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For a truly happy life, don't forget to take time for you

POSTED: July 26, 2014 10:00 a.m.
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Ask the Therapist: For a truly happy life, don't forget to take time for you

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Life is busy. With all that you've going on it's hard to get everything done in a single day. And when life gets busy, it's easy to focus on all the tasks that you have to get done. After all, getting them done means you can check them off your checklist. And with a few more tasks checked off, you might be able to get back to a less busy life and maybe even get back to some of those hobbies you haven't done in a while.

Unfortunately, focusing on tasks that you need to get done rarely frees up your time to do the things you enjoy. It just means you keep yourself busy doing tasks. And you never get ahead of the tasks because there are always tasks to do — like giving the dog a bath or finally finishing that home project. As a result, you feel like you're always being busy and you feel like you never get ahead or get to do the things you'd really like to do (like spending more time with your family or enjoying certain hobbies, etc.)

Focusing on tasks makes you feel overwhelmed
Feeling like you're always busy doing tasks that are never done never makes you feel good, and it never helps you enjoy your life, either. Instead, it makes you feel like all you're doing is spinning your wheels and never getting ahead. If you're like a lot of people, you might think the solution is to "double down" and work even harder on those tasks so you can finaly get them done and get on to what you would really rather be doing. But you'd be wrong.
In fact, in all my experience as a counselor helping people find fulfillment out of their life, I have found that the solution is hardly ever to "double down." In fact, the solution isn't to focus more on tasks at all. The solution is actually focus on something else completely — you.

Focusing on you helps you find balance
Focusing on you might seem counterproductive to getting the hundreds of things done you want to get done. But when you stop to think about it, it's not counterproductive at all. You don't really want to be doing chores. In fact, doing chores are more of a means to an end. That is, you usually want to do chores so that you can do the things that you'd rather really be doing, like hobbies or spending time with friends, etc.

Focusing on you makes you take time for you. It makes you sure that you do the things you'd rather be doing instead of focusing on the humdrum routine of life. It allows you to say with confidence that instead of waiting until x, y or z gets accomplished that you're going to take the time now to enjoy what you like to do. And it ensures that you actually do things that you enjoy instead of waiting for someday to enjoy them.

Taking time for you is not selfish. In fact, by doing things that you enjoy it makes sure you're giving your best to your loved ones who need you the most. Because you are doing things you enjoy it makes you happier and gives you more energy (instead of feeling distracted by worrying about doing things on your checklist). As a result, you're more present with the people that you're with. And because you're happier and have more energy, it makes sure that they're getting the best you.
So stop fretting about needing to get everything done. I've never met anyone who has looked back on their life and said they wish they would have spent more time getting things done.They usually say 'I wish I would have done the things I really wanted to.' But by letting the tasks go and focusing on you, you won't have to worry about looking back with regret. By focusing more on you and your interests, you'll be living life in the moment. You'll be more present with people around you and you'll find happiness now — instead of waiting for someday.

Aaron Anderson is a therapist and owner of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. He is a writer, speaker and relationship expert. Checkout his blog RelationshipRx.net for expert information on improving your relationship without the psychobab

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