What's On Your Plate?
I’ve recently found myself in that space where my intentions are pure, I have a plan, and sincerely believe that I’m capable of accomplishing everything on my “to-do” list. I quickly moved into that place where reality sets in, and I’m asking God for a duplicate of myself so that I can continue to be superwoman. However, because I know how quickly that can turn into frustration, guilt, and even depression, I pressed pause so that I can offer myself time to reset, refocus, and rethink my strategies.
Like many of you, I operate in multiple roles. I’m a wife, mom, employee and business owner, daughter, sister, friend, foodie, and that’s me offering a light list of the things that capture my time and talents. It is why I understand the pressure some of you face on a daily and consistent basis. The positions I’ve listed and the ones that are unique to you are valuable and necessary—for sure. This is not a post to tell you to lay aside some things, quit the boards that you sit on, or anything. This type of column is where I caution you to give yourself some grace and encourage you to have balance. However, that may be what you want to do. Ultimately, whatever you decide—you have permission to ensure that you are doing well.
We are often our own worst critics, and rarely are we able to see how effortless the presentation is of our hard work. Instead, we tend to focus on the five things on our list of 20 in one day that we were unable to complete. That sense of minor failure is then maximized, and our focus shifts from the greater list of accomplished tasks to the smaller unfinished items. Being kind to yourself and extending grace is essential. In so doing, you offer the opportunity to recognize how much you are accomplishing. More importantly, it provides the time for the unique reflection needed to determine how to continue.
Have you ever heard the expression, “your eyes were too big for your stomach”? It was a statement that the adults in my world would use when they felt that I put too much on my plate. During those moments, if asked, I most likely would have claimed near starvation and piled the delicious smelling and even better-tasting food high. Their concern was about being wasteful so, when they noticed that my hunger had been abated, they’d use that phrase and then provide instructions. There were options: I could give what remained on my plate to my always greedy brothers or another relative, cover it with foil and save it as personal leftovers for the next day, or realizing that it was not worth saving, they’d encourage me to rake it off my plate and into the trash.
When we agree to this project, accept responsibility for this scheme, or attempt to add more to our “plate,” many times it is because we genuinely believe that we can consume it all without any repercussions like a terrible stomach ache when we overeat. Our eyes, or rather our hearts, are too big for our capacity to do a thing well at that moment because we have not considered everything else that we’ve taken on. Our options are exactly as my wise relatives offered me.
1. Give what remains to someone else. We can delegate. That is when we authorize someone else who is qualified to handle a specific duty on our behalf.
2. Preserve what is incomplete and save for another day. Doing so creates opportunities to ensure that everything is done in the spirit of excellence instead of rushed for completion purposes only.
3. Recognize the value and choose to discard it. Not everything is for us to do. More importantly, knowing when to get involved and having the courage to release what does not belong to us is a necessary skill.
Friend, I encourage you to analyze what is on your plate and what is not for you at that moment, rake it off! Whether that means you share the load, save it for another day/time, or you altogether remove it from your to-do list. Regardless, what you decide—extend yourself some grace.