What if the day ended?

April 1, 2009

I had a day off today.  Lots to do.  Where do I start?confusion

In the past, a day off and lots to do often resulted in nothing done.  I got so overwhelmed with choices and pressures of choosing the ideal thing to do first, I would get jammed up in my head and say, “screw it”, and do nothing.

In drinking days I would drink.  In early recovery, I would just sit and escape with movies, sleep, or any other avoidance strategy. 

Dissatisfied with this behaviour, I eventually started asking myself a question when in this predicament…

If I were to do one more thing today, and then suddenly the day ended, what would that one thing be that would leave me saying,               ‘man, I am glad I at least got that done!’ ?

I would then act as if the day was going to end at some point unexpectedly and then just get on with that thing.  This strategy allowed me to put all the competing and paralyzing  thoughts out of my mind.  Such as…

  • Should I do this or that first?
  • What if I do this but later find out that I should have done that?
  • What would ___________ do first?
  • Man I feel like a loser for not being able to decide.
  • Nobody else has this problem making decisions.
  • Etc.

The crowded department store in my head would quiet down and I would get productive.  After I accomplished that, I would be re-energized.  Then ask  “what if the day ended…?” question again.  And do another task.  In vast majority of circumstances, the day did not end early or get interrupted. 

But even when it did, I finished the day knowing I did my absolute best.  I knew also that the serenity prayer that I had prayed so many times was guiding me to “do the things I could do”.  The results were amazing!  Looking back on the days, I always had satisfaction and peace.  I knew I had put “first things first”.

This morning… I had resolved that I had to prepare my taxes today, visit my Dad at the hospital, and do some housework.  So my first “that” was visit Dad.  Then taxes, then house.  Glad to say all were done by noon.  And had rest of day to be productive in other things.





  1. […] Original post by Chaz […]

  2. Chaz
    Powerful question! When I have asked myself the question, what I find is a very different set of priorities from that on my schedule.
    Things that are truly important to me rise to the surface and many things on my schedule fall away. Things that mean more to me, do not get put off, such as a call to my loved ones, or a card actually put into the mail, taking time to connect with my high power, etc…
    Lasting and meaningful things become much more relevant.
    Thanks, and now while I still have the time, I am off to actually be present in this moment and leave the thinking mind behind:-) ~Cheryl

  3. Ya Coach….

    I find that something on the list will undoubtedly get missed. By doing the most important thing (as if it were the only thing we could do) then we insure that this important thing will not be the missed thing.

    If we get to the end of the day and discover that we did not get to everything, but the thing we didnt get to was a C or D priority, it would feel far less deflating than if an A priority item was not completed.

    But the fact that we got an A done at the expense of a D is very satisfying.

    For me, it lets me sleep so much better and I find that life just unfolds so much more successfully. Therefore less stress and less reason to drink.



  4. Hi Chaz,

    Today I had the day off. I had a few things that I needed to get done today, and in the morning I felt like I was running late and might not get everything done. I read this post a couple of days ago, but didn’t digest it all. This morning, I was starting to feel anxious about not getting stuff done, or being late, and I had to stop and think and just slow down.

    I did what I needed to get done today, was a little late for the next thing, but nobody cared, and was able to get a couple more things done along the way. Now it’s the early afternoon, and I did everything I needed to do today. There are still things I can do, but they can get done whenever… so I think I’ll just relax for awhile.

    I always think that people will think I am an a$$hole for being late, but sometimes there are things I can’t control, so I can’t do anything about that. Your post (and other things I have recently learned) helped me to relax a little today and just do what I needed to do.


  5. Blu… I have always been really anal about promptness…. and assumed others were as well. If I ran late, I would worry myself into a state thinking others would be pissed at me.

    Since I have learned to prioritize and surrender in new ways, I can simply rest in knowing that I am doing my best (as long as I actually am) and that any lateness and others reactions are beyond my control.

    Life is so much better and frankly… I am seldom ever late. And when I am, my calmness and peace with having known I did my best leaves me in a position to explain myself without sounding like I am making an excuse or being defensive.

    Glad you had the experience you did today! Glad this little bit of shared experience was helpful.



  6. I just stumbled on your blog for the first time and I am very happy I did. I often struggle with the same and saw an interesting video about that question the other evening, slightly different purpose, but interesting nonetheless. Look in the ‘Recent questions, “By the end of the day . .”

    I am going to try your technique. Not sure if it will help, but I hope so.

    • Thanks Attain….. will check out the vid. Ya… my strategy to dealing with overwhelming feelings is something that works for me. Not saying it is a cure-all for everyone but it was a new way of thinking for me. I always set way too many expectations on myself and this really limits them and focuses on the most meaningful. That way if something doesnt get done, it is usually a less important thing because my first and best efforts of the day were directed at the most important thing first.

      Will check out your site and see you on the blogs.



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