If you’re anything like me, you often daydream about sitting on a beach drinking some refreshing beverage with a little umbrella in it, and not a care in the world or anything that must be done. Sounds like heaven, right? And yet I’ve found that as appealing as it is to think about doing nothing, at the end of most days, nothing isn’t that fulfilling. It serves its place in providing restoration when we’re tired and burnt out, but day in and day out it lacks something.
My favorite days, what I call my “ROCKSTAR” days, are those when I have been productive. And not productive in the sense of doing a lot or crossing a lot off of my to-do list, although there’s very little that feels better to me than crossing something off my to-do list… no, these are the days when I’ve accomplished something significant when I’ve completed a project that has made a difference, when I’ve done something I can be proud of.
In an ideal world, this awesome sense of fulfillment that comes from being productive is directly tied to your profession, what you do day in and day out and can be paid for. But after spending years in an unfulfilling job where I felt like a hamster on a wheel, I know for so many of us that productive fulfillment may not come from our job. And it doesn’t have to.
What makes me most fulfilled is that sense of having done something meaningful, of my time having value and making a difference. Sometimes it is a project for work where I’ve accomplished a lot, or had some awesome win for a client, but often it’s the little day to day things. Right now, it’s writing a blog post. It feels like such a personal win to sit down and write for 30 minutes, and at the end of it, have 750 words to show for my time. Some days (like Saturdays) it’s the sense of accomplishment that comes from taking an hour to organize a portion of the house, and the gratification that comes from a sense of organization and efficiency. At times, it’s having read a book in its entirety that’s been sitting on my “to be read” shelf for years.
I’ve recently fallen into losing time on the internet. Between the black hole of Facebook, Pinterest, Etsy – and the list goes on and on – hours can go by before I realize that I’ve been mindlessly meandering through websites and have done absolutely nothing. This happens far too often, and not only does it lead to a lot of wasted time, but it interrupts my focus to actually accomplish the things that are on my must-do list, let alone my want-to list. These are the days where, as I crawl into bed, I have the equivalent of a mental stomach ache from binge consuming all day, and I’m left with an emptiness that comes from not only having accomplished very little, but putting myself behind going into the next day. As much fun as it is in the moment, these non-intentional and non-productive times spent scrolling through status updates have become the exact opposite of what makes me fulfilled at the end of the day.
TO BE PRODUCTIVE can look like a lot of different things, but ultimately it’s about how I want to feel at the end of the day. I want to feel accomplished. I want to feel like my time was invested wisely, that I have something to show for it and that I contributed something significant to the world.