“If you’re not happy, changing your circumstance also means changing your attitude. In “Ruling Your World”, Sakyong Mipham notes, “The most practical way to ensure forward movement on the path of rulership is to train for a short time each day in changing our attitude- just 10 percent.” We have to be open to the possibility of positive change and then actively work toward it. I overcame my fears by taking one small actionable step every day. Eventually, these small steps give us the momentum we need to make the big shifts we want- in our career or our circumstances. If it seems to happen slowly, that’s okay. Living simply has taught me how important it is to let go of rigid expectations and to be open to new opportunities- and how a small shift in attitude can literally change your life.”
For a lot of my life I was a perfectionist. Everything I did had to be done well and completely. Which of course meant nothing ever really got started and very little ever got completed. Because really, nothing will ever be perfect so why bother?
But more importantly the idea that any task had to be finished in some specific period of time gave me enough stress that the entire idea was painful to even think about. Why work on decluttering the basement if I believe it has to be done in one weekend? Is that what I want to do with an entire weekend? NO!
Once I let go of those expectations I could instead work a little at the time. Often that meant that I was more realistic about what I could accomplish in any given time (no, the entire basement won’t take just a weekend). Often it meant that I didn’t burn myself out trying to accomplish the impossible.
But the real benefit is that this new way of dealing with tasks is a lot more enjoyable and motivational.
Just this Monday I wanted to weed my yard but I was exhausted from a busy week and weekend and felt like I needed to just nap. Rather than doing nothing which would have felt a bit ugly (now it’s on tomorrow’s list of things to do) I gave myself an easy target. One bucket of weeds. One bucket and then I’m done no matter what (unless I really wanna do more). That’s easy. And it was easy to motivate myself to do it.
In the end if my expectations of specific results cause me to never have any results isn’t it time to give up the expectations?
Photo from Amayzun on Flickr