I’m a Type-A success fueled being. But over the years that desire for success has meant I try to do 100 things at the same time. Deep down I knew I was taking on too much. I was trying to balance taking care of my amazing almost-4-year-old with
- A very busy career (budgets and team building and projects and reviews and oh, yes, is there any space for a promotion?)
- Finishing a book
- Growing a social media account
- A photography class.
- Trying to publish these rants here for you weekly!
Never mind boot camp workouts, Whole30 cooking, laundry, friends, family and all that other stuff that I strive to make time for.
“I do not feel like a success at all. In fact, I feel like I am treading water,” I told my career coach. “I’m not making any progress. And I’m exhausted. But I’m not just treading water at one thing. I feel like I am treading water across seven oceans.”
I told her how I try to make progress on everything each day starting it off with the rule of 45: 15 minutes doing bicep and stomach exercises, 15 minutes writing, 15 minutes thinking about a Woody Allen quote for instagram. Then I’d tackle the rest of my day. You know, showering, putting goldfish crackers in school lunches and joining 8 hours of zoom calls. The thing about writing is that it takes more than 15 minutes to get into the flow. And it takes more than 15 minutes of exercises to develop muscle definition. I was going to have no story and no body.
“You are taking on too much,” said my career coach. “You’ve got to drop a few things. Otherwise you are going to skim the surface of multiple activities. Your daughter is not negotiable. Same with your career. So pick ONE extra thing this month and let the rest go”
“I can do that? I can LET SOMETHING.GO?” That defied all laws of my type A-ness. I mean don’t I need to keep 100 balls in the air to be a success?
“I think you’ll do better if you focus on one thing for longer.” she said. ”One thing. Just for a month. ONE sole thing for more than 15 minutes…..”
“Productivity is not about doing more, it’s doing what’s most important.” Tanya Daltan, The Joy of Missing Out: Live More by Doing Less
Of course I feel everything in my life is important. But perhaps it’s not all important RIGHT now.
To feel some sense of success and accomplishment I needed to dedicate that FULL 45 minutes each morning before my daughter wakes up to ONE thing. Yes, I did ask myself if I needed to shower to save time….but well….hmmm The Pandemic will end soon right?
But what if I didn’t exercise each day right now? (Gulp)
What if I instead set the alarm for 5:30am and got in 45 minutes of writing each day? 45 minutes x 5 days a week is 4 hours. Then If i could find 6 hours on the weekend during early mornings and my daughter’s nap time that’s 10 hours a week. After one month that would be 40 hours.
That’s a lot of progress on my book editing. I’d probably have it ready for an agent after that. Then I could then refocus on my exercise routine. After that it could be tik tok videos where I dance with a chocolate chip cookie…or whatever it was that I felt I needed to do.
I’m now encouraged to practice focusing on one thing. It’s going to be really hard for me to give up exercise and extraneous activities. But if I can truly make progress on ONE thing after a month I’ll be really excited and likely have renewed energy to focus on ANOTHER one thing next month. Less is more, afterall. Ok 5:30 am alarm, you’re on.
“It’s exhilarating to come closer and closer to self-discipline.” ― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
*top photo by Magnet.me, Unsplash