Hey everyone, and welcome to Episode 20 of the Darn Good Life Podcast. I am your host, Danielle Roberts, and wow…20 whole episodes in! I had a few of you reach out with your Spotify Wrapped saying that this show is one of your most listened to this year, and I cannot thank you enough for sticking with me and sharing all of your kind thoughts, feelings, and feedback.
Anyway, this will be my last episode of 2020 – and I felt my shoulders relax a little bit knowing that 2020 is coming to an end. To say it was a weird year, is an understatement. But I’m looking forward to bringing you even more episodes in the new year – continuing to explore the things that make us most human as we aspire toward a happier, more fulfilling life.
Today’s episode is dedicated to our worth and our productivity. I’m going to talk about one of the bizarre things my brain tries to tell me during my downtime, why you shouldn’t be hard on yourself if you didn’t accomplish everything you wanted to this year, and, finally, I’m going to leave you with a simple journaling exercise that you can pair with your upcoming New Year’s Resolutions, to look back on just how much you’ve accomplished so you can stop being hard on yourself. You’re gonna want to grab a pen and paper for this one, so go do that and let’s get started…
So the other week, like many other weeks I’ve had since March, I was basically a potato with legs sitting on my couch. I was binge-watching TV, while also staring at my phone scrolling through TikTok, while picking up a book every now and again. There was a me-shaped indent on the couch.
And I couldn’t sit still. I had this nagging in the back of my brain, that I was a complete waste of a human being because I wasn’t using my free time to be productive. Bear in mind, productive and busy are two different things. And I would define productive, not as spending time on what matters to me, but spending time on only the things that produce some type of result.
So, being productive right now to me would look like: Waking up at 6 well-rested, drinking water with lemon, cooking breakfast and making coffee, before I get dressed and put on real clothes and work on my business. Then I would work, with a lunch break where I’d step away from my desk and walk the dogs. After that, I’d log out and go work out, then cook dinner and shower before settling in with a nice book, away from all screens, and completing a skincare routine before I fall asleep early.
This is an example of a results-based life – one where I determine my worth relative to my output and how much I can accomplish on a given day.
I haven’t been trying to hide that my mental health has been down the tubes since COVID started, and pair that with seasonal depression, and you’ve basically got me in survival at this point.
My routine has basically been waking up with maybe a half hour to spare before work starts, drinking coffee before I hydrate if I even have water that day, sitting for 8-9 hours a day, putting my standing desk up for an hour or two, then moving to the couch and looking at some combination of the TV, my phone, my laptop, and my Kindle. I couldn’t tell you the last time I wore a real pair of pants. Some days I barely eat. Some days it’s a struggle to even brush my teeth. I even find myself getting angry at Shea for playing video games, because I’m projecting my guilt over own inaction onto her.
We’ve all had this surplus of free time this year being stuck at home, and I have called myself worthless on more than one occasion because I haven’t quote-unquote “made the most of it.”
If you’re like me, I’m taking it as a win that I simply survived this year and didn’t have a total mental breakdown. That can be enough.
My brain likes to tell me this stupid lie that I only have worth if I’m using up every single second of my time to work toward a better me. That I’m wasting my day if I stay inside while the weather is beautiful. We live in a culture that seems to value our accomplishments above almost everything else
Like I said, that’s a results-based life, usually where motivation is based on the rewards we get and usually comes from an external source. For example, if I told you I would pay you $100 for every day you worked out over the next week, I bet I’d be paying you $700 at the end of the week. Similarly, if I told you I would pay you to STOP working out over the next week, you’d have another $700 in your pocket.
What we should be striving toward, is a values-directed life, one in which we can prioritize self-care and rest. Values-driven goals have a firm foundation because the motivation is lasting. Essentially, by achieving your goal, you will be taking a step towards being the person you want to be. That source of motivation is intrinsic,
In other words: Focus on how you want to feel in your life, not just the results that you want.
According to a Healthline article: Living a multi-faceted life means that some of our time is spent resting, imagining, reflecting, feeling, laughing, and connecting with ourselves and others. And sometimes, we must step out of productivity mode because we’re managing challenging emotions, low energy, grief, illness, and other unplanned parts of life.
So many people are all about New Year’s Resolutions this time of year, so I want you to think about how to make your goals for 2021 intrinsic instead of extrinsic. How do you want to feel? Try to select works that are positive instead of negative – for example, instead of saying “less anxious,” choose the word “calm” or “grounded” instead.
If you’re not sure where to start here, I always find it helpful to look back.
So I’m going to share two exercises that will help ground you in the new year:
One takes less than 30 minutes. The other is a three-part exercise that can take several hours, or days even, if you like to really get into the weeds and dissect your experiences, like I do. I came across both of these on Marie Forleo’s blog when I started to become more focused on pairing my personal and professional growth.
But the only way this works, is if you WRITE THIS DOWN somewhere. Or type it, put it in your phone notes, I don’t care. But have it documented somewhere so you can refer back to it year after year.
Ok, so the first exercise is three basic questions to ask yourself every single year.
- What’s one thing you did that you’re proud of?
- What’s one mistake you made and the lesson you learned?
- What’s one limiting story you’re ready to let go of before the New Year?
These questions are brief, so be thorough in your responses. I challenge you to spend 10 minutes per question, free writing and brain dumping as possible, because there aren’t any right or wrong answers here.
I’ll share some of what I wrote down to help you get started if you get stuck:
- What’s one thing you did that you’re proud of? – I created more solid boundaries around my day job and not working after-hours. I deleted any work-related apps from my phone that would keep me reachable 24/7.
- What’s one mistake you made and the lesson you learned? – I made the mistake of thinking that I only have worth if I am being productive. I learned that I am allowed to sit down, relax, and let my brain turn off.
- What’s one limiting story you’re ready to let go of before the New Year? – That I need to morph into what others need me to be, whenever they need me to be it.
For me, all of these learnings support the fact that I want to feel at peace. That’s one of my words for 2021: Peace.
Ok, so that’s the first exercise.
The second exercise…is a decade in review.
There’s a quote that goes: “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”
This has been one of the single most enlightening journaling exercises I think I’ve ever done because once I wrote everything down, I was like…holy shit! I am pretty fucking amazing! I underestimate myself constantly, yet I have accomplished more than I even thought.
So this exercise is a bit of a beast, and it’s broken down into three parts – and I’m going to drop a link in today’s shownotes for you to go check out and read through at your own leisure.
- Part 1: Celebrate Your Wins
- This section breaks down the things you’re most proud of and why, as well as what you’ve learned
- Part 2: Release Your Past
- This section helps to release the things that continually bring you down – old projects, goals, resentment, anger, limiting relationships – so you can plan the next 10 years with a clear, purposeful mind.
- Part 3: Create Your 10-Year Plan
- This section helps you fire up your imagination and journal out what you want from your life over the next decade – from health and relationships to finances, career, and philanthropy.
- What I love most about this part, is it has you write a letter to yourself 10 years into the future. There’s a website called https://www.futureme.org/, where you can actually write a letter to yourself and have it emailed to you on a specific date.
Then, when you are done, take 15 minutes to sit back and appreciate the fucking badass that you are.
When we sit with the awareness of who we are deep down, our task-completing, striving, and creating comes from a place of intention and enjoyment instead of from a need to prove our worth.
Don’t forget, life is short, so make it a darn good one. I’m going to leave you with one of my favorite quotes by John Steinbeck today: I have always lived violently, drunk hugely, eaten too much or not at all, slept around the clock or missed two nights of sleeping, worked too hard and too long in glory, or slobbed for a time in utter laziness. I’ve lifted, pulled, chopped, climbed, made love with joy and taken my hangovers as a consequence, not as a punishment.
Looking forward to chatting with you in 2021.