Sometimes it isn’t until a little time passes before we realize we have learned something. In this case, I realized today that my vacation last week has taught me something I needed to learn (again). It isn’t a new lesson. it isn’t profound. But to a task-oriented person like myself, it is a much needed lesson that I have to learn over and over again because I eventually forget it and return to my old ways.
The lesson is the title of the post – You have to let some things go.
The immediate context for the lesson is in the amount of time I had been spending on Twitter in the evenings for many months. I couldn’t stand to not scan every tweet daily from the hundreds of people I follow, so I would find myself spending up to two hours at home at night reviewing my Twitter stream, following links to articles, retweeting what I found interesting, etc.
Then came last week’s vacation when I intentionally limited my time on Twitter to maybe 30 minutes on average while doing something else like watching a newscast. That only was enough time to review a few hours of tweets, meaning that I missed tweets from the other 20-22 hours per day. That was hard. I soak up information and enjoy doing so. To voluntarily turn off the spigot when more was there for the taking was difficult. Yet, I enjoyed the freedom last week from having more time for other things.
This week I have continued the practice and so far it’s working out for me. I’ve had time to get other things done in the evening, or even go to bed a little earlier. The world has carried on and has not to my knowledge ended because I missed reading several hundred tweets daily.
The larger lesson for me isn’t about Twitter at all, of course, but about being disciplined enough to prioritize my life and what I want to get done, being the one in charge of that list rather than feeling like I am being controlled by a merciless task list that demands too much from me. That is tough for those of us with a strong task-oriented approach to life. That’s why I have to keep learning the same lesson over and over.
So it was a pleasant surprise when midway through my week after vacation I realized that I did not plan and did not miss spending large chunks on time on Twitter the last few days. I visited the site off and on as desired. I even participated in a couple of weekly tweet chats, but then I walked away. It felt pretty good to turn the spigot off.
Are there self-imposed demands in your life that really don’t need to be there? Are you placing more items on your personal to-do list than anyone else expects, and than you ought to expect from yourself? Are such demands serving as stressors and roadblocks to accomplishing other goals instead of serving as helpful additions to your life? If so, maybe it’s time to let some of them go.
What do you think?