Recently I was chatting with a friend who was feeling overwhelmed. She was tackling several “elephants” and the conversation followed the along the lines of what I often hear and have experienced myself, “I just feel like I have to DO. IT. ALL”. Can anyone relate?
My friend was struggling to “balance” all of the projects, tasks and relationships in her life.
I asked her two simple questions, “do you have to do it ALL right now? And what would happen if you didn’t?
Because I’ve learned that I don’t really believe in “balance”. I think it’s a good thing in theory but balance implies some kind of equal distribution of time, energy and resources.
And in reality, that’s just not possible. We don’t divide our 24 hrs. into equal slices of a pie where work, family, friend, activities, home projects and self-care all get a solid 4 hrs. That would be balance.
Really life more resembles a dance with rhythms and consists of seasons.
There are times when work will require a greater slice of our time, others when a child may be sick or require extra attention, still others when we ourselves may need to make self-care a priority.
Like my friend, the biggest challenge I hear with eating an elephant, whatever that looks like is feeling like we have to do it all right now.
And we just don’t.
You can do anything, but not everything.
I’m not sure how said that originally but it’s so true, right?
When we try to do it all, we really very quickly can become frustrated because we don’t do any ONE thing very well.
One of the greatest changes in my life has come from shifting my perspective from chasing “balance” in my life to embracing seasons.
By seasons I mean seasons of life but also annual seasons; winter, spring, summer fall.
Every season brings with it opportunities and limitations and when we can work within the framework of seasons we are better able to maximize our time.
I would guess that your calendar also moves with the seasons whether you are intentional about planning projects and goals around them or not.
If I break my calendar into 4 quarters, that gives me 4 unique opportunities to work on goals and projects.
Let me give you a personal example based on some of my own seasonal opportunities and limitations.
- Spring: My husband is busier than usual studying for an exam for work; he will stay at the office and be less available during the weekends. I need to plan on being more hands on and have less of his help with the kids. Which is totally OK but if I added a bunch of additional projects of my own it would likely create more stress in our home.
- Summer: The kids are out of school, I have more time and opportunity to focus on my work and also plan fun activities with the kids.
- Fall: Middle boy plays football so need to take into consideration games, practices, etc. The weather will get more damp and cold, need to try to keep everyone healthy. Also fall means starting bible study and moms ministry back up.
- Winter: Holidays, time to rest and spend time with loved ones. Focus on ending the year well and planning for the following year.
These are just some very simple examples but you can see how taking into account our families seasonal responsibilities can affect how much I decide to add to my schedule.
It’s fall now and I had about six different activities I was considering signing our younger kids up for. They were all really good, fun activities but we can’t do them all. So I decided to add weekly swimming and homeschool science. That’s about the max structured activities I felt comfortable adding right now. In the winter I will have a little more availability (since I will have finished writing the workbook!) so we may add another sport but first something will have to come off the plate.
With any large goal or project we want to take on, it may feel like we need to do it all right now or that we just can’t find the right balance because something will inevitable take up more time and attention.
Perhaps you have your own seasonal opportunities and limitations. Things like:
- work deadlines
- family celebrations, holidays, birthdays
- seasonal church or ministry responsibilities
- back to school and end of school year events and responsibilities
If we can shift our focus away from the “must do it all right now” mentality to “I can do one or two specific tasks now and another one or two next month or next season” we will be able to make better progress, accomplish tangible results, live with more intention and be more present in our relationships.
When we try to do it all we really end up just staring at the elephant because it’s just TOO big to swallow.
How about we start with one piece now and trust that we’ll get to the rest of it at the right time?
Consider your own rhythms and seasons and the role they might play in how your break down your “elephant”.
And as a bonus, download my Quarterly Planning Sheet to keep track of your own unique seasonal opportunities and limitations.