I have to say that, so far, I'm loving my "year of less." We are only in January and I had a noticeable positive shift as a result of it.
Externally, not much has changed. I engage with similar activities as I have in the past year and my routines have not changed much.
The restlessness I would often feel when I wasn't busy, is no longer present. Specifically, there is no internal pressure to do something "important" or productive with my time. I am not exaggerating when I say that, for the first time after a very long time, I feel at peace doing nothing. Doing nothing was my nemesis and a biggest "waste" of time. But I am learning how to appreciate the joy of wasting time.
In case you too, find yourself struggling to relax, want to be more at ease, and be an expert at wasting time without feeling guilty, here are a few reminders that helped me. As always, take what resonates and make it yours, and disregard the rest.
1. I get to do whatever I feel like with my time. No matter how 'unproductive' it may be considered by societal standards, if I enjoy myself, feel good, rested, or had fun, it is absolutely worth my time.
2. Question the idea of wasted time. There is no inherent value in any specific activity or way of being, there are just different things I get to do in different moments - none of them are "better" than the other. If there is something "better" to do, I would be doing it.
3. Question the pressure for productivity. Will my life really be better if I'm more productive? Is this coming from me or did I buy into this idea? Also, thinking about productivity is not productive. Pressuring myself to be productive, but wanting to relax, is also not productive. Doing something that feels good to my soul is always productive.
4. Address the fears associated with wasting time. Your mind will offer you all sorts of doomsday stories about what will happen if you stopped forcing yourself to be productive. In reality - absolutely nothing will change. Like me, you might notice yourself engaging in the same activities without the unnecessary pressure to do something more important. And less pressure means more available energy for the things you actually enjoy.
5. Throw out the idea of earning rest. If you're a perfectionist, overachiever, or like to punish yourself in similar ways, at first, this might be difficult to embody. Feeling like you need to be productive before resting or having to earn rest might be deeply engrained in you. Even the self-care practices we often hear about are suggested for the sake of being more productive later. No thanks!
6. What you value matters. Think about your current values (how you're actually living and what you prioritize) and desired values (how you want to be living and what you want to prioritize). Notice the discrepancy and think of using your time on priorities you actually desire. This helps you be more congruent with your real self, which leads to spending time on what you really value, which is never a waste of time.
7. Waste of time is full of benefits. When every moment of life is scheduled or filled with things to do, there's no space for the unexpected, spontaneous, and the creative to emerge. If you give yourself enough time to waste, eventually your instincts and preferences will lead you towards something exciting and unexpected.
8. You won't be rewarded for torturing yourself and not enjoying your life.
Really consider: What if nothing is a waste of time?
A big part of life is recognizing when it's time to let go of certain things so we can let in something new, more fulfilling to take its place.
A journaling prompt I love (particularly when I feel weighed down) is "What do I want to let go of?" or "What is weighing me down?"
Think about the things, beliefs, opinions, feelings, memories, regrets, experiences, people, habits, etc. that feel heavy, burdensome, and unnecessary.
Let yourself write until nothing else comes to mind.
Notice how you feel after putting those burdens down.
Let yourself be in this lighter state, and from that place ask yourself, "What do I want to let in?" or "What do I want more of?"
Let all the things, beliefs, opinions, feelings, memories, regrets, experiences, people, habits, you would love to let in come to you. You don't need to force answers, rather let them arise from this unburdened state you're in.
Notice how it feels to let in all that goodness.
It doesn’t matter if what you believe about yourself is true. When you notice a familiar story or belief coming up, ask yourself:
1. Is this story/belief useful?
2. Is it getting me closer or further away from what I truly want for myself?
3. How do I feel when I believe this story?
We are not meant to live in states of overwhelm, anxiety, and lethargy.
We are meant to grow, learn, and evolve through our challenges, not be defeated by them.
We naturally long for playfulness, ease, connection, and meaning. Our desire for these experiences is not to be judged, dismissed, or ignored, but honored and followed.
If you notice that you live daily in states of anxiety, overwhelm, stress, lethargy, depression, etc. consider finding professional help.
Your mind, body, and soul want to free themselves from these energy sucking states and want to soar into a more fun and relaxed way of living.