Taking Breathers: Mental Pauses for Perceptive Goal-Setting

"Some things are worth digging for, even if they come up swinging when they are unearthed." Margaret Becker in Coming Up for Air

Women are known for being superb multitaskers. Simultaneously, they can answer the phone, caution an errant child with a look, work on a dissertation, and anticipate (and fulfill) the combined needs/wants of all those within their current radius. It truly is a remarkable skill. Getting more done in less time, being super-efficient, and expertly task-oriented...it's what women do. Kudos to women everywhere, right?

What was once touted as the epitome of a female's success, "this being everything to everyone all the time" persona, has shifted dramatically. Along with an ever-changing role status, women have become attuned to the fact that more (of anything) doesn't necessarily equate to success (which is yet another elastic American phrase). Today's woman now realizes that many of life's pleasures she has so eschewed for the sole sake of productivity has diminished her life (and her person), and thereby, and ironically, bears some blame for significant counter productivity. Go figure.

Author Margaret Becker writes that today's Westernized world churns the appetites where wanting...(you fill in the blank) becomes the overarching mantra of the entire society. Time then, is truly under siege as individuals give in to the "Do more, be more...accomplish five things at the same time - don't waste time!" catch-phrase. Which is why it takes regular thoughtful mental reprieves and life goal reassessments to simply stay on track. Instead of succumbing to the rote "this is the way it's always been done" ideology, more and more women are stepping back and re-evaluating the use of their time. Sadly, it is frequently those who grow too old or too sick to be "productive" who truly grasp this principle. They understand that a full life is seeing the difference between qualitative and quantitative (and embracing the better).

Becker challenges women to use time with care, so saying that each person must learn to nurture "an attitude of protection concerning the usage of time." This translates to being willingly present even during the "mundane tasks and pauses of the day" as we live lives in the moment, concluding that today is, "all we have here on earth, ultimately - no matter what we base our life on."

  • First step: recognize the standards by which you govern life. Review life patterns, current choices, and future aspirations. Are they quality or quantity oriented?
  • Second step: schedule in time for reassessment. Ask for input, ideas and observations from other women as to how they see you/your life. Is there a healthy balance between achievement/career success and relational/people connectedness?
  • Third step: adopt a brutal slash/strike mentality to eliminate any activity or task that promotes the busy is better mentality. Take on the, less is more, minimalists' stance regarding scheduling new commitments.
  • Fourth step: appreciate today, despite the angst and the irritations, learn to see and value every day as an opportunity to grow, to give, to be.

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