Do you have to take every opportunity that comes your way? What if the opportunity is what most people would think you should do next? What if the opportunity is a step-up in status? What if the opportunity is a logical next step on your career path? What if the opportunity pays more? What if you never asked for the opportunity?
What if the opportunity makes your stomach hurt? What if the opportunity is exactly the opposite of what your heart wants you to do? What if the opportunity is something you have never wanted to do? What if there are 8 things in the pro-column and only 1 thing in the con-column?
Do you take the opportunity? Do you try it out? Do you say no? Do you say yes? Do you follow convention and take the next logical step? Do you follow your heart?
If I were my own best friend I would say follow my heart. But here’s the thing, I have been writing this blog for over 8 years now, and you would think, based on the title of this blog, and the overwhelming content of this blog, to follow your heart and live your best life, that this would be easy. But it is not. Convention is strong. Expectation is strong. And the only thing in the con-column is my heart. So what do you do?
Confession time. I am addicted to being busy. I have lists of things to do. I have lists of lists. There are lists that refer to other lists so if I finish the first list I can start the secondary, tertiary, and quartenary lists. I try to do as many “things” as I can every. single. day. And at the end of most days I wonder what I did all day. Busy-ness. That is all it is. And at the end of the day I have rarely prioritized the most important things. But man, oh man, have I filled the time. Busy.
And yes, there are some things that really do need to happen, like cooking for the family and some basic house cleaning and some paperwork for the kids’ schools or taxes or paying bills. But let’s be honest (real confession time now), the busy stuff can fill a day or a week or months and at the end of the year I have not done the things I set out to do (the things I really want to do) because “I was too busy.” But really, what I did, was I filled the time with busy tasks to avoid the hard work.
Busy-ness is a great avoidance technique.
I do not have to take a risk and write that book I want to write if I’m busy weeding outside. I might be too busy cleaning bathrooms to set up the new blog I have been dreaming about. Instead of sketching out a series of pictures too print I am busy sorting the kids’ clothes. It’s definitely not risky to get busy cleaning the garage, but it is scary to talk with printers and figure out how to publish a book.
So there it is, busy-ness, lists and lists of to-dos, never-ending tasks around the house or for life in general – they are all excellent for avoiding the work I keep talking about and dreaming about, but not doing. Because, busy-ness is not risky or scary. No one is going to laugh at me for washing windows. No one is going to write a bad review of how I do laundry. No one is going to buy my organized notebook for recipes. But all of that stuff sure keeps me busy. And at the end of the day, I am no further along.
So, if I were my own best friend I would tell myself to start prioritizing the things I really really want to do. Take the scary steps forward and take a few huge steps back from the lists and the busy-ness. Make room for the important things. Push busy-ness on the back burner and do the things you really want to do.
If you have been “too busy” like me I encourage you to take a step back from busy and make the time for the things you want in life.
Last weekend I totally screwed up. For my health I have to avoid certain foods. If I eat those foods (on purpose or on accident, it does not matter, the result is the same) I feel really really rotten. If I eat more of those foods I feel more rotten. So I read food labels and do my best to avoid those foods. And usually I do pretty well.
But then there was last weekend. I was already feeling rotten when I bought something to eat at the airport (because I had accidentally eaten the food I was not supposed to eat the day before at an event). At the airport I thought I read the label and I thought it specifically said the food did not have what I was avoiding. Great! I can eat this, I thought. So I bought the food and I sat on an airplane for a couple hours eating that food. And I ate that food all the way home. And I continued to feel worse and worse. And I could not figure out why I was feeling more and more rotten. And I kept eating that food.
When I got home and was clearing out my bag I happened to look at the package for the food I had been eating all day and, well, there was my answer for why I was feeling rotten. I read the label wrong. In fact, I read the label so wrong that it even said the food contained the exact thing (in bold) I was supposed to avoid. So, I screwed up. And I paid for it for 3+ days. And at first I was really angry with myself and hard on myself about not reading the label and making that mistake. I gave myself a lot of not-so-nice lectures about reading carefully and paying attention and being smarter. And not only did I feel physically rotten but I started feeling mentally rotten too.
Then I remembered if I were my own best friend I would tell myself to be a little bit kinder to myself. I would remind myself we all make mistakes, honest-to-goodness mistakes. And we hopefully learn from those mistakes (like reading more carefully). And we give ourselves a hug, and make a cup of tea, and drink some broth and know that in about 3 days we will feel better again. And that is life.
Have you made a mistake recently? Were you kind and forgiving with yourself? Were you harsh and punishing? Did you learn anything?