Wednesday, April 26, 2017

(Un)Filling the Spaces

This week, I put three Post-Its on my computer monitor.

Why? Well, here's the thing y'all - I'm phenomenal at keeping up with my social media feeds. It's my time-filler. It's my, "Wait, how did I even get here?!?" moment more times than I care to count. It's also my safety. In a world full of all the things, it's something I can control. If I can stay up to date with this better than anyone else, then I've got it together. Right? Right?!?! 

How does that even make sense?!?! 

It doesn't.

I've had some hard conversations with myself recently. I've recognized the way I spend my idle time is draining my energy. In trying to fill the in-betweens, I've drained the reserves for my actual passion and purpose. And that's got to stop.

So, I've started making some changes:
  • When I've got a free hour or so, I sit and listen to an episode or two of a podcast I've been wanting to check out for personal (and professional) development. Because it's me, and I'm super nerdy, I even take notes. I read all the time as y'all should know by now, so information is always coming into me. However, doing this for "fun" is such a strangely energizing experience as I do nothing else, but just sit and listen for me.
  • Last Saturday, I spent the morning running my errands solo. When I lived in Texas, this was my jam. Every Saturday morning, I'd get up and spend a couple of hours about time going wherever I felt like going. (Note: When there was a home football game in the fall, I amended my schedule until kickoff. Don't try to contend with Aggie game day traffic.) It wasn't that I had errands to run, it was just getting out and about. I realized this particular Saturday that my Saturday morning game has gotten a little rusty. It felt funny to be in a store and not have a "Why?" for being there. When I went back home empty-handed, I felt defeated. It's taken me a few days to process those emotions, and I've started to realize how I need to get back to these "just because" trips.
  • I've cleaned up my online content. I've unsubscribed. I've unfollowed. I've hid. I've unpinned. I've stopped adding without pause. When the quantity of the content is so high, there's no quality. I can't see what I need to see. I can't read what I need to read to actually fill my cup. I'm allowing emotion to be given into spaces I just don't need it to be. This meant I have to get over my "social media guilt" of what people are going to think. I had to remind myself the real issue is when I can't connect and give to the people I truly care about in my life.
  • I've stopped - just stopped. There are books that will always sink to the bottom of the book queue. There are shows I don't need to start and/or finish. There are things I've said yes to out of obligation and then grow to loathe. So, I've evaluated where I'm at. I've donated the books I won't ever read, so someone else can. I've removed the shows from my lists that I won't ever get to because I just don't need that. Most importantly, I've started saying no and stepping down. A lot of these were a long time coming, but I have put quitting on my to-do list, and then I've ACTUALLY quit that thing.
  • I started creating and completing a to-do list for my life outside of work. Y'all, I accomplish the heck out of a workday. Especially now that I work from home, I get a ridiculous amount of work done. However, while I'm in beast mode when it comes to making sure I have productive work days, I rarely do this for things that are not work. So, I've started making lists for myself related to the rest of life. It's amazing how much I get done when there's the looming possibility of being able to check off something. For once, I'm making outside work like work for good.
  • I've listened to myself. Without all the noise, I've started to ponder what I actually want to do. Who are the friends I miss? How can I reconnect? What are the cards and letters I always mean to send, but never do? What are the projects I want to try (and maybe fail miserably) around the house? What are the opportunities I need to seek out in my community? It's been hard to listen because the voice is soft, but it's slowly coming back.
I won't tell you I'm writing this as a piece where I've magically now got this all figured out. Quite the opposite, y'all. Making this shift is a strange struggle. Old habits die hard, but I'm pushing through. I'm looking forward to having unfilled, purposeful spaces.