As we are going through this time of social distancing, quarantine, or whatever you want to call it, I have seen a lot of posts about whether we should be productive or not. Some say we shouldn't feel the pressure of being productive during this time, and some say that if we don't improve ourselves, we will really kick ourselves when it's all over.
What does productive mean though? Does it mean you clean your whole house? Does it mean you feel your feelings and have a day where you don't maintain your house? Does it mean I shouldn't practice because I don't have to be productive? Does this mean I should start to enjoy other things more than I already do? Should I watch more TV?
For me personally, I thrive when I am productive. Being bored and taking a break can sometimes seem overwhelming, because I'm not moving myself forward. We can chalk that up to being in school for 10 years I guess... But I think productivity is what keeps us going in some ways. Feeling accomplished even in just a little way is something that you can build on and feel good about!
I question the posts that say we don't have to be productive right now. I think we should ask ourselves some questions:
1. How do I want to feel right now?
How do you want to feel during the day? Do you want to feel accomplished, happy, and productive? Do you want to feel relaxed, chill, and rested? Actually write it down and make a list. If it's all just in your head, that's just likely where it will stay.
Do you want to feel fulfilled? Excited?
There is one thing that will get you there: your thoughts. Because, your thoughts create your feelings.
2. What thoughts will get me there?
Spoiler alert: your thoughts are just sentences in your mind. Observe them, are they working for you?
Chances are we've all thought something like: the economy is totally shot and there's going to be such a long recovery period. Nothing I do now is going to matter anyway, I can't even apply for other jobs. I totally hear you, but let's take this circumstance for what it is. Just a circumstance. Your thoughts are optional always, your thoughts are a choice.
What could you think to make you feel motivated? Maybe something like: I want to be surrounded by quality things that I enjoy. That would make me feel excited about cleaning. How could you frame cleaning out that guest room closet in a way that would motivate you? What if you cleaned it for 10 minutes every day? What if you went through one box a day? Got 20 boxes? That'll take 20 days, but we have the time now.
3. How can I make this fun?
Okay, stick with me. You may have lost employment or know someone who is sick or at risk. These are circumstances once again that aren't ideal. However, how will you handle them? Maybe Zoom call with your family more? What will make this time fun and enjoyable for you? How can you add value to your life and the lives of others? There are so many people making this time enjoyable through funny content on the internet, putting on recitals in their kitchen, and just posting cute dog photos (always appreciated).
I think taking responsibility for our own happiness and well-being during this time (or any other time) is truly going to serve us the most. What we have time for now is to figure out how to do that. We have the gift of time and reflection. USE IT!
4. What do I want?
I'm talking about the future. Not right now, right now even I want to eat all the cookies and avoid all the things... but what do you want in the future? I'm not talking about an external thing like a job or a specific circumstance. I'm talking about how do you want to show up in your community, in your life, and for yourself.
Now, I know what you're thinking, "the future is so uncertain, I can't even imagine what it will be like, nobody knows!" I hear you, I think that too. But, let's look internally shall we? What are the things that you want from yourself? Personal goals? Fitness goals? Who do you want to be?
5. How can I support you?
No, not me. I want to ask yourself this. And I want you to write it down. This is powerful stuff. How can you emotionally support yourself right now? Do you need encouragement in one aspect of your life? Leave a post-it on your computer monitor or your bedroom mirror with compelling words about how capable you are, something you believe.
Is your long term goal to play a specific piece or to be able to run a marathon? Come up with things that will help you in those decisive moments. When you have to decide every morning to get up and warm up or go for that run? What will support you in that moment? Then: give it to yourself. This may take some trial and error, but it truly does help to motivate and inspire. Taking responsibility for your own motivation and inspiration is something that will serve you FOREVER, not just right now.
I wish you all the absolute best right now, wherever you are, and whatever you're doing.