In my recent reader survey (there’s still time to take it…click here), I posed this question: “If you could ask me one thing, what would it be?”
Several people gave some version of this response: “How do you do it all?”
First, I must tell you that I was surprised that so many people thought I was “doing it all.” I’m not sure exactly what that means, but my secret to achieving such status revolves around one word. It is one of my favorite words because it often saves my sanity:
I know what you are thinking: “Hey, Lynnette. I want to know how you do it all, not how you avoid doing things.”
And therein lies the key, my friends. In order to do everything that I do, I say no to a myriad of other things. I am well aware of my limits and know that trying to be Superwoman will inevitably lead to one (or all) of the following outcomes:
- I will get overwhelmed in a hurry.
- I will be stressed out, short-tempered, and unpleasant to be around.
- I won’t be able to do anything well because I am trying to do too much at once.
So I choose to stick to the essentials as much as possible and let everything else fade into the background.
And guess what? I don’t even feel guilty when I turn down opportunities that do not align with my priorities. I attribute that to a book I read a couple of years ago that changed the way that I view time, commitments, and busyness. It is called, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown, and is a must-read if you ask me.
One of my biggest takeaways from that book revolves around the concept of trade-offs. The following quote from its pages gave me some profound food for thought:
Essentialists see trade-offs as an inherent part of life, not as an inherently negative part of life. Instead of asking, ‘What do I have to give up?’ they ask, ‘What do I want to go big on?’
What do I want to go big on right now? Family, friends, faith, and creative pursuits.
To go big on those things, I must let other things slide. But, at the end of the day, I don’t feel like I am giving anything up because pouring myself into the things that are most important to me feeds my soul in a way that leaves me satisfied.I don't find fulfillment in saying yes to everything. I find it in saying yes to the right things.Click To Tweet
As Greg McKeown said,
Only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.
All I have to add to that is a resounding Amen! I would rather concentrate on making deliberate, significant strides in a few areas as opposed to millimeters of progress across a large board because I am spread too thin.
I am a woman of many interests. I have a growing mental list of things that I want to try, places that I want to visit, and skills that I want to learn. But I know better than to try to do it all at once.
There is a season for everything, and clear priorities are the only way to make each chapter of life fulfilling without it becoming overwhelming. They are the magic sauce that will make it almost second nature to say yes to the things that matter and no to the things that will get in the way of real progress.
So tell me, as the poet Mary Oliver so eloquently asked, what is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? What will you go big on? What will your priorities be?
Such a timely reminder of how to focus on what matters most! I’m in the process of choosing one or two creative pursuits for the next few months, and this helped me to realize that those couple are enough for now, even though I want to do so many. Thank you!
It is easy to get carried away with creative pursuits, isn’t it? There are so many things that sound appealing, and it is hard to draw a line, but so worth it! Good luck.
I am adding this book to my list, I often find myself frustrated or stressed because I am wearing myself too thin, and your post helped me see I definitely need to make some changes and focus on those things that matter most. Thanks for this!!!
You are so welcome, Kirsten! It is a fabulous book that goes into this concept on a much deeper level. I think you will really enjoy it.