May 5, 2009
How To Get Balanced When Life Freakin’ Explodes At You
Sometimes, when it rains, it pours. Too much comes at you at once, and you wonder how the hell you’re going to handle it all and keep everything in balance.
(This is the part where the typical productivity blog would tell you not to worry, for there’s seven easy steps to keep everything in check and get all those cats herded. But I gotta say it ain’t so. Sometimes there’s a stampede.)
Life Is Either A Balancing Act Or A Disaster Area
When you’re faced with a nice, wide open chunk of time – like a week’s vacation, or “every Saturday for a year” - you have plenty of latitude to decide how you’re going to get everything balanced. But life doesn’t always hand those opportunities to you. More often than not, you’ve got a tight schedule and a seemingly unmanageable set of tasks.
Time is in short supply, and you’re just going to have to do the best with what you have. And that means dealing with a very uncomfortable truth:
You’re Gonna Have To Let Some Of Your Goals Go.
Yeah. Tough words. I never said you’d like them. But you may be at the point in your life where you have to face this.
Perhaps the reason you’re so overwhelmingly busy is because you’re treating too many goals like must-haves, when in reality they are just things you want.
And there’s nothing wrong with “things you want.” Wanting is good. Taking action to get what you want is even better.
But wanting it all is a sure path to insanity.
You Can Do Anything – Just Not Everything.
As much as productivity gurus would like to sell you on the “You can have it all” mindset, it’s just not realistic. You’d need a dozen clones and a dozen lifetimes to scratch the surface of what you want.
So maybe you want too much. Not in a “you’re greedy” way, but in a “why did they put pictures on the menu oh crap everything looks equally good I’m hungry for it all” way. But here’s the thing – you can only put so much food on your plate in one sitting. Too much and you’ll get full before you get a bite of everything.
And you can only stack so many goals on yourself before all you can do is take one bite out each one.
That sucks, but it’s life.
And if you’re so busy you can’t see straight … maybe you’re just too busy by design. Maybe life is exploding at you because you’ve over committed.
And the painful truth is that the way out of that isn’t to become “more productive.” It isn’t to chase after 100 goals that look equally good.
It’s realizing that all your goals aren’t equally good.
Some are critically good, like spending good time with your kids. Some are damned important, like building up a savings account to protect yourself against the economy (or to just get yourself the hell out of a career you’re not thrilled with). And some are important, like chasing this opportunity or this project or whatever.
The challenge comes when we forget that a lot of the things we think are critical … aren’t.
In truth, you could let a lot of important stuff go, a lot of important goals fade, and you’d be happier because you’re nailing more of the “critically good” ones.
Not easy to deal with. Read The Power Of Less, by Leo Babuta. It’s helping me. It’ll help you, too.
Think about it this way – what goals, if you missed them, would make you feel like crap on your deathbed?
Chances are those aren’t what are causing you the majority of your stress right now.
I’m not telling you you need to do anything right now, except listen to yourself. Listen to the rhythm of your day. Ask yourself if this is what you really want. Get honest.
And that’s how you start getting “balanced.” By realizing that the reason things seem to be exploding, is because some things shouldn’t be on your list of goals in the first place.
More later. This is a lot to think on now.