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It’s 8:15 PM and my day feels like it’s finally just wrapping up.  Now, I can do whatever it is I want to do.  Which, in tonight’s case is to go down the basement and veg out watching an episode of Peaky Blinders.  A want not altogether different from many of my weekday evenings.  Oh wait, my son is crying and my wife is in reading books to my daughter so…wait, he stopped.

But, here’s the thing.  If I go down to veg out watching Netflix, will I have wasted a good evening?  The answer to that question will depend on who you ask and on how much value you place on Netflix and what kind of feeling that decision will leave me with – a feeling of satisfaction?  Or of guilt?  Or something else?

What about all that I’ll have NOT done today if I STOP here and go do THAT?  Well, that list is easy to create:

  • Not working on my resume which needs refinement
  • Not looking for jobs which I’ve committed myself to
  • Not worked on creative and administrative work for the men’s group that I’m co-leading
  • Not cleaned the basement
  • Not exercised
  • So on, and so forth

So, yes…for me, the feeling with probably be a combination of mildly satisfied, guilty, somewhat depressed, disappointed, tired and maybe apathetic.  Not because I’ve cut myself some slack tonight out of all the other nights I don’t but because I do it more often than I’d like to admit.

Yet, what am I comparing my life (really, in this case, my day) to?  What’s my expectation or impression of myself?  Apparently, it’s that I’m not doing enough.  Yeah, that sounds about right.  It fits.

How do I make the distinction between “I’m not DOING enough” to “Am I enough”?

But wait a minute?  Don’t I do an awful lot?  My day started about 5:25a today and aside from 1 1/2 hr total commute back and forth to work (of which I spent 30 minutes of it on a conference call doing work for the men’s group) and 1 hr for lunch, I was working at my job.  Then, when I came home I played with the kids for about 15 minutes, ate dinner that my wife cooked then spent some time with my daughter on expressing feelings, dealing with disappointment, and anger before giving both kids baths and playing with them some more for another 5-10 minutes until well, they went to sleep and my day ended.

My alarm will be set for 5:00 AM tomorrow and if I’m disciplined about a rather important part of my life, I’ll get to bed by 10:-00 PM (in about 1 hr 10 minutes) so I can get a decent 7hrs of sleep.

So, whether I wrote this, watched Peaky Blinders, worked on my resume, cleaned the house or did some exercise…there still will have been a whole lot that I didn’t do or get done today.

What’s the point in all of this?  Am I the busiest person on the planet?  Certainly not.  Not even close.  There are people far busier than me who get a hell of a lot more done than I do.  And yet, I bet if you asked them, most people will have said they wanted to get more done; wished there was more time in the day to do all the things they needed to or wanted to get done.  Am I feeling sorry for myself or wanted to make excuses for not doing more?  I don’t think so.  But, I’m not ruling it out either.

Maybe the lesson for me is to spend some energy giving myself more credit for what I did get done today.  Or, to discover more efficient or effective ways to accomplish more if that’s truly what I need/want to do.  OR, to let go of the idea that there is so much more that I need or want to get done.

I know for me taking a look at these things and asking these questions are a good step in understanding myself better (a life-long, continual process) and helping to frame my expectations of myself and this life.

I know what I absolutely CAN DO is remember that swinging my daughter like a monkey back and forth and back and forth while she begs me to “do it one more time Daddy….just one more time!” and rocking my son to sleep as I cradle him in my arms is more than I can ever ask myself to get done.  In this lifetime and on this day.

Frank Naugo

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One Comment

  • Steve Kovacs says:

    Frank, this was great.

    I feel like the “answer” (for lack of a better term) to this question is one of my favorite parts about getting older.

    I’ve spent way too many hours of my life disappointed. Mad at myself for not having done more that day, week, year. It still happens, but now I’m much quicker to realize I’m doing just fine and it’s okay to go home on time today. It’s okay that i skipped the gym.

    I do wonder if there will come a day when I go the other way. When I question what I was thinking by letting myself off so easy.

    I’d like to think that won’t happen. How often do you find someone on their death bed that says they wish they would have cleaned the garage more often?

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