I’ve shared earlier that my top strength, according to StrengthsFinder, is Consistency. Yet, all that is good and pleasant about this word can be the angst of all that is good around me. Consistency, yes, is a great strength, but when taken to the extreme, I can be quite stubborn and inflexible. Yet, consistency is the core for routines. Take my kids for example. They wake up, wash up, brush their teeth and get ready for school for the day. It’s a consistent routine. It’s not bad, it’s just the way it has to be to get to school on time. But, as life progresses, we progressively build more and more routines into our lives. Maybe you get up early to work out, or meditate. Maybe you arrive home by a specified time to have dinner with your family before the rush of evening activities. Maybe you routinely go to church every Sunday or volunteer at the soup kitchen each Saturday morning. The routine serves as a structure that helps us navigate our lives.
The other day, a water line broke at the kids’ school and they had Remote Learning Day (thanks COVID!…no more canceled school!). Their routine was broken. They slept in, screwed around, annoyed my wife, Keri, and generally navigated the day as renegade misfits doing as little as possible, let alone their school work. Lest I throw them under the bus by themselves… I, too, was the same way when I was a kid and school was canceled. Likely worse.
Then, there’s adulthood. For me, during my workday, I live by a calendar. And that calendar rarely, if ever, has a free space on the grid. I’m a highly scheduled person, and due to my position at my work, my time is a highly sought after commodity. And, I like knowing what is ahead. Yet, I don’t like living in the cage of this, then that, and the next.
In some ways, I desire it. In other ways, I loathe it. In some ways, I love having the day presented all nice and neat as I know my team works hard at coordinating it. In other ways, I hate it.
On one hand, I value the spontaneity of being able to feel like it’s time for a walk or a time to chill, read, innovate, research, or listen to a podcast. But on the other hand, that can feel a bit destabilizing, an aimless wandering of what ‘next’ should look like.
Aimless wandering. Yet, can’t that be ok? Isn’t it permissive to let the mind wander, even wonder? Isn’t it fine to allow the synapses to fire this way or that, which prompts another thought to go this way or that, so that this way or that can be the next good idea, invention, or productive conversation? I think so. Yes, I have some fixed things on the calendar, and that routine is ok with me. Yet, I’m striving, slowly but surely, to be ok with margin. In fact, I’m trying to work it into my workday. Impossible? Perhaps, but worth a shot.
What about you?
How do you deal with calendar fatigue? The endless sea of playing Tetris with appointments for both work and family?
But if there is margin, what do you do with free time? Are you ok with aimless wandering?
If not, perhaps you should be. A free mind creates. A caged mind reacts.
Set your mind and your schedule free today. Go for a walk. Color a picture. Clear your afternoon calendar and head to the museum. Take a pen and paper. Jot down thoughts. The more random the better. Break the routine. Spread your wings.
And live with purpose today…