Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Worthiness Wednesday #44 The gifts and perils of an artificial deadline
Thursday last week was a public holiday here in Australia. I’d made plans to pop over to my bff’s gorgeous flat for some homemade lemonade on the balcony. I was really looking forward to relaxing in her space and having a good old natter, as always. But all week, in the lead-up, something kept nagging at me.
Her blanket. The one that I am crocheting for her housewarming present.
I have completed a third of the granny squares but all last week a little voice nagged me: “Crochet them together! You need to put them together so that she can see how a third of her blanket is finished. Quick! Quick! You don’t have much time! You’re running out of time!”
I started to panic, wondered how I was going to “get everything done” while this urgent task needed attention.
I didn’t manage any crochet last week. I went to my bff’s and we easily filled the time talking about all manner of things, as we usually do. The blanket didn’t even come up in conversation.
On Saturday, I attended a workshop that included the opportunity to make a vision board. One of the things I was really looking forward to was meeting kindred spirits and getting to know a bit about their creative endeavours.
“Artist Trading Cards!” That little voice cried. “You have never made them before, but you really need to have them now! Everyone else will have them and you’ll be the only one out. How else are people going to keep in touch with you, follow your blog? Quick! Get online and learn the protocols. You need to make twenty by Saturday! Quick! Quick! You don’t have much time! You’re running out of time!”
I didn’t manage to make, to even start making, Artist Trading Cards. I attended the workshop and no-one had ATCs. Some of the attendees would not have even described themselves as artists (although that’s a story for another post). I found myself offering to compile a list of everyone’s blogs and email it around.
The tyranny of these artificial deadlines makes me curious. In some ways I love that little voice. She’s so creative! She has great ideas. She encourages me to make the most of every moment. Sometimes I feel driven to attempt what she suggests and, it’s true, I do feel a tremendous sense of achievement. Like, wow! I really can “do it all”. (Then I usually flake out with exhaustion.)
Other times, I feel she is an unreasonable task master. She makes me feel like a failure and a slob for not going that extra mile, not being a goodie-two-shoes, not earning extra credits. Sometimes her voice reminds me of my Mum’s and I find myself comparing my energy (or lack thereof) to my Mum’s. She always manages to do her best and go that extra mile. (Then she usually flakes out with exhaustion.)
And you know what? I had a really lovely week, even though I didn’t manage any crochet or ATCs. I did lots of other things that really made me happy.
This week, I invite you to step back and look at all the To Do lists and deadlines on your agenda. Then listen to the voices that are pushing you to go that extra mile. How many of those deadlines and requirements are ones that you have placed on yourself? Which of these made you feel excited, motivated, courageous? Which make you feel daunted, time-pressured, inadequate?
Get curious: whose voice is it that you hear, when you receive those latter requests?
Get compassionate: how could you gently thank that voice for trying to inspire and motivate you, but explain that it’s not really what you need right now? Then tenderly let it go?
After all, you know deep down what it is you love to do. You’ll know when the time is right to tackle the other things, if you really need to.
Your time is worth honouring with things that you love. And you deserve to let yourself off the hook when it comes it anything that doesn’t fit the bill.