There is no time quite like the holidays to feel over taxed, overwhelmed, and over stressed. But how can you choose how you spend your time, when it feels like you are caught in an endless cycle of what you “have to do”?
I caught myself doing this several times over the last few weeks.
I have to:
- buy gifts;
- do the Christmas baking;
- get to the grocery store;
- finish the playroom renovations.
I have to do this, I have to do that.
Between regular life, renovations, the whole health scare thing, and upcoming changes, lately the “I have to’s” have greatly outnumbered the “I want to”s”.
And that’s not okay.
We worked towards Financial Freedom so that we could shift from a mindset of having to do X, Y and Z, to choosing to do X, Y, Z. Our entire goal of Financial Freedom was about choice.
Yet here I was, rushing around, telling Mike about all the things I had to do.
Time For A Reboot
It’s so easy to get caught up in the non-essentials of life. Even for someone who is retired and financially free.
Actually – it’s especially easy for someone who is retired and financially free.
At work, we often used to remind our harried and overstressed boss that “if everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority”. It was incredibly true. But ironically, in retirement, the opposite is also kind of true.
If nothing is a true priority, then everything feels like a priority.
The reality is – in retirement, there’s nothing I really HAVE to do. I have to feed and care for my children. But realistically, that’s about the end of my “have to” list. If I’m being honest.
Sure – I can make it sound like I have a very long list of things that I simply must get done. But truly, everything else in my life is something I’m choosing to commit time to – whether intentionally or not.
Something I’m choosing to make a priority – even though life would continue right along it’s merry path if I didn’t accomplish said priority.
Examples That I’m Choosing How I Spend My Time:
- For starters, I could never finish my boys playroom. The world would continue spinning, and they would never be the wiser. They don’t need a playroom. I just want them to have one (as much for my mental well being, as for their enjoyment).
- Or I could skip making sugar cookies and gingerbread men, and my children might notice for a moment, but probably not. None of us need cookies, but I get a lot of satisfaction out of making them. And seeing how excited my boys (all 3 of them) get when I set out a plate of their favourites.
- I could also forget to send gifts to a bunch of people who’s services we utilize during the year, and they probably wouldn’t notice. But I would. I like letting them know that we are thinking of them and appreciate everything they do for us.
- I don’t even have to write this blog post, I could skip a week, or two, or three, or forever, if I really wanted to. There’s no doubt, I would miss it though. I enjoy the writing process, and I love interacting with my readers.
When I’m prioritizing my to do list, I’m doing it based on what I feel is most important. For me, my aspirations, or for my family. And in truth, sometimes it’s because of how I think other’s will perceive or judge me.
I’m working on that one.
Sure, there are always going to be some legit things we have to do. But if I really boil things down to why exactly I’m doing them, almost everything in life is a choice. My choice.
Sometimes it just doesn’t feel like it.
Maintaining A Healthy Perspective
Ironically – I don’t think it matters what exactly we have on our plates at any given moment, “have to” is a mindset. One that we can slip into very easily, and goes hand in hand with the “busy” mindset.
If you don’t believe me – just take a trip to your local rec centre and ask one of the seniors who is doing the aquafit class about their day. Most will readily tell you just how much they “have to do”.
In fact – since Mike and I retired, I have told him on a number of occasions to never let me forget just how hectic our career’s were. Lest I lose perspective and take our current life for granted. Or complain about being overwhelmed with what’s currently on my plate.
When the “have to’s” start rolling, it’s a pretty good sign that I’m in need of a reminder. That it’s time for me to take a step back and recognize that these are my life choices in play. My decisions, my priorities, leading to my current “workload”.
My plate is full of what I choose to put on it. If I’m unhappy with it’s contents, it’s a sure sign that I need to start choosing more intentionally.
And sometimes – the simple act of reclaiming ownership of our choices can reframe everything. A reminder that we’re doing what we’re doing, because we feel it’s important.
For whatever reason.
Choose How You Spend Your Time…….Mindfully
So if you are feeling overwhelmed, overburdened, or over stressed this holiday season, take a moment to reflect on the commitments you’ve made and why you’ve made them.
No one’s holding a gun to your head. So choose to spend your time on the things that matter to you, and intentionally create a holiday season you can actually enjoy.