Have you ever postponed some thing you really wanted or needed to do until you had a long Wanna-Do List later that never got fulfilled?
Have you ever wished for extra time to sleep a bit more, read longer, or do something different?
After you’ve finally found the time, have you found yourself doing something else, like flicking through TV channels, spending most of the day in bed or on the couch feeling drained of energy?
How come we have energy when we go to work, cater to our kids’ needs, and run errands? How come when we finally get some free time to do something we had long wanted to do, we feel we lack energy? Answers to these questions may vary, but the main difference between having energy to work, and running after our kids or doing some chores, is that we may be acting under the mighty effect of Adrenalin and other stress hormones.
On The Doctors’ show, the doctors once talked about Leisure Sickness, which is basically falling sick or feeling poorly on your vacation. Seems unfortunate but true. As long as one feels stressed about certain tasks, stress hormones continue to mask one’s feelings of exhaustion and illness on days of work or activity. However, on vacation, stress may fade away, which gives way for other important feelings to surface, like feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, blocked, confused, anger, etc. This usually take the form of fatigue, colon disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, etc.
Therefore, one should always keep checking in with oneself, especially health-wise, in order to discern any health hazards, which may imply taking more free time to rest, relax, and meditate, in order to regain one’s balance.
Now, let’s move to another aspect of non-productivity during one’s free time, weekend or vacation, which is feeling spaced out, not knowing where to start first. You know you always had a Wanna-Do list (as opposed to the familiar To-Do List, which you may normally rush to fulfill), but when you seem to have extra time on your hands, you may find yourself staring in space for a while, watching too much TV, indulging in food, etc.
Why is it when we finally get some time off, instead of doing things we long wanted to do, we end up doing something else or nothing at all that day? Have you noticed how when a goal is relevant to your own awareness of what you really need and want to do, it may take the backseat, and become labelled as “Can Do Later”?
Tim Gallway in his book The Inner Game of Work, says: “Perhaps we all realize that as human beings we have a tendency to get in our own way.” Our brains may get quite overwhelmed by the long lists of “Must-Do”s and “Should-Do”s. To motivate ourselves further (when we know we’re running out of energy), we may start bullying selves in order to do things that help us achieve goals that are socially praiseworthy, like over-delivering at work showing everyone else that we are successful, popular and in demand. Society (family, friends, school, work, etc.) have made us very aware of what should be done, what is accepted and what is not.
Yet, we may be lucky enough to have a second dream; a dream whereby we really aspire to do something we really want to do that truly aligns with who we are. This may include a career change, the choice to quit work and stay home to take of one’s kids, the need to take some time off or travel to a different country seeking a change in perspective, etc.
Obviously, change is not easy and many of us fear it, since we are creatures of habit (security). We may be wanting to do certain things so bad, but we keep placing conditions on them: “When I have the time, I will sit and reflect. Then, I will take some time off, then I wanna quit my job. I want a better job”, etc.
Gallway talks about the pressure we perceive and confine ourselves to whenever we think of the work we need to do: “Each time I take a committed step toward working free, I can feel the chains begin to tighten. The bonds of unconscious habit pull me back as if I’m attached by a rubber band to a post. The first few steps are not so hard, but tension builds as I take each step away from my routines. When stretched to the limit, I have felt the force snap me all the way back in the opposite direction, leaving me no choice but to start the journey again. Perhaps the quest for true freedom must at some point expose that central post to which the band is tied. This freedom I pursue is an innate freedom, not one granted by a person or society. Its pursuit requires a fundamental redefinition of “work.”
Basically, our brains are the Control Units in our entire bodies. So the brain perceives, interprets and then sends out actions to be done by the body. To the brain, that is its truth! Gorgias said: ‘What is right but what we prove to be right? and what is truth but what we believe to be truth?’
Now, you may ask: How come we feel pressured to do things we always wanted to do on our free time?
Because we may be so busy during the week, when we finally get a bit of free time on our hands, we may feel like we want to jam everything we wish to do in this tiny window of opportunity. Just perceiving this lee way as a limitation, we may feel some kind of pressure to start with things we wish to do first (i.e. prioritize).
On the other hand, some of the things we postpone to do in our spare time may be more personal and serious, like looking for a different job, writing a resignation letter, etc, to which we already feel pressure already. Our sense of pressure toward this personal matter may derive from our strong wish to achieve this goal yet fear we may fail to do so. Therefore, this paradox of feelings may pose a greater pressure on the brain, who is telling our body: “I gotta do this right. If I fail, I’ll suffer from the consequences.”
Sometimes, when the topic is very personal and we want it really badly, some of us may feel they have already failed just from the negative way of thinking about it. This may lead the thinker to feel like a failure, a loser, a slacker, etc. Of course, such people may be suffering from a low self-esteem, as they often beat themselves by themselves just through thinking. Therefore, someone who may have postponed doing something until they have got some free time to do so, may end up spending the day on the couch doing nothing at all.
So how can one get out of the rut and actually do what one wants to do?
This article will be continued.
Follow us as we go explore next what a coach may do to help such clients beat their gremlins and actually succeed in whatever they wish to do.