Are You Caught Up in the “Once I…” Loop?

Life can sure be busy. Between work, appointments, kids, life maintenance (car, home, etc), family events, and social commitments, you can feel like you’re a hamster on a wheel, running and running, going through the motions just to get to the next agenda item.

But are you so caught up in the grind that you’re cut off from how you really want to be living?

It’s easy to put your goals on hold thinking as soon as you’re done with __________, you’ll get back to it. Problem is, that almost never works. Life is going to keep happening so instead of pressing pause on your dreams over and over while you handle the current urgent task, best to learn how to keep your paperworkbigger picture fire burning even while dealing with daily life stuff.

I hear clients say it all the time:

“Once this project is behind me, I’ll be able to breathe.”

“Once I pay off that bill, I can think about a vacation.”

Once I get my book done, I’ll get together with my friends.”

However, doing those things now will make your current, pressing tasks easier, more manageable, and less daunting.

Pausing to breathe or go for a walk with make that big project not so big.

Researching vacation spots will motivate you even more to get that bill paid off.

Scheduling a quickish dinner or get together with friends could give you the boost you need to get through your writer’s block.

Sure, some projects require a significant commitment of time and energy, leaving you not much to do anything else. However, it’s in those times when you needs respites the most.

If you continually grind, grind, grind, you lose sight of the bigger picture and of what’s really important to you. Your life’s vision becomes buried under the clutter of tasks, projects, and responsibilities where it suffocates. It takes a whole lot more effort to resuscitate your dream than it would to give it regular bursts of oxygen.

Think of it like exercise. If your plan is to get back to the gym once you finish a, b, and c, in the time it takes you to complete a, b, and c, your muscles have weakened, your commitment to health has decreased, and the energy it takes to build that routine back up is massive.However, if you work out one or two days a week instead of your regular four, let’s say, you’ve stoked the embers and kept exercise a part of your life.

Being a taskmaster instead of a dream chaser results in regret in “should haves”. You needn’t choose one over the other. Both can coexist. The trick is learning how to balance the two.

So here’s your assignment for the week:

  1. Identify what quality-of-life or bigger picture goal you’re neglecting because of life’s demands. This might be small, daily gems like a walk or a catch up with a friend or bigger dreams like a vacation or a new house.
  2. Evaluate the current tasks that are taking up your time. Could someone else do them for you? Is it a commitment you could cancel? Is there an easier way to get it done than how you typically approach it? Instead of going on autopilot, pause to come at it from a new angle.
  3. Schedule at least one pleasure activity this week to support the notion that refueling benefits all areas of your life and to begin dismantling the belief that the good stuff needs to wait. If (when!) you feel resistance toward the relaxing activity, remind yourself that by doing it, you are, in fact, working on the pressing projects or tasks.

EXTRA POINTS: Take things a step further and investigate a bit how being so busy might be serving you. By keeping your calendar full, are you using it as an excuse to not do the things you say you want to do? What feels scary about pursuing your dreams?

Keep taking those steps to Live Out Loud.

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