Living in "When"
Written by Kate Pierson
People often compliment me on my time-management and productivity, and it’s all because I implement a reward-based system. For example, I take all of the tasks that need to be completed by the end of the week and I estimate how much time each one will take. Then, I schedule out each day, filling all the slots from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a lunch break from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.
I am an avid list-maker.
If I could make lists for a living, I would. Once I complete a project, I get to cross it off my list. If I finish the task earlier than expected, oh man. That is the ultimate reward. My system may be slightly obsessive, but it works. Until it started to bleed into my personal life.
In my work-world, I’m always thinking ahead. We create content a month in advance while simultaneously reporting on the month prior. On a daily basis, I’m never present in the current month or moment I’m in. The effect in my personal life is a life of living in "when."
When … I get that task done, I will feel less stressed.
When … I get a promotion, I will feel better about my finances.
When … I have more dispensable money, I will be better about being social.
When … I finally move to a new city, I will feel like more of an adult.
When … I can afford more expensive clothes, I will feel better about my presence.
When … I gain that skill, I will be more confident in my career.
When … I move out of entry level, I will feel like I am a real professional.
In addition to all of those "whens," I've been plunging myself deeper and deeper into self-help/career books that talk about the "hows" to get to your "whens." The result: I’m too busy making a list of everything I have to do to reach each of these "whens" and pushing myself to stay focused on the ultimate future goal. What suffers is my ability to reflect. I rarely look back to see how far I’ve come, because who cares? I have so many more milestones to go through.
In life (at least for us hustlin’ babes), there is no such thing as 100 percent satisfaction. We are go-getters. Once we get that promotion or job, we'll be looking for the next "when" goal to replace it. Being motivated to get what you want is not at all a bad thing. But, like all things, it's important to take it in moderation.
If you find yourself in the same position, I have a challenge for us: I’ve compiled a list of things that are said to be great ways to get out of the cycle of “when.” Pick one of these items and give it all 110 percent of your energy.
1. Get lost in a novel
A romance, fantasy, sci-fi, or whatever nonfiction genre that you can become absorbed in. This will rest our minds from our “whens” and inspire us to enjoy what we are taking in as we read it.
2. Get outside
Sit outside and listen to the natural sounds of the world. Birds, the wind, cars, kids playing, ocean waves. Every time I do this at the beach in my hometown, I feel so centered.
3. Practice yoga and/or meditation
I have a hard time keeping my mind in the moment during yoga, but my teacher always tells me that returning my focus to my breath helps.
Even if it’s just changing up the usual coffee spot you like to visit in the mornings, traveling to new places naturally makes us more aware of our present surroundings.
5. Set an intention
Take a word or phrase and set it as your intention for the day. Write it out on a post-it note and put it on your computer, planner, cell phone or whatever will make it stand out and be a reminder for the day.
6. Talk it out
The best part about all of this is that you can probably find one or two people who can relate to how you’re feeling.”
7. Most importantly, take moments to celebrate
Got your tax return back? Celebrate! Did you successfully go through the day without making a fool of yourself? Celebrate! Every moment in life is worth celebrating over; you deserve it! But how can we celebrate when we don’t take the time to enjoy the moments currently happening in our lives?
Remove yourself from the “when” and allow yourself to focus for a moment on the “right now”—you deserve that, too.
Kate is a graduate from Florida State University and works as a Digital Strategist at an integrated marketing firm in Tallahassee, FL. Kate specializes in cross-generational communications and is working towards completing her Google Partner certifications. Her life at any given time includes a good book, cold brew coffee, and cuddling up with her dog, Peppermint. Check her out on Instagram.