When I think of all the duties I have to complete today, I start to get anxious. Sometimes my work can seem like an endless list of chores, too long and numerous to complete in a day: Lessons to plan, papers to grade, classes to teach, meetings to attend. At the end of the day, I’ll often be exhausted, and feel even further behind. For every item I cross off my list, it seems like I add two or three more.
If I start to feel like I’m coming unspooled, I know that my head is in the wrong place. I love my work, my vocation, and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. I don’t want to lose sight of that, to lose focus on all the good things I do, and the platform I’m lucky enough to have. It really is a great job, a great career, a great life for me.
This morning, I tackled a small project that had been on my list for quite a while. It was nothing difficult or time-consuming; it just hadn’t risen to the top of the to-do list, and I was tired of carrying it forward. But I was thinking of it as a bothersome little chore to be done, so I asked myself to take a moment to reconsider my attitude. To reframe my thinking. And I realized this:
This small task, which won’t require much effort, is going to benefit my coworkers, my students, and me. I’m compiling information that will be useful to all of us. It’s not a burden, it’s an opportunity to be of service.
I took a moment to get my head into the right space, then slowly, deliberately, worked on this task, reminding myself that it was valuable and important. That its completion would be a gift to myself and people I care about. That I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to affect others in a positive way.
Instead of fighting against the work, I decided to stop resisting, and to step toward it with a willing heart. In the end, it took about ten minutes to gather the information, compose an email, and send it to those who might find it useful. I crossed it off my list (and was happy to do so), and felt a real sense of accomplishment. I hadn’t just “gotten rid of” an item on the list; I had completed it. I had done good work.
The to-do list is still incredibly long. I want to give each task the attention, and especially the positive attitude, that it deserves.
Today, let’s step toward our work with a willing heart.