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?
Sometimes it’s difficult to stop entertaining past possibilities and roads we didn’t take.
It can lead us to so many “what ifs” and “could haves.”
Trust that you made decisions that felt right at the time.
Trust that everything is unfolding as it needs to and at the time it needs to.
Own the choices you made.
Put your energy towards making the best of them.
When we approach personal growth from a place of shame and self-judgment, we move further away from its intention and the whole process may start feeling like a self-punishment and a never-ending quest for “improvement.”
Here are a few things to remember:
1. Be patient - there is no place of arrival
2. Find a way to truly enjoy the process
3. Don’t measure your progress by where someone else is
4. A part of you may not want to change - try to understand why
5. You can get to the same place by motivating or criticizing yourself
Let's talk about the incredible benefits of journaling and how it can transform your life.
So, grab a pen and a beautiful journal, and embark on this enriching journey of self-reflection and personal growth.
Your future self will thank you!