Finding Purpose in the Mundane
If your day-to-day schedule is anything like mine, you do a lot of the same things over and over again. Although a new week may come, it oftentimes means repeating the exact same tasks you did the week prior. While repetition can be calming and make you feel like you have your life in order, it can also bring about great boredom and resentment. It can make you feel like what you are doing has no meaning and that you are just doing it because you have to. It has the potential to increase boredom levels and actually sometimes encourages procrastination, simply because you don’t really have anything to look forward to.
Having these kind of thoughts doesn’t necessarily mean that you are unhappy with your lifestyle – I think it just means that you need to look a little deeper to understand why these mundane tasks are so important.
Since I either work from home or in a small office alone, I have complete freedom over how and when I complete my work for my day job. So in addition to doing that work during normal business hours, I would say that these are the tasks I repeat the most on a regular, if not daily basis:
Workout (strength training, cardio, group fitness class, or yoga)
Clean some part of our house
Prep and cook dinner
Put things away that aren’t where they belong
Watching my TV shows
Talking to friends/family
Doing my hair/makeup
I’m sure there are more, but those are just the first ones that pop to my mind, and I would assume that a lot of them (if not all of them) fall onto your regular to-do list, too. To be honest, I really don’t mind doing any of those things, and I would actually say that I enjoy them all. But you can see how life can get pretty repetitive by just doing those same things over and over again forever. Some of them (like talking to friends/family and watching my TV shows) are obviously fun activities that I choose to do – not ones I have to do. I still count them on this list, because I really do feel “behind” on life if I don’t do them (in my crazy head).
For someone like me who really wants to have children, it’s hard to be in a waiting game where you can’t really work towards your “goal.” If you want a promotion at work, you can work harder in your current role to show your boss why you deserve it. If you want to write a book, you can chip away at it every single day. If you want to run a marathon, you can work through a training program. Please correct me if I am wrong, but what can you really do to prepare to have children? I’m not the type of person who wants to be obsessive about it and read a million books, because I know that would bring me crazy anxiety, so other than continuing to take good care of myself, not much can be done in the meantime (in my opinion). But please correct me if I’m wrong and you know of something I should be doing!
Anyway, I have obviously been thinking a lot lately about finding purpose in these seemingly mundane, repetitive tasks. How can I encourage myself to do them with an end goal in mind, not just to do them again tomorrow? How can I feel like my life has meaning when this is all I have right now? I came up with a few things that I think help me more than I realize right now, even if I don’t always notice that they are there:
Be willing to say yes to change. I could have a whole day planned out by the hour, including my work tasks, cleaning, when I am going to chop vegetables for dinner, and all the errands I need to run. But if a good friend texts last minute and asks if I want to meet up with her for lunch, it is such a welcome break in the mundane and always leaves me feeling refreshed and with a better attitude than I had before. Sometimes it’s hard to say yes to things like this because I think I will get behind if I do, but like honestly – what would happen if I got behind on most of those things? Absolutely nothing. So who cares.
Think about what would happen if I didn’t do those things. Nothing detrimental, but I would certainly cause more work for other people. If I didn’t make dinner, Chris would have to come home from work after a usual nine hour day and a roundtrip two hour drive and do it. If I didn’t clean our house, we would have to hire a cleaning service and would be spending excess money that there is no reason we need to spend on that. If I didn’t workout, my health would suffer. If I didn’t take care of our finances, we would be unnecessarily stressed out. The list goes on and on and like I said – nothing detrimental, but it would cause inconvenience for sure.
Make regular gratitude lists. I know that I am very lucky to be able to have the schedule I do and the opportunities I have been given, although it is easy to forget that sometimes when I feel stuck in a rut of doing the same things over and over. By taking a step back and physically writing out all the things I am thankful for, I am reminded of the blessings I have in my life and often feel re-energized to take care of our lives.
If you are in somewhat of a similar situation as me, I hope these three things help you out. It’s never easy to have a lack of excitement in your life, but we all go through seasons where this just happens sometimes. Remember that soon a season will come where you are ridiculously busy with holiday events, parties, birthdays, trips, etc. and you will be wishing for this boring time back…. 😉