The Joys of Extending Yourself

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Photo by RANGGI MANGGALA on Unsplash

Extend (v.) – Exert or exercise oneself to the utmost.

There is a steady stream of blog posts out there that are all about over-extending yourself. How to not overwhelm the system, how to say no, and how to take time for yourself. These are great and these are important, but rarely do they touch on the joy that can come from pushing yourself hard to do things that scare you.

These articles tend to focus on being too busy with “work” and “chores” and getting too caught up in to-do lists. I have to agree, building your life around a tight schedule of Must-Dos and zero freedom to be flexible is going to break your soul. If a 10-minute change in schedule sends you to a breakdown, you definitely have a problem.

But that said, going from 100 mph to 0 isn’t easy. Going cold turkey is going to leave you feeling filled with anxiety and terror. And no one wants to live that way. Instead of stopping everything and creating a huge void of time that you can fill with “a social life and hobbies” try instead to integrate those things back into your life, one at a time, with ease and care and focus.

Instead of pushing yourself to your limits all week with your almighty list of Must-Dos so you can take a single Sunday to lay in bed for 12 hours eating chips and watching movies (I am not saying you shouldn’t ever do this, btw) try instead to wiggle in a 20-minute session a couple times a week with whatever it is that’s missing from your life. Think of the thing that feels like it’s too extra and unimportant.

Friendships? Meet up for a 20-minute coffee break with a friend who works near you.
Fitness? Take a 20-minute walk after work before doing anything else.
Drawing? Carry a sketch book with you and sketch on the train.

If there’s something new that you want to try, extend yourself. Reach out and grab what you want. Make the commitment to take a class, or go for a run, or read a new book. Chances are your Must-Do List is full of things that aren’t necessarily Must-Dos, they’re just there because if you remove them you’ll panic with the leftover free-time. You’ll have to confront what your life really is–an endless to-do list.

I say this with love because I used to be this person. I’d schedule out my days with epic laundry lists of MUST DOs and circle them 50 times. I just had to write five new recipes for the blog that I was never going to post. And I just had to spend four hours meal-prepping when really I only needed an hour. I was driving myself crazy and yes, overextending.

But when I finally stopped all the crazy lists and took a look (a really close look) on what I actually wanted (ex. a blog to serve people) vs. what I thought I wanted (ex. a food blog/fitness blog/everything blog) I was able to dedicate more time, more focus, and more of my heart to those things.

So yes, take care not to over-extend yourself. Cut back on what does not serve you. Pay attention to what is just taking up time so you don’t have to confront your fears. Cut down on those. Be brave enough to think about what you want, whatever it is, and take those first few steps and extend yourself toward them. You’ll find time for what you love instead of forcing time for things that don’t matter.

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