How I separate self-worth from productivity
I had a bit of creative slump for the past week or so (maybe two weeks, if I am being completely honest). Words weren’t coming to me, I found myself in that lovely spiral between getting lost in the internet, compulsively cleaning the house, and watching reruns of The Office. I can see it coming like a screeching-loud train, ready to put my ideas to a complete halt. Even though I know it’s coming, I can’t help but to feel a slump in self-worth that coincides with the lack of productivity.
I’ve always struggled with productivity, and consequently the guilt that comes with it. Few societies move as quickly as Americans do, a feeling that is engrained in us from an early age. “Productivity” is the benchmark for everything – our progress at work, if we have accomplished enough if our lives, if we have enough social circles. Somewhere along the lines, busyness became equated with importance. It is natural to feel if our productivity slacks, so does our self-worth. This is not to say that I don’t believe in hard work. I do, as long as it is tempered by the knowledge that there will always be more work.
This week I have been thinking of ways to detangle productivity from self-worth, and it is something I wanted to share, for too often we find ourselves being shamed for not doing “enough”.
Ask yourself if what you are doing is getting you closer to any particular goal
It is important to have goals, something that constantly sparks our purpose. Maybe you desire to live in a different country, or want to learn to play the piano, or want to set out on a new career path. These are things that are worthwhile to be working towards. Working to simply keep our hands and our minds occupied can be the greatest distraction from living.
This week I found myself needlessly dusting our bookshelves. It wasn’t work that was getting me closer to any of my goals and it was simply serving as a distraction. (Instead, I am going to donate the books. I think they are meant to be shared, not dusted!)
Determine what really needs to be accomplished ... and what doesn’t
Use your personal goals as a filter for thinking. This will help you decide what truly needs to be given attention on any particular day. You will feel more accomplished in completing the meaningful tasks that are incrementally getting you closer to your goal, instead of the tasks that just keep you busy.
It can be difficult at first but try not to let guilt creep into the back of your mind. Sometimes though, the laundry can actually wait and or maybe you finally admit to yourself that you didn’t want to go to that social obligation after all.
My mantra for this week was be here now. Every time I felt like my self-worth was dipping, I tried to remind myself of this mantra. To not mistake the doing for the being. Allow yourself to reset, to recharge. Believe in rest. Unnecessary busyness can result in coasting through our lives day after day, being absent from ourselves. Pausing long enough to live in the moment is a luxury we can all afford.
Learn that simply being is an incredible thing. That our self-worth shouldn’t solely be tied up in the tangible proofs that we accomplished something productive today. It is incredible that we have lungs that allow us to breathe air and hearts that keep beating without our attention. And sometimes, that is enough for one day.