Anyone else have days where the number of things you want to do is much bigger than the time allotted? Every day ends up having too many tasks, many of which are of little actual importance. This leads to feeling overwhelmed and needing a vacation. I so have these.
Travel is something I think I do quite well and do enjoy, and rarely have these problems. And fear is a common source to problems that I am getting better at dealing with. So I relate this problem to travel and fear in order to sort it out.
For me this extends even beyond the day range. I look ahead and think about all the different things that need to be done before the end of the week or month. Often this list is very long and overwhelming. Laundry, haircut, cleaning, pictures, work, friends, eating, shopping, gym, blog… and that is long before I get to hobbies, which I will often pick to try to relax, yet making the list of undone things no shorter.
The root of my problem is not really that I have a list of things to accomplish that is longer than I am able to do; but that it affects my sleep. In not being able turn off my head, I get no rest and am just more overwhelmed and less productive on the next day. This is a circle that is not much in the way of fun. The root seems to be one of several fears:
- I am afraid of what others will think if I can’t get it all done.
- I am afraid of what I will miss in dropping some activities in favor of others.
- Then each individual task screams that if that task isn’t completed then a whole group of bad things will occur. Each one vying for importance.
These fears are what wonder around in my mind at night keeping me awake. I worry (a result of fear) about what has to be done tomorrow and what wasn’t completed today. These worries mean that I cannot relax and lie awake or wake up several times a night. While a few beers does calm the mind some, that also doesn’t lead to good sleep nor fixes the problem.
Travel – Trying to See it All
Travel is (as evidenced by the site) one of my passions and where I tend to look for examples of how to fix life problems. Um yeah, moved abroad to reboot life. In travel this problem comes up as trying to see it all. To replicate the problem more closely, imagine a city wide-open with a list of must-sees. I’ve planned a full trip of sights and have the list to check each one off. It means though often rushing through sites and struggling in transport long distances to try to get in to museums before they close. It means eating on the go and not stopping at all. Pretty much the same day that I would have with too many things to accomplish at home. Add a transport strike or work crises to either day and you get frustration and worry (and hunger and sleeplessness).
To go more toward a macro level, (and I am well guilty of this) trying to see entire countries in a week. The well-named Whirlwind Tours of Europe are in this class. Seeing each place for a day or two and moving on trying to see everything. Whenever I try to do this I end up feeling dizzy and tired and overwhelmed. I stop enjoying things after a few days and my eyes kind of glaze over. I just can’t enjoy travel at this breakneck speed.
Beating the Fear…
The issues in both the case of my daily life and of trying to see too much in traveling seem to stem from similar fears. (If they don’t, then I picked some poor travel examples, because that is their point.) A limited amount of time mixed with large expectations resulting in a bad feeling if these expectations cannot be met. So the worry stems from not being able to see everything you wanted. Phrases like “What you went to Paris and didn’t even go up the Eiffel Tower?” “You didn’t see the Mermaid when you were in Copenhagen?” come up and fuel the fear. For the record, I was very hungry when the group went to the Tower and picked the waffle stand instead. And I tried for a while and could not find that Mermaid statue.
Fear is by nature a future emotion. Fear is about what could happen or might happen; never what is currently happening. A fear of heights is about falling, something that might happen if you are high up. The frightening experience of a dog barking is the menace that he might bite, not that the barking itself is painful. The fears that force me to worry at night about all that I think I have to accomplish are that in the future not having something on that list done will be detrimental. Not seeing everything in travel seems to be the fear that you will never get to see it.
...with the Travel Examples
Every city is rich and deep in mysteries and things to experience. I will never “see it all” especially if I am only there for a week. Even living in a place for a while can lead to unexpected new things. Give up right now that you will see everything.
- If a place is worth seeing, it is worth coming back to see.
- If a place is not worth coming back to, then why is it so bad to miss seeing it?
- Most importantly, enjoy and revel is what I can do and am seeing (and have seen), not what I am missing out on.
So I am giving up on worrying about the sights that I missed and remembering all of the wonderful places that I have seen. Slow travel is one of my passions. To travel at a pace that allows worry reduced viewing of things and enjoyment of being a traveler. Part of slow travel is about taking time to enjoy places and not worrying about what is being missed.
…in Daily Life
Leading back into my daily life, I am going to try to put into practice these things. Decide what is actually important. (see above with waffles instead of Eiffel Tower) Figure out what is doable and enjoy the results of that. This is actually a common thing in personal development circles, don’t take too much on and don’t worry about doing everything. Especially don’t worry about it. I link to it through the experience of travel and draw it back through my life.
Things will change in importance and priorities get rearranged. Ok, go with it. Just like in travel, if you meet a great group of people headed in a different direction, think about joining them instead of running down your list.