Updated: Apr 13, 2021
There are a lot of expectations these days. From what the media tells us (pro tip: stop looking at that stuff), to our families, professions, and selves, expectations are out of control.
In particular, I have noticed a HUGE disconnect between what we think we should be able to get done in a day and what is actually possible to get done in a day.
When we have unreasonable expectations of ourselves that we (surprise!) don’t meet, we generate internal pressure and anxiety, and then disappointment because we didn’t get it all done, when it was way more than we could possibly have gotten done in a single day. Do this every day for a few weeks, months, or years, and guess what? You are burnt out. Couchlock. Snacks and wine and Netflix (or what ever your version of that is) is all that seems possible. Either that or we get sick, our body’s way of telling us to rest already.
Back to this getting stuff done topic. What if we were reasonable?
What if we expected a reasonable amount of work, play, and rest from ourselves?
What if you created your own reasonable utopia?
It is not reasonable for me, at the age of 47, to decide to become a lawyer, an astronaut, or a world-class flamenco dancer. I could probably do it, well, maybe not the astronaut, I think there’s an age limit, but for all of those things there cost/ benefit ratio comes up short.
My reasonable utopia is to work mostly online, and some in person, helping people know themselves better, helping people manage this world in a healthier way, have Shepherd dogs as dependents that I dote on, have a garden, have a wonderful marriage, and close friends. Add some travel to beautiful places and time in nature, and I am so happy. That is my reasonable utopia, and that is what I am working towards, and I even have some of it already.
I am not trying to own a hillside villa with a sea view in Italy that I fly to on my private jet when I am not staying at my western-US forested compound that is fully staffed with housekeepers, gardeners, chefs, tailors, and dog trainers. As fine as that sounds to me, that is an unreasonable utopia.
My reasonable utopia is something I can attain without burning myself out. My reasonable utopia is something that I have the foundation skills and resources to attain.
I can’t get there all at once. Because it’s reasonable, I can make a good plan. I can do it bit by bit one day, one task at a time.
Today my list of tasks included creating some email content, scheduling clients, planning dinner, doing some laundry, looking at some financials, and posting to social media.
I also exercised, took care of the dog, and have yet to water the garden. All of this was reasonable for today, and now it’s evening and I’m driving home talking to my phone, and I don’t feel exhausted. I feel pretty good. I could push myself and do more tasks today, but then I wouldn’t have time for joy and rest. If I want to keep moving forward, I’ve got to enjoy what I’m doing along the way.
I’m looking forward to making a nice dinner that my husband and I will enjoy in our beautiful backyard surrounded by the flowers that I planted a few weeks ago. Then I will read for awhile in my soft bed and have a deep sleep, get up tomorrow, and do it all again.
And you know what? It is reasonable, and it is utopia.