Ever take a look at your calendar and wonder what the heck you were thinking?
It usually starts out simple enough, with the usual things like work, errands and appointments. Then you begin to add in things like special projects, classes, meetings, events, time with friends and family, volunteering and anything else that may come up. Pretty soon you get very familiar with that “what the heck” feeling.
I’ve had many weeks and even months like that! Now I know I’m not the only one – so this is not a “sucks to be me” pity party. In fact, I have very high regard for people who are busy with life and then add on the responsibilities of kids or others who are dependent on them for care. Whew boy! Makes my head spin! Nope this is just an observation from a person who is trying to take back some control of her life – one calendar entry at a time!
I could so easily say that this feeling of being overwhelmed came following the loss of both my parents this past year, and that the stress of those losses has had a major impact on my daily life. Yet while there has definitely been a change in me the last several months, I’ve been dealing with this issue for many years.
Part of the issue, I’ve come to realize, is that I have a moderate case of “can’t say no” syndrome. It’s not the main source of my problem, but in certain circumstances, it is a definite contributor. There are some things that come across my path that I just can’t bring myself to say I can’t help with – even when I know that I don’t really have the time. There is a definite pattern – I am asked for help, I very enthusiastically say YES, and then as that thing gets closer I am internally grumbling about why I said I could do it. It’s embarrassing to admit, but it happens more than I care to say!
Of late, the bigger truth has been that I am just trying to do too much. I have had to re-evaluate what I am involved in, reconsider my priorities and make decisions on those commitments accordingly. Nothing new – people have to do this every day. It’s not rocket science. It’s mainly about soul searching, with a splash of good old fashioned reality check! And for me, a lot of prayer!
So after a few months of thinking things over, I made some choices.
One of the biggest changes for me came this week – when I officially stepped back a bit from an organization that I have served with for several years. Not a complete split, but a definite reduction in commitment. I love this group and what they do – but my feelings of enthusiasm had recently turned to that of obligation. It had become another “job” for me – which I didn’t need! I feel that maybe if I cut back on my responsibilities I might get back that fun of participation. So we’ll see how that works out for me!
I also found some challenges in my faith journey. I was so enthralled with learning more about my faith, and participating in my church, that I found I was actually overdoing it. I had piles of books and study plans, but no time to read them. I was participating in small group studies, but outside of class I dropped the ball on doing the prep work for the discussions. In a way, I was so quickly trying to take it all in that I was actually missing the whole point of what I was trying to accomplish. So I made a decision to focus on those items that I felt I most needed, and let the other things fall in when it makes sense. I am also working to set aside some quiet time each day to build my relationship with Jesus, whether through reading, prayer or meditation. I feel like this will help to better center and calm me!
I chose to cut back on the time I spend on social media. It is sad to say, but Facebook is my nemesis! I love it for keeping in touch with people, sharing photos and updates on daily life. But inevitably I find myself getting caught up in all the drama that goes along with that site and it just gives me a headache some days. So while I’m not leaving it altogether – I’ve definitely cut back the amount of time I spend looking at it!
Lastly, I decided to cut myself some slack! I may not always be able to do everything I would like to, but I can learn to do the things I need or choose to – and be ok with what I couldn’t fit in. I might wish to have a spotless home or a perfectly manicured yard – but the truth is I would rather spend my time in other ways. I may not be able to go to all the places or events I would like to – but I can make sure to spend a little quality time with the people who are important to me, and with myself! I’m a work in progress – and I’m learning to accept that with enthusiasm!
So if you are feeling overwhelmed – take a good look at how you are spending your time and do some good old fashioned soul searching. There will always be those things that have to be on your plate, but it’s the rest of your time that YOU choose how to spend. I think you would be surprised at what those “time-suckers” are in your life. You know, the things that you spend your time at, but the pleasure or benefit you get out of them is not worth the effort. Or maybe you already know what they are and just haven’t found it in yourself to change yet. I say take a leap and clean out your calendar. It’s not always easy, but it’s often possible! Be ok with saying NO from time to time, and saying YES to doing what you find enriching!
Life on this planet is short! It’s not worth spending it overwhelmed!