Rebecca’s husband once said “When I was growing up, my mother always told me I could do anything I wanted but she didn’t tell me I couldn’t do everything that I wanted”.
It’s a high quality problem when we have lots of opportunities that we are excited about and things that we want to do but at some point we have to choose which of those many things we actually can do. Thankfully, many of us are able to do quite a lot and do most of them quite well. We’re juggling jobs, kids, friends, interests, fitness, hobbies, etc. and even though we might feel like we’re overwhelmed, we are actually managing to handle all of them remarkably well!
Questions to ask, though, are: How long have we been doing that? How well are we doing that? How sustainable is it? What is our quality of life if it is always intensely packed?
If we are at a place where trying to keep our fingers in all of these pies is having a negative impact, how do we sort through all of our commitments and interests in order to make them more sustainable-especially when they all seem important and exciting?
KC’s suggestion to the anything/everything quandary is to prioritize based upon your values and strengths. Out of all of the things you need and want, which ones sustain you most? Gioia also asks which ones are most essential to fulfilling your life’s mission?
An exercise to help you: take some time to list the areas of focus in your life that interest and excite you. You can either list them or use visual images. After you’ve done that, look through the list you’ve made and and pick out 3-4 key areas that are most critical to you right now. Then identify what actions you need to engage in for the immediate future to sustain those priorities. As we like to do, we are including some handouts—these on values and self-care–that might help you out.
When Rebecca did exercise this using art (the image above), she and Gioia noticed that the orbs in the picture not surprisingly all seemed to be swimming around without any clear order or differentiation. When Rebecca identified that most of the ones that were most important to her right now in her life were on the top of the image, Gioia suggested that Rebecca cut off or fold over the lower portion so it wasn’t visible. Rebecca immediately balked at this, recognizing that she wasn’t ready to completely eliminate those other things. Gioia then suggested that she use some other color to highlight those ones that she wanted to focus on for now. When Rebecca did that (the image below) it helped emphasize what was most important to her and also seemed to help her manage all of the options better in her mind.
This is a reminder that, when you do this, you don’t have to let go of any of the other things that were on the original list, you just get to put those things that aren’t priorities on the back burner for now.
Rebecca and Gioia
Make symbols for the areas of focus in your life that interest and excite you and are most congruent with fulfilling your life’s mission. You can either list them or use visual images. Pick out 3-4 key areas that are most critical to you right now and use your art materials to differentiate them. Identify what actions you need to engage to immediately sustain those priorities. Keep the image around you as a reminder of your focus areas, and also to reassure you that the other things can still be options in your life just not the main focus now. If you’d like, feel free to post them here on FB page. We’d love to see them!