My Only Goal This Summer Is Doing Nothing

Health & Wellness

Photo via A House in the Hills

The years I spent in therapy showed me the willingness to believe you can change is the single most important factor in setting goals for self-improvement. While the will to bring change into our lives can be a powerful force to contend with, it can turn obsessive and counterproductive if we don’t understand the why behind our will. 

Confronting why we want to change can be uncomfortable, because much of what we want in this life is intertwined with both the light and dark sides of ourselves. Does wanting wealth make me greedy or does it stem from my need for security and self-reliance? Does my quest to lose a couple of pounds make me vain or does it comes from wanting to learn to treat myself with respect? 

As I reflect on the double-edged sword that is being a woman who “wants more than what she’s been blessed with”  the only goal I have this summer is to give myself permission to evolve past the limits I set for myself. No matter if all these dichotomies were born out of patriarchal idealism (they are), it is me, myself, and I who have upheld them as standards of success for myself. 

This is where I would normally list goals and how I plan to accomplish them.

But after 35 years of hustling toward a goal, a finish line, a trophy, a better me, I’m here to say the only goal I have for this summer is to find out who I am without the hustle.

This isn’t about being lazy, complacent, or altruistic even… it’s about being content with what is by making room for who I am without judgment.

Letting go of hustling, being busy, or constantly doing THINGS might open up a chasm in myself that will allow me to get acquainted with who I am without being defined by what I do.

It is scary to think what will become of my business without the fear, the anxiety, the “Survive at all costs” attitude. It is scary to think about letting go of the constant drive to practice and perform because it is my oldest memory, my clearest sense of self that I can remember. Letting go of hustling, being busy, or constantly doing THINGS might open up a chasm in myself that will allow me to get acquainted with who I am without being defined by what I do.

If you’d like to go on this journey with me, I’d love to hear why and how the need to constantly grind toward your goals played out in your life. Was it burnout or a health scare that opened your eyes to a new way of looking at work? Was it the moments you missed with people you love? Was it getting the thing you wanted and still feeling empty inside?

I don’t have a one size fits all plan that shows you how to go about uncoupling your worth from what you achieve, but I do have a few articles that helped me articulate what I had been feeling for so long:

I guess you could say that my goal for the summer is to do more… of nothing. I’m hoping that reframing “doing less” as “doing nothing” may spark more breakthroughs and headspace to make decisions that are not blinded by impulsive decision making, lack of resources, or the fear of missing out. Could it be that doing nothing might be the best way to gain the thing I’ve been missing in life?

We’ll see. 

BY Kate Arends - May 27, 2019

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May 27, 2019 11:34 am

I still work hard because that is just ingrained in my personality and although if I commit, I always give 100%, I now know when to say no. It took losing my mom to cancer for me to get here. I always was hustling, looking to climb the corporate ladder, for the next promotion etc. Losing my mom made me realize that I was not put on this earth to just achieve. At the end of the day, my kids, family and friends will always give me more than any job, title , or salary. Just this past week I… Read more »

May 27, 2019 2:23 pm

You go!! sometimes, doing nothing is the perfect solution!! relaxing your mind and body might be the pause you need 🙂

xoxo <3

May 27, 2019 3:04 pm

I believe it’s stillness that brings clarity, so I applaud you. The direction and purpose of your life is revealed in the moments when you’re *not* hustling, but rather paying attention in the present to the pulse of the universe around you, by being conscious, then the answers flow from that. Enjoy your stillness. 🙂

May 27, 2019 7:01 pm

I LOVE this! I am also fully surrendering this summer. Letting go of so much to be present and enjoy life. I plan to do everything intentionally. We’ll see how it goes. Excited to hear how your summer unfolds.

May 28, 2019 6:24 am

This is great. The NYT had an article a while back called “The Cult of Busyness.” It was all about how we hold as a badge of honor how busy we can make ourselves, even at the price of our sanity (and often with less of the productivity that we brag about when we don’t give ourselves a minute to rest).

This is you creating space for yourself to expand into, in your own time, and it’s lovely.

June 1, 2019 8:45 pm

Love this Kate. Again, we are headed towards the same goals for summer. I’m feeling the need to get to know myself as well, without the hustle and the pull of constant do, do, do energy. A bit more being. Being present, being light, being still.

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