The Slog

Life is feeling very sloggy lately.

Slog: to plod (one’s way) perseveringly especially against difficulty.

My life is not that difficult. That said for some reason it does feel very sloggy right now. Someone posted this NY Times article. So I read it, and yeah, I think I’m languishing.

“Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield.”

I think NY Times writer Adam Grant is probably getting a fair bit of notoriety for this article since it appears he’s zoomed in on the lives of humans and very succinctly described what the hell is going on.

I have been complaining to Hubs for awhile that I just don’t have my shit together. My brain is foggy. I go to do something, then forget what it was. I travel 2 sets of stairs to retrieve an object in the basement, but by the time I arrive, I have no idea why I’m there. Maybe it comes to me after a couple minutes. Or maybe I just abandon the effort. I think it’s a bit early for dementia. I’m chalking it up to languishing.

It also seems harder to do the things. Life things take more energy now. Parenting is more challenging, trying to find the lowest insurance quote is painful, it’s hard to find energy to declutter my space, I just made a pot of coffee at work and now I don’t want to walk ALL THE WAY to the fountain to refill the coffee pitcher for the next pot. This is a hard and fast coffee standard operating procedure (SOP)! The empty coffee pitcher is now on my desk awaiting it’s chance to shine as a full coffee pitcher.

Thank the stars for coffee, making life less sloggy.

Then there’s finding energy to do actual work tasks. I find this a bit easier because more people are relying on me to do shit, and I’m getting paid.

Some friends are not reaching out anymore. I wonder if they are going through the same slog thing? Other friends are reaching out for virtual happy hours, desperate to put a bright social spot in their quiet, pandemic-ey days, where we can’t get together, go on a little trip or enjoy each other’s company in person.

Needless to say, my FI activities have been lagging as of late.  I did get my taxes done, I increased my automatic contributions to my RRSP, I started a quest to find less expensive home insurance. At least I’m maintaining a bit. Nothing at all is happening in terms of generating extra income. I’m just going to have to be okay with that for now, until I can get myself out of the languishing hole and onto the flourishing mountain.

“You don’t have symptoms of mental illness, but you’re not the picture of mental health either. You’re not functioning at full capacity. Languishing dulls your motivation, disrupts your ability to focus, and triples the odds that you’ll cut back on work.”

How did you get in my brain, NY Times writer Adam Grant?

So what do we do about the slog?

Maybe you’re reading this post, and are saying “YEAH, that’s me too, T.” What can we do? According to Adam:

“A concept called “flow” may be an antidote to languishing.”

So WTF is flow?

Basically you need to find yourself a “project” you are a bit passionate about and motivated to do. And it doesn’t need to be a home improvement project, or work-related project. It could be binging a season of “Lupin” on Netflix, or finishing a challenging crossword puzzle, or immersing yourself in a paperback.

In combination with FLOW, you also need uninterrupted time to get into the FLOW. Adam explains that “Fragmented attention is an enemy of engagement and excellence.” I’m HORRIBLY BAD at giving myself uninterrupted time and focusing on only one thing. It’s definitely gotten worse as of late. I need to set clear boundaries to allow myself this time. Adam says to start with a small goal and grow from there.  Something a little bit hard, but not too hard. Something to challenge your brain.  I’m in a book club, so my plan is to have some uninterrupted reading time this week and really think about character and plot development. My reading efforts have really gone downhill during the pandemic (which is the opposite of what I thought would happen with more free time on my hands), so I think this will be enough of a challenge for now. I also have a strong desire to create. I have about 20 painting / drawing tutorials lined up on YouTube that I want to do. If you are into this sort of thing, I really enjoy the Artist’s Palette Durham Channel. They have free tutorials and reasonably priced paid tutorials also, covering a variety of subjects.

So how is your mental health during this time? Do you identify with the concept of languishing? What are you doing to cope? Take care of yourselves.

15 Replies to “The Slog”

  1. Great post and thank you for the artist tutorial.
    On the weekend I re-started a sketching class that I originally started in 2017! It really made the day go by quickly and left me feeling focused and in a good mood. Something new! 😉

  2. I’ve definitely felt this as well. Flow is so important and I can feel the difference in myself and how good I feel after I get into a flow and am productive. I highly recommend Deep Work by Cal Newport which talks about flow. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25744928
    For the times when I’m slogging, just remember to be kind to yourself. I would get down on myself that I wasn’t doing enough. But it’s OK to take a break, coast, and do other things. You can’t always be crushing it! When I feel that way, I found taking a break from FI content (Facebook, blogs, podcasts) helped a lot – removing the trigger of why I’m feeling like I’m not doing enough.
    Cheers to you, I’m sure you’re doing better than you think. 😀

    1. Thanks Sterling! It’s good to know I’m not alone. I’ve heard of Deep Work, but I’ve never read it! I’ve heard a couple of Cal Newport interviews on podcasts and I find him very interesting. I’m going to give this a shot…I think it is needed! It IS ok to take a break. Must remember that. 🙂

  3. I think you hit the nail right on the head. What you are feeling is something many (if not all of us) are feeling.

    I liken this pandemic to carrying a very heavy backpack everywhere. Sure I can get things done but everything feels that much harder.

    Good idea to achieve FLOW – I hope it helps for you. I’ve tried to focus on giving myself some grace. It’s okay not to be productive or optimal all the time. This feeling won’t last forever – eventually we will bounce back to our previous mental states.

    1. I love your backpack analogy. It’s perfect!! I agree that giving yourself some grace is very important. I have issues with not doing this enough. I hope the bounce back happens soon. In the meantime – grace and flow.

  4. I feel this so much right now! And that makes me feel really guilty, for not being more productive and motivated. But… trying not to feel that way and be okay with it. Also, Adam Grant is an amazing writer, I love his new book Think Again! (Assuming that is the same author)..

    1. Hi M, you are right – same Adam Grant. I will be checking out his book!! Definitely don’t feel guilty. I’m saying that but I do it too. At least being mindful of it may help us stop.

  5. I’m late to comment, but I read this when you published it and was nodding my head all the way through.

    I’ve also been beset with slogginess since about January. My life is good. Everyone is healthy. We are doing well. But I can’t help but feel like life is rather monotonous and grey.

    You’re not alone, my friend! Let’s hope our moods and energy levels lift as more of us are vaccinated and life starts to normalize. Hang in there!

    1. It is so hard! I was kid-less until age 39, and that was a big adjustment! I wouldn’t change a thing but I miss uninterrupted and alone time for sure.

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