It’s my usual dilemma: Too much to do and not enough time, energy, or financial resources to do it all. Like everybody these days, it’s a constant struggle to balance a busy life. I can’t do it all, despite what all those people say about multi-tasking.
When I multi-task, I just get a bunch of things done half-assed.
Then my perfectionism rears its ugly head.
Then I explode.
Then I have to apologize. (And I hate to apologize.)
But I really, really hate this vicious cycle even more.
It’s all about priorities. The problem with priorities is that a lot of other stuff gets in the way.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever said something like this: “My family expects me to do this because that’s the way it’s always been.” or “I’m a member of the PTA (or Sports Boosters or Rotary or Kiwanis, etc.) and we have a fundraiser that needs to be staffed.” or “I can’t say ‘no’ when they need my help.” or “The house is a mess and I can’t concentrate unless it’s cleaned up.”
Ok, we all have different priorities (and some are a bit more OCD than others). The trick is figuring out what YOUR priorities are. Not your family’s priorities. Not your friends’. Not the twenty service organizations’ you belong to.
What makes you smile and laugh? What gives you a feeling of accomplishment? What have you always wanted to do? Do you honestly need to belong to twenty organizations?
Let’s face it folks, we only get one life. Do you want to live it stressed out to the point you hate your life, the people around you, and, most of all, hate yourself?
Problem is, if you start asking yourself the tough questions, you might not like the answers. It can require changing things. And a lot of people have trouble with change. That’s certainly been one of my hot-button issues.
On an everyday or regular basis: Family. Writing. Reading. Cooking dinner. My health.
On a part-time or seasonal basis: Movies. Gardening. Visual art. Halloween.
Each of these things can be broken down further. For instance, not everything that falls under the heading of Family is a priority for me. For example, my daughter wants to be in marching band. I think that’s a great thing and I’m proud of how well she’s learned to play the french horn. However, marching band is HER priority.
It isn’t a priority for me to go to every single parade and competition my kid is in. I will support her by watching a few parades, buying uniforms, and getting her to and from practices and the bus when they go on the road. If they make it to semi-finals or finals in competition, I’ll be there.
My daughter is a priority for me. I love her and do my best to make sure she is cared for and happy as it is possible for a tween to be. But I will not make every one of her priorities mine as well.
I made a monumental decision a few years ago to start a novel-writing career. As a result, I needed to rearrange my priorities and change several things in my life. Some were no-brainers and a snap to accomplish. Some were worse than pulling out my toenails with pliers.
Once I changed these things, life wasn’t smooth, either. Periodically, I find myself in the middle of a crisis and have to stop and think about my priorities again. Which is something I recently experienced.
Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday. We usually set up a yard haunt on trick-or-treat night, and last year we started a tradition of having a Halloween party too. This year, we planned for a party on Saturday night and the yard haunt on Monday night. No problem. Everything hummed along, right up until I got sick the week before.
When I get sick, I’m a mess for several days and usually feel like death wormed over. (Appropriate for the holiday, but I was actually dressing as a living person this year!) Thankfully, most of the house was decorated and everything mostly planned. But the devil is always in the details and I still had SO MUCH TO DO.
I looked around at all the loose ends, feeling like something the cat left mangled by the kitchen door and, well, I felt it all closing in. I had a bit of a meltdown, though not a full explosion (probably from lack of energy).
I still had to apologize, though, dammit.
Anyway, my point is that I was forced to step back, reconsider my priorities, and plan accordingly. I scrapped a couple ideas for the party I didn’t have time for, went with a scaled-down version of my costume, and didn’t go overboard getting photos or video. On the day of the party, my wonderful husband took over kitchen duties.
Turns out, the party was a great success and we got compliments on the decor and food. But I still didn’t feel up to doing the yard haunt. Since it was a cold night, my husband offered to do candy duty. I stayed warm and cozy, ate popcorn, and watched The Bride of Frankenstein, and didn’t even mind missing trick-or-treat.
But I mulled over the whole situation and decided it’s best not to try to do both a party and a yard haunt again. Shockingly, the family was ok with only the yard haunt for next Halloween. Imagine that! While Halloween is a priority, I need to scale back how much I celebrate it.
Now I need to get back to all those other priorities – like writing!
Have you had to reconsider your priorities recently? What did you decide to do and how did it work out?