I woke up this morning with my mind on my to-do list. 

There’s a big project that I’m wanting to wrap up, new website copy to write, social media posts that need scheduling, emails to be sent, not to mention laundry and about 800 other tasks clamoring for my attention. 

So after making breakfast, I brought my cup of tea to my desk and set down to work. But I couldn’t focus. My mind kept hopping from thing to thing, and I could feel myself getting agitated. 

I pulled out my journal and began to write. Several pages later, I paused and read what I had written. Despite the fact that these are all things I want to get done, suddenly everything on my to-do list felt draining. 

I’ve been here before. Pushed myself too hard, to the point that even things I’d normally enjoy feel like a chore. When this happens, I know that the best thing for me is to take a break, give myself permission to do something that feels delightful

And yet, my inner taskmaster was having a field day, telling me about all of the things that HAVE to get done, everything I SHOULD be doing.

Instead of looping in with thoughts of dread and obligation, I asked myself “What do I want to be doing today? What would feel like delight?” 

Immediately the response came – PAINT. 

And, just as quickly, the taskmaster jumped in, with all of her usual arguments about why I can’t paint today. 

“You don’t have time to paint!! You have work to do! Painting is a waste of time. You can’t do that now! You need to be PRODUCTIVE!”

And there it was. The lie holding the taskmaster’s argument together. 

See, I’ve spent a lot of time with my taskmaster. I know her tactics. 

She’s not bad, but she’s very misguided. She believes that the world will literally fall apart if I’m not doing ALL. THE. THINGS. 

And everything on the to-do list is urgent and important and MUST BE DONE IMMEDIATELY. Or at least as soon as humanly possible. 

AND all the things must be done before we can relax, because that is what productive people do, and productivity is GOOD and WORTHY and VIRTUOUS.

I used to listen to the taskmaster without question. After all, she served me extremely well in Corporate America. I was a go-getter, the go-to when you wanted to get things done, and the taskmaster made sure I kept all the plates spinning, all the time. 

Here’s what I know now – the taskmaster is just one part of me, and she isn’t always right (in fact, she’s wrong A LOT of the time.) 

There’s another part of me – a wiser, gentler part, one that stays calm no matter how much of a fuss the taskmaster kicks up. An Inner Guide that always knows what’s right for me, even if it doesn’t make logical sense.

Take for example today’s nudge to paint. 

The taskmaster says, “Painting isn’t productive!!” 

The Inner Guide reminds, “Painting restores the soul.” 

The taskmaster screeches, “There’s no time to restore the soul, there’s WORK to do!”

The Guide responds, “Some of the best ideas have come during a painting session.”

The taskmaster pleads, “Yes, but we’ll feel better once all the to-dos are done. Probably. At least, I’m pretty sure.” 

The Guide replies, “We’ll feel better after we paint – more energized, connected, creative, and ALIVE.“ 

You get the gist. 

For the most part, I’ve learned to listen to my Inner Guide, to trust that calm voice inside and allow it to lead. 

It’s not always easy to follow the Guide (the taskmaster is VERY persuasive), but it’s never led me astray. 

It helps that I’ve also learned that moving in the direction of delight not only makes me feel better – more energized and connected and alive – it also opens up pathways of creativity and inspiration that I simply cannot access in any other way.

And yes, it restores my soul, reminding me of what’s most important, and what I truly value. 

In that sense, giving myself permission to follow delight isn’t just a good idea for feeling better. 

It’s also one of the most productive things I can do

This week, I’d like to invite you to find one thing that sparks delight for you, and give yourself permission to follow where it leads. If you feel so inspired, drop me a line and let me know how it goes – I’d love to hear from you!)