Does “having it all” necessarily mean “doing it all?”
In today’s fast-paced, chaotic world, we’ve developed a strong tendency to “go for the gold” in everything that we do — and we’re under constant pressure to do so:
It’s not enough to have a “happy” holiday…it has to be an AWESOME holiday!
It’s not enough to join our family and friends for a holiday meal, it has be the equivalent of a MICHELIN STAR feast!
While excellence is a worthwhile goal, I’ve come to believe that we can’t necessarily be “the best” at everything that we do — and that can be a good thing to help us really enjoy what we are doing.
So why do we apologize for our perceived lack of “perfection” — thereby forgetting to relish those things that we actually enjoy?
There are only 24 hours in a day – and we have to sleep at least some of those hours. But few of us get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night, so our energy falters even though we insist on continuing to do “everything.”
The result is higher stress and an even more insurmountable “to do” list.
So why do we insist — either consciously OR subconsciously — that it is imperative that we “do it all?” Even more important: why do we apologize when we CAN’T “do it all?”
Priorities, Importance, and the Unimportant
The answer is to prioritize what’s important to us — because when everything is important, then nothing is really important.
The simple truth (albeit a hard one for many of us to accept) is that we can’t “do it all.” But we can do the important things — the things that represent our priorities — well. “Doing it all” inherently draws us off course as we attempt to also do the unimportant things in our lives.
“Unimportant,” however, doesn’t mean “unnecessary.” Unimportant tasks are those activities that might need to be done – but don’t necessarily have to be done…by us.
Therein lies the challenge: when we admit that a task that we have traditionally accomplished can be done by someone else, it often causes our ego to question our “value.”
One of the most valuable lessons that I have learned is to accept the fact that I am a human being. This is NOT a human “doing” nor is it a “superhero” who doesn’t need sleep, rest, and relaxation. It also means accepting the fact that I can’t do everything “perfectly.”
But, like many of us, admitting that I can’t do it all was and (to a certain extent) continues to be a challenge. At no time is this more evident than during the holidays.
When we believe that everything is important, we lose our ability to prioritize things into what’s really important, what’s not important, and what’s “nice” but neither necessary nor enjoyable.
Trying to do it all leads to feelings of being overwhelmed. Failing in our attempts to do it all leads to frustration and a diminished sense of self-worth. When we exhaust ourselves trying to meet impossible self-imposed deadlines, we burn out.
Yet we continue in our misguided efforts to go beyond our very human limitations.
How to STOP Doing It All (and Not Enjoying It)
There is a twopart cure for trying to “do it all”:
- First, we must prioritize what’s important to us…
- Then we must have the courage to focus our efforts on only those activities that are important to us
This means being able to say “no.” It also means being sufficiently confident of our own unique value so that we can feel comfortable delegating tasks to other people based on what’s important to them.
If you love to bake, then by all means bake your family’s traditional holiday cookies!
Hate to decorate the tree? Then enlist your children, nephews, and nieces to “go wild” with their imaginations in the decorations.
Continuing to spend days preparing the Feast of the Seven Fishes for your Italian family? Then scale back and prepare only those dishes that your family really looks forward to. (NOTE: I did this in my family — surprisingly, the missing baccala was not even noticed!)
But the most important step to STOP trying to do it all is to stop apologizing when we can’t “do it all.”
It’s time to accept the fact that not only we personally but also everyone else CAN’T “do it all.” This insight drastically changes our perspectives of what is important, what is feasible, and what is just additional “stuff” that has little if any true importance.
FREE De-Stressing the Holidays eCourse:
How to Move From Bah Hum Bug to HoHoHo!
Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning and Coaching company focused on eradicating workplace burnout through the B-DOC Model. To learn more, please visit her blog for individuals at www.a-new-way-to-work.com or her corporate blog at www.changewithoutburnout.com. For more tips and ideas, please subscribe to her weekly “Success @ Work” eNewsletter at https://drgeripuleo.lpages.co/success-work-opt-in-page.