Have I been distracted by being productive?

Mar 02, 2024
Car drive conversations with a preteen are such a mixed bag. They take on one of a few forms: exchange of necessary information, awkward silence, controversial debate, and inspiring gems. The conversation time commitment is just from point A to point B, so, regardless of which form it takes, it doesn't have lasting impact.
Most of the time.
Ranger gave me a gem last week that will stay with me. With the weather getting warmer, he and his two friends have been spending time in the woods again, engaging in the magic that is childhood adventure. He was telling me about the impact of the winter weather on their fort and their new location and design. They moved the foundation stone, and that was a big deal for them.
Then the gem came.
They all really like to explore the woods. But they also want to progress on the fort. So they agreed that each time they are walking to the fort they will decide on a task that they want to accomplish that day, and then once that task is done they can explore the woods for the rest of their time.
It was that simple. Paradox balanced. Problem solved.
So why have I spent the 48 years of my life struggling with how to find balance between being productive and doing the things in my life I really enjoy and want to be doing?
How many times have I been rotating laundry at 11:00 at night because for some reason I think I can't clock out on my productivity until all the things are done? Somewhere I have chosen to believe that my success is defined by my productivity and my worth is based on that measure of success. When I feel weak and insecure I need to prove my worth to others by being more productive, or I need to curl up in guilt and shame that I'm not doing good enough. (Both of which are wrong, by the way.) My chronic striving has led to some unhealthy outcomes, inside and out.
But last week three fabulous young mentors modeled a different way. Each day I can simply determine how I want to progress toward my outward goals, I can work to accomplish those things, and then I am free to delight in life and explore my other core values and and be surprised by the joy and creativity I find.
Yes, I have joy along the way in the productive parts too. In fact, I may find I want to stay there by choice rather than feeling obligated by the weight of duty. But, when I think that my worth is defined by how much I can accomplish before I collapse in weariness, I'm not going to find much joy. I have a lot of data confirming that one.
In the book The Gap and The Gain, Dan Sullivan, the world's foremost expert on entrepreneurship, teaches a habit he uses to remain productive while staying aligned with his core values and personal measures of success. Each night he identifies three "wins" he had that day and celebrates his success. Then he anticipates what three wins he may accomplish the next day, based on his planned activities. He is quick to point out that this is not an expectation, just a way to positively hold a place for success while still holding a place for flexibility and the unpredictable flow of life. These wins aren't just "productive" things. Having time to pack and feel relaxed to leave for a vacation with his wife is a win just as much as closing a business deal or developing a tool for an upcoming seminar.
Just like the kids and their fort in the woods, all of our core values deserve to be valued with our time, attention, and celebration. True success, growth, and especially worth are not measured by productivity.
So today I'm imagining myself walking into the woods of my day with my Jesus and my angel friend, Emma Pearl. We are going to decide together what we need to accomplish today, and then we are going to leave a lot of time for exploring what else life has to offer that we haven't discovered yet. I can't wait!
Do you struggle with a connection between your worth and your productivity? How might you adjust that balance to invite creativity, joy, and delight into your day?
Join us to discuss how we can move toward greater simplicity and joy in our lives at our March Gathering of Light, Thursday March 21st from 1-2pm Eastern. Click here to sign-up for the link and a reminder.