By Claire Richmond | Founder, Hello and High Five 

I used to be busy for the sake of feeling accomplished. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about dreaming big and working hard. But my self-worth was tied to my productivity. Is it just me, or is that a great way to suck the fun out of life?

I’ve always been a burn the candle at both ends kind of person. That was until a serious health condition stopped me in my tracks. I have had to learn the hard way that pushing my body to its limits has life-altering consequences. I’ve learned how to prioritize what’s valuable and what’s important. I’m hoping my lessons learned can help others who live hour-by-hour according to their planners, never-ending to-do lists and cellphone apps.

I’ve lost some of you already, but that’s OK. For those who are still reading, this message is for you. In recovering from my stress-evoking to-do list addiction, I’ve learned four things to help me rethink and reshape my daily tasks.

1. Remember, you are more than what you do. We spend so much time working, and it’s one of the first things we learn when we meet someone. So it’s natural to equate our work to our value.

2. Align what you do with how you want to feel. Once I stopped treating my life like a box I needed to check, my surroundings became more vibrant. No longer do I feel rushed or distracted when I meet a friend for coffee, because I’ve aligned my time and energy in a different way.

3. Prioritize what’s important. You know that feeling you get when your phone chimes and you want to check it right away? That’s something urgent, not necessarily important. There are many things we choose to do day-to-day that are the result of someone else’s needs.

4. Give yourself permission to pause. Even when I was in a hospital gown, I had a deep-seated tendency to produce, produce, produce! Consequently, I wrote emails and edited designs that I didn’t even remember doing when I recovered. That’s how much I avoided the guilt of slowing down. Although the hustle can help you feel accomplished in the short term, you may find yourself meandering in the wrong direction and not enjoying the journey. Be sure you’re regularly coming up for air and zooming the camera out a little.

I’m a recovering to-do list addict. Sure, I still have sticky notes covering my laptop and a general plan for each day, but it’s the mind-set shift that’s notable. I know that a job is just a job. I have myself and my loved ones to answer to when the work bell rings. I get to choose what kind of energy I want to have and how I want to feel about how the day went. Instead of the goals I want to achieve, now I can focus on the feelings of joy and purpose in the tasks I prioritize.

Claire Richmond is the founder and designer of Hello And High Five, greeting cards for your fitness friends. She lives with a life-threatening metabolic disorder, which shapes her perspective on fitness, business and mental health. She believes in the power of greeting cards to project positivity and gratitude into the world. Claire is a graphic designer, a runner, an RRCA-certified adult running coach and a FemCity Des Moines business member. Connect with Claire via email.