Do you have a love-hate relationship with your to-do list? I know that I do sometimes.
During my pre-recovery days of perfectionism, I hailed the “To-Do List” as my all-knowing guidance of life. Without it, I felt incomplete, like I would forget some major or minor task and treat both with the same level of importance.
My To-Do List was my external hard drive.
It reminded me of the birthday gifts I needed to buy for kids I didn’t quite know.
It reminded me of meetings I needed to prepare for.
It included long-term business goals intermixed with short-term ab workouts and Target runs.
I always got a zap of satisfaction from crossing off tasks on the list. But the addiction was laser sharp. As soon as I would cross off a few, a few new tasks would pop up in my mind and the list would go on… and on… and on… I was always stressed, rushing, trying to get it all done and with a smile on my face. And I was miserable. But the addiction to “doing” as an emblem of what defined who I “am” was emblazoned by and large in my psyche and I did not know how else I could be, or who I was, if I wasn’t doing something on the list.
Very stressful, yet, unfortunately, so very, very common in today’s world especially for us perfectionists.
When I decided that my life needed a makeover, I decided I was going to ditch the To-Do List forever and live “go with the flow.” Never rushing, always on time, never missing a beat because I had found a new zen and new purpose of living life fully and with flow.
My own psychologist at the time (shout-out to Zen Mind Space) wouldn’t let me off the hook about the idea that “I” was not what I “did” – that I was more than that. It took a few sessions, and then some, for me to truly believe it. I was using my To-Do List to measure my self-worth as a human being. I was reducing the very essence of who I am to what I can accomplish – how quickly and how well. It is a vicious cycle because in filling the void of “who am I?” by doing meaningless/ meaningful tasks, I was never answering the question, just circumventing it with random acts.
I had to look at my list; who are the tasks for? What am I trying to prove by doing these tasks? And, to whom? Did they all need to get done now or could I postpone some of them? Could someone else get some of this done and would I be okay with delegating? Were they even important?
So, the new version of Eva- the airy one- the recovering perfectionist one- was better at time management and loving herself. People asked me who I was dating or what face cream I was using that gave me that glow. It’s called self- love and self-acceptance – beyond anything a man or a skin regimen can give you.
That lasted for some time, but life’s events tend to get in the way of the perfectionist’s mind. I began to rush again, to tackle and tag on more things to my list, ever so swiftly, ever so quickly. In a moment’s notice, I was back again at randomized trials of To-Do List completion and success.
I was again silently beating myself up for not getting everything done or not meeting everyone’s expectations of myself. Where did the self-love go with the flow woman go? I decided to look again at where I was focusing my attention and where I needed to let go and expand.
Now, I realize, no extreme is good. It’s about finding your balance and your balance is relative to you and your life.
There are moments in life that are more To-Do-List-heavy, like when you have a major life event that needs your immediate attention. Be compassionate with yourself and check in with your perfectionist tendencies. Check back with the original questions: what belongs to you? What is immediate? What can you delegate, postpone, or delete?
I love this work; I love helping moms enjoy their life. It’s doable and you don’t need a mom vacation to do it. Redefining your To-Do List is part of redefining self-care. Let’s get this figured out already so you can start living life with that glow of pure love and happiness. Give me a call today: (786) 383-4942.
Dr. Eva Benmeleh
I am a licensed clinical child psychologist in Hallandale Beach. I hope you enjoy the site!
221 West Hallandale Beach Blvd., Suite 202
Hallandale, FL 33009