My New “New Year’s Resolution”

How I Reframed My Definition of Productivity.

Living in New York City, working full time, trying to volunteer, focusing on career objectives, balancing friends and family, taking care of a dog, and finally, finding time for me. Sound familiar? To back up a bit: when 2017 kicked off, I promised myself a host of “New Year’s Resolutions” — going to the gym, reading more, eating healthier — the usual list of suspects. As March has wrapped, I found myself staring at a full list and realizing that I had neglected almost all of them.

Unfortunately, this is the case for so many of us. On top of this, we are constantly inundated with media instructing us to be mindful, let go of stress, relax, etc. Our lives are jam-packed with constantly incoming stimuli. We are in demand. Our attention is in demand. I, like so many of us, suffer from this constantly. I am guilty of after-hours email checking, multi-tasking, and always putting everything and everyone before myself. Realistically speaking, I may not accomplish everything on my list but I have come to see the underlying monster that lies at the heart of every item on it. This monster is the idea that I have surpassed in my relentless search for more time, mindfulness, and inner peace. I need to stop searching and start taking time for myself.

In truth, as my profile says, I love watching television. I find nothing more peaceful or entertaining than getting lost in the worlds of my favorite characters. However, I often feel guilty for almost watching too much of it. I know what’s happening on Game of Thrones, Last Week Tonight, and Silicon Valley. The first week it’s live, I’ve already seen House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and Man in the High Castle. In my mind, my all-star TV watching habits were preventing me from tackling my list.

Originally, I thought that being mindful and purposeful would make me successful in tackling my list. “If I take conscious steps to be productive, I will be successful in my endeavors.” My big realization, in the past few weeks, has been to step away from this frame of thinking. I was forcing myself to do what I thought was right while guilt-tripping myself about activities that I didn’t think were laddering up to my vision of where I should be. I needed to stop! I decided to shift my focus and put myself first whether that means watching TV, cancelling a dinner with friends to relax on my own, or just plain doing what I want to do without guilt.

This is my new resolution. It doesn’t mean that I will ignore my resolutions list completely — it means that I will choose when and how I want to accomplish them. I will choose what I want to do and do it without guilt. If that means going to the gym after sharing some laughs with the cast of Jane the Virgin, then so be it! I want to stop metaphorically running around trying to accomplish everything and feeling guilty. Instead, I want to start metaphorically walking and enjoying every minute of it. Don’t get me wrong, I think mindfulness and meditation is incredibly effective and powerful. However, my feeling of productivity is shifting and I’m very content with where it’s going. It’s coming to me instead of constantly escaping me and that is a pretty peaceful thought.

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