Sometimes I am my own worst enemy. Where other people see great work being done, I only see a few flaws that ruin the whole thing in my eyes. Where my team lead sees solid performance, I only see hours of procrastination. Where my friends and family see steady progress, I only see a haunting todo list that grows every time I tick something off, hydra with a thousand faces that won’t ever leave me alone.
Sometimes I wish I could blame it on my environment. But you know what? There’s honestly nothing in my environment that is not freaking awesome. My life right now is better than in my wildest dreams a few years ago. I get to travel whenever I want to, meet extraordinary people, get overpaid at my fun, challenging and satisfying job, and have all of my basic needs fulfilled. I don’t have kids or elderly family members to take care of. Hey, I don’t even cook my own meals or clean my own bathroom (yeah, you don’t have to tell me I’m spoiled).
If there’s anyone in the world who has the perfect conditions to do the best job possible, this is me. I’m not bound to a certain time or place and can arrange my daily schedule however I fancy. All the best productivity tools, mind-blowing books, and incredible mentors are at the tip of my fingers. I have no responsibilities other than taking care of my work, my fitness and health, and my creative projects.
And yet as spoiled as I am, most of my days are filled with panic, overwhelm, and a feeling that I never have any time for myself – knowing that objectively I do have more time for myself than virtually anyone. If anything, this knowledge makes it even harder to bear. If I fail to do something, it can be no one’s but my own fault.
When I took on the challenge to blog every day, I secretly hoped this would make me feel less overwhelmed. I was at my most productive when I had a lot on my plate, cared about something a lot, and went above and beyond to make that thing happen. But somehow, the daily blog post became just another pesky chore on my long todo list, something I procrastinate over until the very last moment and only hit
Publish minutes before midnight.
If anything, the emotions I hoped to get in check keep intensifying. One day, I’m on the top of the world and feel like I finally know how to take advantage of all my unique strengths. The next day I don’t feel like leaving bed at all, and wish to swap my head with just about anyone.
I know it’s all in my head. This doesn’t make it feel any easier. But at least I know that no one can save me from this but myself.
Looking at what it is actually that makes me feel trapped, all threads boil down to the same fear of rejection. If I don’t do X, or don’t do it perfectly, or make a mistake, or hurt anyone’s feelings, or fail to meet expectations, I am not worthy of love, and no one will love me. I know it’s utter bullshit, but it still sits somewhere in me on a visceral level, and sabotages my efforts to get ahead.
But if it’s all in my head, why not take advantage of it? Why not create a world in my head where everything was easy? I came across this idea in Tim Ferriss’ latest book called Tribe of Mentors, and it came back to me today when I needed it most:
What would this look like if it were easy? “This” could be anything. That morning, it was answering a laundry list of big questions. What would this look like if it were easy? is such a lovely and deceptively leveraged question. It’s easy to convince yourself that things need to be hard, that if you’re not redlining, you’re not trying hard enough. This leads us to look for paths of most resistance, often creating unnecessary hardship in the process.Tim Ferriss, Tribe of Mentors
If my job was easy and fun, how would it look like?
If I could write each new article effortlessly, what would be the space and mindset that I’m in?
If I was excited about the opportunities in front of me, how would I take advantage of them?
If I could get into the state of deep, satisfying flow whenever I wanted to, what would I do and how?
If I understood it deep in my heart that I am loved unconditionally no matter what, how would my life be different?
What would my mornings look like if life was easy?
How would my afternoons and evenings?
I can’t wait to explore these questions, play around with them, and experiment with different answers. Whenever things get tough, I always have an option to change my frame of reference and look for an easy way out. It’s high time to stop living in a world where everything is a burden.