Thursday, August 30, 2012

No pressure, really

Hey, you. Yes, you. The one with the knitted sweater that has sat 75% finished for the past four months. I give you permission to leave it (maybe for now and maybe for good) and start something new, perhaps something quick and easy and, ahem, fun. You know you want to. Here's your official green card.

Maybe you're like me--a bit compulsive, filled with self-imposed rules that help the world go round. No? Lucky duck. If you are, I get it. How you force yourself to finish projects--especially LEISURE projects--before you start new ones. You punish yourself to finish a boring book because, you know, that's the rule. There Can Be No Half-Finished Books. And we know where this leads us: no knitting, no reading, no fun.

In a conversation with my mom about a particularly stagnant book (The Lost City of Z, if you must know), we laughed when she gave me permission--using that word specifically--to quit the book and start a new, lighter one. It was just what I needed. It's sad that that permission had to come from outside, but I'll take it. How freeing!

Oh, I place pressure on myself in all areas of my life, but I've been noticing eroding pleasure in leisure and hobby time in particular. Knitting, reading, running, cooking, sewing, pilates have a sheen of "should" on them. And I want my fun back.

So this week, I started a new, easier knitting project (shocker: while my unfinished sweater project is still on the needles!). And I've put yet another serious book aside (it was about decluttering--how dreadful is that during downtime?). And I'm considering taking a few weeks off from running, since doing that has crossed over into "have to" instead of "get to" lately. I'm trying to make leisure gentle again.

The new knitting project. Happy sigh.

I'd love to know: Do you have internal rules that dampen your joy? How do you move beyond them?


  1. Love it! Sometimes I feel so exhausted after a weekend or other free time, because I've pushed myself to do what I "have to" get done, and it ends up being more stressful than work. Your new project looks like fun!

  2. I have realized I'm spending about 45" a day making my to-do list (or re-sorting it, or crossing off things I've decided I don't really need to do now that I found something "better" to put on the list). My weekend lists are ridiculous and I feel like a failure -- I never get more than about 10% of it done. Alycia told me to make the list - but just do ONE thing and call it good. Yikes. But those days and weekends when I ignore the list, I am way more relaxed. And those things that are really important? I remember to do anyway.

  3. @Amanda: Laughing with recognition at the idea of being exhausted after a weekend--it's so true.

    @Susan: I can just see you perfectly your lists by resorting them. Love! You get so much done at home that It's hard to imagine that it's only 10% of your list.



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