I hate to-do lists. There’s something about them that always gives me anxiety. There’s nothing more overwhelming than staring at a laundry list of things to get done, and feeling like you don’t have the time or energy to do them.
The problem is I usually think of my to-do lists as things I HAVE to do, not necessarily the things I want to be doing. Whether that’s running errands, cleaning or doing laundry, there are endless other things I’d rather be doing.
Sometimes its not even a “chore.” Yesterday I woke up and thought to myself, “Ugh, I have to go swim.” Unfortunately, I’ve been dealing with another slight setback in my comeback from surgery and had to return to the pool for a few days. I’m not going to lie, I procrastinated to the max, and by the time I arrived at the gym for what was supposed to be my *morning* pool workout I was already hungry for lunch. Despite the fact that I wasn’t thrilled to be there, I followed my usual routine, tied my thick, curly hair into a big ol’ bun, and stuffed it into a swim cap along with my waterproof MP3 player. I headed out onto the pool deck and suddenly realized I had forgotten my Garmin VivoActive HR watch at home. I love that watch because it keeps track of your pace, laps and distance. “Darn it,” I thought, “Now I have to keep track of my laps.”
As I dipped my toes into the water, I swore the pool heater must have been broken. Time felt frozen as I stared at the water for a what felt like forever. Finally I forced myself to dive in, reminding myself that the sooner I started the quicker I’d warm up.
Fast forward 20 minutes and ‘Oh how my mood had changed! I was racing along doing 100y repeats, listening to my music on my MP3 Player (which drastically needs an updated playlist, open to suggestions!) My heart rate was racing, my stiff limbs were now feeling fluid and strong, and to my surprise I was actually enjoying myself. The funny thing is, I go through this same cycle every time I have to swim: dread, followed by me telling myself “just do it,” and eventually enjoyment.
As I was in the middle of my swim yesterday, I was trying to figure out how I could break free of this cycle and learn to look forward to going to the pool. After a bit of thought, I realized it’s all because of the way I frame it in my mind. Just like my to-do lists, I’ve always thought of swimming as something I HAVE to do, not like running that I do because I truly love it. This got me thinking, maybe instead of saying I HAVE to swim, I should be reminding myself that I’m lucky I GET to swim. This time last year, after all, I was sidelined from running, ElliptiGo and swimming when both my foot and hamstring were severely injured. When I think back to those depressing days, it makes me realize I should be grateful I can work out at all since some people can’t.
While its always easier said than done, we all have the ability to re-frame the way we view our “have-to-do” lists. I’m a big fan of journaling, and the simplest way to do this is make a “Have vs Get To Do list.” Draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper. One one half write down a list of things you need to do that you are dreading, and on the opposite side write a list of phrases that remind you why each task is worth it, or why you should be grateful you GET to do this. As cheesy as it may seem, I challenge you to try it. Here are my examples:
In the spirit of Thanksgiving this month, my goal is to try to be more grateful for all of the opportunities I have. Even if its not the path I want to be on, in the words of Pitbull “Every day above ground is a great day, remember that.” *
*Yes, that song just goes to show how outdated my playlist is!