13- Time to Stop

‘A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.’ ~Lao Tzu

I read this great post by Leo Babauta today, and it sounded just like me. It talks about our over-optimism in planning our daily lives, using his recent vacation as an example. Somehow, we think we have the time for everything, every day.

I used to be able to fit in a 4:30am swim, get my daughter dressed for school and out the door, go to graduate school classes, attend and run multiple committee meetings, go for a midday run or bike, get my daughter from school, cook dinner, study until midnight….all in one day. I also didn’t leave myself any time to feel my emotions. And that was the whole idea.

My sister is in town, and somehow I thought I would have time in my schedule to tend to my daughter, shuttle her back and forth to school, tae kwon do and counseling, plus fit in some yoga or running, my counseling, and still have time for work, plus hang out with my sister. Wow. It’s amazing how we fool ourselves.

I used to schedule my day around my triathlon training, which even took precedence over my graduate school classes at times. My focus was intense, and even in the midst of a divorce, my triathlon training and my grades improved. I focused harder than ever on my goals, intent on not letting my life get in the way of my commitments.

Does anyone see what was happening here?

I have found myself going from a typical Type A personality, driven to exceed even my own expectations, to someone who has hardly worked out this calendar year. It’s not because I am depressed. It’s because I stopped running away from myself.

For the first time in my life, I am actually allowing myself the space and time to feel my emotions. Before, they would build up until I exploded or melted down. Now, I am digging deep and feeling out my reasons for doing things.

It started in 2008, when I was in my best triathlon shape ever, ready to hit the race season hard, and I broke my pelvis while cycling. I couldn’t help but slow down. I could barely get out of a chair. Instead of getting depressed, I decided to embrace the opportunity and literally stop to smell the roses. Amazingly enough, life did not stop when I slowed down! Better yet, my friends still hung out with me even though I wasn’t riding bikes with them.

So, when things get rough and I feel out of control, I find myself setting more goals, which only puts more stress on me. By trying to control the situation through filling up all of our time, we set ourselves up for failure.

When the going gets rough, do you go running? Biking? Drinking? Organizing? Maybe all of the above?

When your life feels out of control, do you hold onto your goals, or do you allow yourself some room to go with the flow?

Do you realize you really don’t have control over your life, but that you do have control over how you react to what happens in your life?

Suggestions on learning to decipher your motivation:

  1. Next time you find yourself over-planning, ask yourself what you are running away from or avoiding. If you don’t think of anything, then you are probably in denial.
  2. Once you have figured out what it is you may be avoiding (for me it was the emotion around pursuing a divorce that meant the break-up of my family), weigh the importance of understanding the situation against the accomplishment of finishing all of those tasks.
  3. Make a conscious decision to follow the path that leads to greater spiritual growth.
  4. Wash, rinse, repeat