Drop the Weight
We all have extra weight. Some of us more than others. And I'm not insulting you by talking about physical pounds on your body! The weight I'm talking about is the weight of responsibility in our lives. Our tasks. Our to-do list. The demands and expectations placed on us. That weight. People regularly comment on how much they have to do. How they will never get everything done. How they can't understand how to balance it all. And my reply is yes you have a lot, no you will not get everything done, and balancing it all is up to you. Problems solved. Next?
But I get it. I'm there, too. We are emotionally weighed down with stuff to do. There is always more to do than what we have time for. There is always something to do once the first list of projects is complete. And there are no shortage of expectations about how quickly we accomplish things, how effectively, and how much of a smile we are able to maintain throughout. Those critics, internal and external, drive us to do more and be more, lifting way out of our weight class. When you do that as a body-builder, you risk great injury. Why do we allow ourselves to carry around too much weight in our daily lives? Try any or all of these strategies. See if you feel a little lighter.
1. Learn to say no in the first place. This is a skill. This takes practice. Learning to admit that we simply can't do it all today, this week, or this season, empowers us to tackle with greater gusto the tasks that are left. By saying no to more activities or responsibilities, you are saying yes to your already lengthy to-do list and honoring your commitment to yourself to do what you can instead of doing what everyone else thinks you can do. We don't always have a choice, but when we do, be content with stepping aside rather than playing the superhero who conquers all tasks. Make sure you are running at breakneck speed for those things that are important to you, not others. Take control of your tasks by saying no.
2. Get real and remind yourself that everything is not urgent. We want to believe that everything we are doing is of critical importance. That feels a whole lot better than admitting that our list, and our lives, are full of relatively minor tasks. But there is no shame in the minor. In the shower that needs to be cleaned, or the household project that needs to be finished. We run around with our hair on fire, trying to do everything at once because we believe it to be so critical. But it just isn't, because if everything is important, nothing is important, right? So take another look at what you are running around for and decide to put to rest the idea that it all must get done or else.
3. Stop the social media tour of shame. I am so over perfect closets pinned on Pinterest, or Instagrammed children's lunches full of flavor, color, nutrition and cuteness. And don't let me see one more Facebook post of someone out there gardening in clean clothing, white sneakers and salon-worthy hair. Social media has its place and it is definitely not alongside my daunting and unglamorous list of demands. Social media tends to place more pressure on us to get things done to a certain standard (a high one) and keep the smile on our face while we do it. It is unrealistic, and it is damaging to our bottom line. Sometimes I feel like if I can't get it done like that, then what's the point? No one has those expectations of you until you decide to make it an expectation of yourself. Drop the social media weight. It is heavier than you think.
4. Let it go, or at least loosen your grip. Not everyone can just let it go. I know I can't. When I decide I want to do something a certain way, it mocks me if I don't and I just can't let it go and move on to something else so easily. But I have learned to at least loosen my grip - to relax a little about my timelines or even my expectations about how things will finally come to a close. I think with kids we learn first-hand how to loosen our grip with household order, or glass tables that are fingerprint-free, or beautiful dresses that say clean for the entirety of the holiday meal. By lessening expectations we are not waving the white flag. We are a simply saying its ok for there to be other outcomes here that still get us through the day intact.
5. Don't just do what you love - love what you do. The reason things in our lives become burdens is because we know we must do them. They are non-negotiable. It is a whole lot of work to grocery shop weekly, keep those healthy meals and lunches coming, and have a kitchen that is clean enough to pass minimal health codes. It is a ton of work, actually! I can't just take a hard pass on this, or we all suffer. So I learn to love it because of what it does for us. I love having healthy kids and fresh fruit in the bowl on the counter. I think about the outcome, which I love, and the task simply being the means to the end. We can't only do the things we love, but we can teach ourselves to love what we do, alleviating the burden. Saying this is what I want to do rather than this is what I must do lightens the load considerably.
6. Give yourself permission to rest. Going all the time has its consequences. We think we are handling it fine - until we aren't. Or it comes out in other ways. I might get through all of my tasks for October but it cost me any quality time with my husband. And all of those late nights working wore on my physical health, bringing on a dull complexion and tired eyes. I got Halloween costumes done, but I, myself, am undone because of it. Our physical health, emotional stability, your relationships, or general well-being should never come second to a damn list of stuff. If you have successfully said no (tip #1) and reminded yourself of the importance of things, or the lack thereof (tip #2), you will feel less guilty about pausing, stopping, or giving yourself another day to complete something.
7. Remember the journey. Everything happens over time, one day at a time. And there is never going to be a time when everything is done. Remember that. Remember that life is a journey that you create. You fill it with what you love. It gets filled for you with things you might not love. But either way, you get to decide how to approach and how to appreciate the opportunity to be and do and live and enjoy.
Extra weight comes in the form of saying yes, giving tasks too much importance, attempting to emulate social media, holding on too tightly to perfection or what should be, feeling that it must get done, failing to take any break, and forgetting the long game. Give your list a good look and see how you can lighten your load. And if you don't find the time to do that today, there is always tomorrow.