. But the thing is when you hold yourself to a standard of ‘nothing less than perfection’ it becomes difficult to be comforted by the reassurance of other.

It’s hard disappointing yourself, feeling let down and having no one else to blame. But it gives you a great opportunity to think about what can do better next time.

Short-term pressure

In the right environment pressure can be a really good thing. For example when you’re focused and working hard a couple days (or hours) before a deadline.

But that feeling isn’t something we should rely on to get things done or have in our life on a daily basis.

Although it can be helpful in the short-term, the long-term effects are best avoided.

Things like low energy, insomnia, chest pain, headaches and tense muscles can all come as a result of pressure.

But a little pressure here and there isn’t so bad if you know how to make use of it.

As soon as possible

In you life you might find that there are people who will create a false sense of urgency. They’ll give you something to do and give you a deadline like ‘as soon as possible’.

So, you put your blinders on because it’s urgent and you don’t want to contribute to something being finished late.

But when you let the other person know you’re done and they appear nonchalant, that’s when you realise the urgency was fake.

Perhaps they couldn’t trust you’d do it within a suitable time without the extra pressure.

Whatever the case it’s important to not allow yourself to get swept up in it all.

As soon as possible might really mean by the end of the day, not right now.

The way that things should be

We often go around with this idea in our heads of the way that things should be, in some ways it’s a good thing. When you know what you want you’re much less likely to let life pass you by.

On the other hand when you’re so fixated on the way that things should be you don’t give room for organic growth and development.

Lets say you applied for what you think will be your dream job but when you get there it’s not quite what you thought it would be. If you’re dead set on your ‘dream job’ you might end up leaving after a few months or staying put but hating it because it’s not what you wanted.

But if you take your foot off the gas and let go of the rigid plan created you might find that in this job you’re able to discover something that you’re actually interested in. It might be be even better than what you thought you wanted.

Letting go of expectations and letting things be isn’t always easy to put into practice. It requires patience and the ability to trust that things will turn out okay.

Procrastination pleasure

There must be some explanation for why we do it.

When you don’t want to do something or you know it won’t be easy, putting it off feels good. There’s pleasure in indulging in the freedom of future deadlines, future work or future responsibilities.

But that doesn’t mean that you can avoid them forever. That pleasurable feeling of freedom and not doing what you “posed to do” can’t last. You see the thing is whether you do it now or later you still have to get it done.

Instead of indulging in procrastination pleasure followed by an intense stressful period, choose to indulge in productivity pleasure and give yourself as much time as you can in order to do things well.

Sure pressure creates diamonds but constantly putting yourself through stress when you don’t need to could result in insomnia, chest pain and diarrhoea.

You might be used to doing things one way but that’s no reason not to try something new.