The apprehension to reconfigure your day is often based in a fear of judgement from other people. What will they think of me if I’m not online all day?
At the beginning of 2020, I remember wishing that my morning could unfold more calmly instead of arriving at the gym at 5 am, then dashing home for the school run. Although I had mastered getting ready in 12 minutes, it wasn’t the ideal way to begin the day with such a frenetic pace.
When lockdown happened in March 2020, I replaced the 5 AM gym slot with meditation, yoga and journaling. I moved my exercise out later because it worked for me and was so much more efficient.
It took some time to allow myself this space and enjoy my mornings. I let go of the old way and permitted myself to do things differently.
Of course, you can’t miss your work commitments and suddenly ditch the weekly team meeting. But nothing is stopping you from booking out a 16:30 session on a Wednesday to do your favourite exercise class or paint a painting because that will fuel your soul.
Make the flexibility remote working offers work for you. Let go of how you used to do it. Let go of control addiction!
DROP THE CARROT AND STICK APPROACH.
In his brilliant TED talk, The Puzzle of Motivation, Daniel Pink reveals how science has proved that the carrot and stick approach to motivation does not work. A big reward will not drive greater productivity; it sabotages it.
Why do you use the same approach for yourself?
You do not need to earn your kindness.
The mental chatter becomes “If I work hard in the week, then I will earn time to relax on the weekend”.
What happens if you don’t finish all your work? Not because of lack of effort but most likely unexpected circumstances or you are slave-driving yourself with unrealistic deadlines.
Are you going to deprive yourself of your recovery time?
No wonder you feel you have no control over your world. And trying to control leads to control addiction.
You do not need to earn the right to be friendly and have compassion towards yourself — drop the carrot and stick approach.
All you can do is make progress, acknowledge your wins and remind yourself you are doing the best you can with the resources available to you now.
If you never allow yourself space to recover or partake in activities you love like painting, writing or cycling; you will end up in burnout with your stress levels through the roof.
Schedule yourself into the calendar and honour the slot unconditionally.
This perceived lack of balance in your life is because you do not allow yourself anything to look forward to over the weekend.
Ditch the guilt, take the time for yourself with no conditions, and you will experience gentler days.
MANAGE YOUR STATE TO OVERCOME CONTROL ADDICTION
Authors Preethaji and Krishnaji make a profound statement in the book, ‘The Four Sacred Secrets’:
You can choose to live in a beautiful state or a suffering state.
Suffering refers to stress, overwhelm, anxiety and frustration that comes from need to control everything or control addiction.
They define a beautiful state as “serenity, happiness, gratitude, love or courage. The essence of a beautiful state is the absence of conflicting mental chatter, a greater presence to life, and a richer connection to the people around you.”
It took me six months of daily migraines in 2020 to learn the cause of them was self-inflicted.
I cut out certain foods, started mindful breathing classes, got glasses and ultimately, the headaches were triggered by anxiety about control that I refused to acknowledge.
In ‘The Four Sacred Secrets’ a powerful question is posed:
“Recognize the state in which you have spent most of the past year. If this state were to become your mental and emotional baseline for the rest of your life, would you be a happy person or an unhappy person? Please see the truth.”
If you answered the latter, here is the good news — you are one decision away from creating the life you want. It all begins by owning your headspace about how you approach your day.
For example, be aware of setting yourself false time deadlines; when you are working on a task, is it due tomorrow or are you trying to be a people pleaser?
Do not commit to timelines that put you under significant stress. Do not assume everything is urgent.
Manage people’s expectations with responses like “My schedule is jam-packed until Wednesday, would Friday morning work for you?”. Guess what — they will most likely say yes.
Let the urgent firefighting work be the exceptions and not the default.
You have the choice to enjoy your days. Despite the deadlines, the busyness and new way of being.
You can decide to do every day in happiness. Irrespective of what the external circumstances bring, you can choose your state and stop control addiction.