You know when you think you’re pretty friggin’ awesome at something, but then life kicks your overinflated @ss a couple times (maybe more, if you’re a little “slow” like me) and you suddenly realize, “Crap. I kinda suck at that, actually”?
Well. Seems I’ve been deluding myself for some time into thinking I gots me some mad multi-tasking skills. For years now I’ve put up a pretty good front that I can “do it all”, and do it all well. Like some of you perhaps, I have a tough time saying “no” when asked to do, help with or be part of something, either because of she-guilt or because I hate missing out on anything. The problem is that we overambitious busybody types bite off more than we can chew, even when we’re already exhausted or overscheduled. Not surprisingly, we then end up anxious and overwhelmed or take care of business but with poor execution (e.g., tardiness, flakiness, forgetfulness).
As for me, I can’t even blame the insanity entirely on external pressures – what I think others want or expect of me. Because truth be told, I myself want it all. I want to be purposeful, I want to be present, I want to have fun, I want to be fit, I want to be holy, I want to be helpful, I want to be active, I want to be introspective. I want to work hard, play hard. I want to live well, write well, cook well, dress well, mom well, wife well, friend well, woman well. And that hunger to be on top of everything without dropping anything? It only intensifies if someone marvels: “How do you do it?” “Where do you get all that energy?” “How is it you have three kids and are still so put together?
Well, that’s just it – I can’t, I don’t, and I’m not. Or at least, not very well. I’m dropping balls left and right.
Last week, in the final hours of a 3-day, out-of-state conference I attended with a friend, I:
- misplaced the folder holding all my precious, copious, handwritten notes, and frantically retraced my day’s steps three times over without success (**happy ending: the conference organizers found and delivered it in the 11th hour);
- couldn’t find my sneakers from right under my nose, in the top layer of my luggage, as we changed for our flight home (so I had to stumble through the airport in sky-high heels lugging two big bags);
- forgot my curling iron and brush in the hotel room, which I found only because I raced back there (while the airport cab waited outside) to search for them invisible sneakers;
- panicked momentarily that I lost my boarding pass in the short distance from the check-in counter to the gate; and finally…..drumroll please….
- missed our flight home altogether, because Friend and I, both starving, were busy eating, recapping and laughing away while the plane boarded and departed, with our luggage still in it!
I must have groaned, “What is wrong with me??” a dozen times that day. But truth is, I needed that beatdown. What is “wrong with me” is that “non-stop, 24-7” is not an O.K. pace at which to live life. That snowballing debacle of an evening forced me to admit that being occupied all waking hours, juggling several tasks at once, or doing one thing after another with no respite in between, does NOT mean I’m “on top of things” or doing well. I can’t do it all. No one can. But I can slow down, simplify, and do less, do life, better. With more calm, more focus and fewer blunders.
How many of you (especially you moms) are feeling me just about now? How many of us are running a rat race essentially against “me, myself and I”? Honestly, to what degree are we forgetting, confusing and misplacing things more and more as we let life get increasingly, needlessly busier?
Friends, we’ve heard it said a dozen different ways:
“DO LESS. ACCOMPLISH MORE.”
“DO LESS BETTER.”
“FOCUS MORE. DO LESS.”
“DO LESS MORE.”
“DO LESS. GET MORE DONE.”
“DO LESS MORE EFFECTIVELY.”
How long can we afford to disbelieve or ignore this simple wisdom? If we’re to be effective and successful at even one thing in our busy and demanding lives, sooner or later we have to stop, simplify and prioritize. No doubt, we will live better as a result.
As if the message didn’t come loud and clear enough last week, God lovingly pounded it into me at church yesterday with a very compelling sermon on “The Undistracted Life.” If you’re serious about this minimizing and prioritizing thing too, come back later this week for Part 2 and I’ll share the three key how-to’s I learned for living an undistracted life and living it well.