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Releasing The Pressure To Always Do More

As I was taking a walk one morning, it struck me how quickly time is passing, yet I feel as though I have nothing to show for it.

I found myself thinking I should have accomplished more since half of the year has already passed.

But considering that my almost eight-year relationship ended in January and my entire life has been in a state of flux since then, why am I even worrying about what I have or have not accomplished?

Everything has changed and will continue to change, yet I still feel the pressure to have accomplished something; to have filled the days, weeks, and months with more “meaningful” things.

In reality, there’s been a lot of crying, journaling, watching YouTube videos, reading books, and going for walks.

I’ve started therapy to help process my feelings and, hopefully, eventually, address things I’ve been avoiding my whole life.

I’ve also been identifying small goals and working towards them each day.

All the while, I’ve been preoccupied with thoughts of the past eight years, trying to figure out where everything went wrong.

And yet there’s still the constant pressure from within me that feels like I should be doing more.

The pressure to do more

What do I imagine I should have been doing? Should I be traveling the world? Finding a place to live instead of being with my parents for now? Seeking new friendships? Reinventing myself?

I’ve often written about the importance of letting yourself do nothing, yet I still feel on a daily basis that I’m wasting my precious time or that there’s some better way of life out there for me.

I think to myself, “If only I were more adventurous, ambitious, and confident, maybe I could live a completely different life.”

But why do I feel that way? Is it societal pressure, comparison to others, or simply a part of my personality? Why do I feel like there’s some other version of life I should be living?

The fantasy future

As I’ve been working through these thoughts, I came across this video on the topic of ‘lacking follow-through.’

Heidi shares how many of us feel that we aren’t making progress in life because we’re stuck in fantasy thoughts about the future.

We imagine that the future version of our lives will be so much better than the current version.

The problem is that we use those future fantasies to escape our current reality.

After all, it’s more fun to fantasize about the future than face the discomfort of the present moment. In a fantasy world, there are no problems to deal with and life is devoid of any stress.

But when your future fantasy is so different from your lived reality, it can feel incredibly overwhelming to figure out how you’re going to make it happen…so nothing ever happens.

You stay stuck where you are, even though you really don’t want to be where you are. It’s an endless cycle.

In order to move from current reality to your fantasy future, you first have to accept where you are now.

You have to be willing to show up in the present moment, even when it’s hard, instead of avoiding it.

I realize now that instead of accepting where I am with my situation, I’ve been comparing myself to a future fantasy version of who I could be rather than who I am.

My fear of wasted potential is coming from an unwillingness to approach life from exactly where I am.

Returning to ourselves

When I take a close, hard look at where I am, I recognize that I’ve been working through a lot of difficult emotions.

I’ve been in a season of redirection, and I’m slowly but surely coming back to feeling like myself.

In our results-oriented society, it’s hard to feel accomplished when you don’t have anything tangible to show for the work you’ve been doing on yourself.

You don’t get a certificate for recognizing behavior patterns in your life and working to understand why they show up.

You can’t SMART-goal your way into healing.

But even if you won’t win any prizes for navigating the difficulties of being a human being, that doesn’t mean it’s all for nothing.

The road to acceptance—of ourselves and the current moment—is worth taking.

Start from where you are

When you feel exhausted by the pressure to accomplish more, focus on accepting the current-moment version of your life and go from there.

Work with what you have instead of what you wish you had or what you could have.

Meet yourself where you are, even if it means bringing along some baggage.

At the end of the day, the challenge isn’t to do more, but to fully accept the present moment for what it is.

About the Author
Picture of Catherine Beard
Hi, I'm Catherine! As the creator of The Blissful Mind, I love exploring ways to make life more fulfilling, especially when it comes to our daily routines, habits, and well-being.

24 Responses

  1. as a reference point before i make comments. 78 yrs. old, live on east coast.
    after i read your email and blog i wanted so much to convey some thoughts but my writing couldn’t do it.
    i’ve been in places you described but i’ve never thought about ‘more’. maybe it’s an innate sense or belief that at that moment i can’t do or give more and that is fine. but i also know when i have the capacity for ‘more’ and i act. you know all these things as well.
    and, as hard as it is to do, i accept or agree to let myself accept that something is never going to happen. hard hard hard and sometimes sorry work but it works.

  2. So pleased that you’ve returned to your writing. Time always moves forward and we along with it. It has taken me almost 5 decades to learn to live in the moment and accept myself. It brings peace all around. I do hope that you are finding some peace for yourself!

  3. Hi Catherine,
    I was happy to see your message today and noticed it had been a while. Sorry to hear about all the unexpected, sad and disappointing events that happened in your life this year. Me too!
    My beloved old cat got seriously ill around thanksgiving and had to be put to sleep, then I experienced disappointment with a nice guy on New Years Eve, got confirmation in a hearing test in January, that my hearing had deteriorated rapidly and I would need to pursue a cochlear implant, then got laid off from my job in February. It all felt devastating as you know. But with my 50’s wisdom I like to think it’s the universe shaking things up to move us in a better direction for a more fulfilling life. Although it definitely feels like tough love to not have any control of when the shake up happens.
    Right now, months later, I am enjoying a delightful new kitten, adjusting to strange but better hearing with a cochlear implant and job hunting. I also got my first tattoo which I am thrilled with! It feels impossible to get hired in my 50’s with hearing impairment, but I have my fingers crossed that one of the 3 government jobs I am in various stages of the hiring process for, will work out soon!
    I think you did the right thing spending time with your parents for some nurturing and to regroup. I truly believe that reconnecting with ourselves and doing whatever makes us happy, small pleasures, new experiences and brainstorming new goals will lead us to the next place in our life journey and new happiness. A tarot card/palm reading too, if you are so inclined!
    I have enjoyed your emails and website for a few years and admired how together you sounded and pursuing your meaningful blog, as I was struggling with an unhappy career and starting my journey of reinventing my life at 50. So I just wanted to send you very best wishes and encouragement for finding your new direction and happiness very soon!
    Warmly,
    Katie L.
    Oakland, CA

  4. This really resonates with me especially as we enter year #4 towards rebuilding the home we lost in a fire. It’s been back and forth about imagining our future, but facing the reality of the roadblocks of “now”. We’re constantly reminding ourselves to be kind to ourselves and to stop comparing our journey to others. Cheers to starting from where we are!

  5. Catherine, thank you for sharing your story with us. I am sending you love and light in your journey.

    Marcella

  6. Always enjoy your blog. Sounds like you are doing what you need to do to heal after the last 6 months. Be kind to yourself and look for the small moments of goodness in your life. Meeting yourself where you are is a good idea. Moving forward is not linear. Over time you will see positive change.

  7. WOW Catherine…you have been thru’ a difficult time. But you are clearly on the way up and what wisdom you have emerged with!! GREAT stuff!
    Sounds like you are in an exciting phase of transition now, towards your next adventure in life!
    Enjoy every moment 💃
    PS Thank you for your openness, your insight and your inspiration 🙏

  8. Many blissful wishes & thoughts…healing has no timeline…the safety net in being around your parents is nurturing…& keep on writing these wonderful posts…

  9. Wow. You’ve been through a lot but you are a survivor and you will get there, wherever that is. I’m amazed you managed to keep writing. This article really resonates with me as I have been stuck and dreaming of the idyllic future. Sometimes you know what you need to do but a heavy weight prevents you from moving on, it’s like swimming through maple syrup! But slow progress is better than no progress and you must take your time. There is no deadline so be kind to yourself. Thank you for this and I wish you well.

  10. I was just talking about it with my psychiatrist yesterday, how I always think that I’m not living my life the best way because I see everyone spending all weekend – and maybe on weekdays too – outdoors, “living the life”, while all I wanna do is rot in bed watching youtube videos because I’m exhausted all the time. I thought I was the only one who felt this way, so I felt seen after reading this post. :)

  11. This post really resonated with me, as I stepped back from a 24-year friendship that did not have a healthy dynamic and a disappointing time on a dating app. I feel a little lost and unsure of where to go next, but this reminds me that I don’t have to have it all figured out.

    Sounds like you’ve been through a difficult time and that you’re finding a lot of gems of wisdom through it all. So happy to see your writing again and wishing you the best.

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