I’ll never get it all done.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve made this statement over and over again in your life. And you’ve probably felt the hopelessness, anxiety, and overwhelm that comes along with it.
I’ll never get it all done.
Here’s the cold, hard truth – we’re right. None of us can do it all, and that’s not a problem. It’s thinking we can, or should, that gets us sideways with ourselves.
Pretending we can do it all sets us up for failure and disappointment.
“You can’t have it all, all at once. Who – man or woman – has it all, all at once?” This quote, from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is one of my all-time favorites.
You can’t have it all, all at once. You can have a rich, full life, but you can’t live a lifetime in a single day or week.
So why do we so often try? Why do we jam our days so full we barely remember where they started? Why do we run around trying to be everything and do everything, all at once?
I believe it’s because we have too many good choices. In our world, there are more good opportunities that there is time in the day. It’s both the blessing and curse of modern life. More often than not, we want to capitalize on several of these opportunities at the same time.
We want to be in great shape.
We want to be devoted, present mothers.
We want to build great careers and take on ever-increasing responsibility at work.
We want to give our time to causes that matter to us.
We want to build great marriages and friendships.
And, somewhere in the mix of it all, we’d like to get a good night’s sleep.
If we’re not careful, we end up chasing these unending opportunities until we’re a frazzled mess. We allow all the things we want to do to stand in the way of the thing we desire most – a sense of peace and joy in our lives.
To thrive in our world of endless choices, you must learn to set priorities.
It’s a simple statement, but it’s no simple task. Setting clear goals and priorities requires significant thought and serious soul-searching.
To set priorities that align with what really matters to you, you need know where you ultimately want to go – what you want the ultimate outcome of your life to be. You should understand what really moves you.
What gets you closer to the life you want to live?
What brings you joy?
What are the non-negotiables in your life?
You also must be honest with yourself about the season of life you are in. New jobs, new marriages, and new babies require an unusually large amount of our time and energy. On the other side of the coin, illnesses, job losses, lost relationships and financial strain can require our complete focus for brief periods of time. During these seasons, you may find yourself struggling to just hang on – and that’s fine.
With those things in mind, pick one or two focus areas for your life for right now. It might be your health. Or your marriage. Or maybe learning a new skill at work. Whatever it is, keep it to no more than three.
Then, build your days around these priorities. Carve out time for them. Say no, or at least not right now, to things that are not necessities and don’t fit your focus areas. Try it out for a week, or maybe a month. Learn what works for you and what doesn’t. Adjust and tweak.
Revisit your priorities regularly, perhaps once a quarter, to make sure they still feel right to you. Maybe some goals have been achieved, or you feel led to focus in another area. Reset and refocus.
As you begin to set regular priorities for your life, you will have a growing sense of confidence that you can build a rich life by focusing on a few things at a time. Your schedule will reflect what matters to you, and you will feel more freedom to shape what your days look like. And you just might find that sense of peace you’ve been looking for.
You can’t do it all. There are no trick or tips that will let you avoid that truth. But, you can live a life that is abundant and joyful. Learning to set clear priorities is the first step.