Written by Paul Angone Do you ever feel like you’re spinning sixteen different glass plates at once? The question not if they will fall, but when? And how many shards of glass will be left lodged in your legs once they do?
That’s how I’ve felt the last six months. My spinning glass plates? Being an Author. Blogger. Speaker. Full-Time Employee. Husband. New Father. Friend. Son. Brother. Neighbor…The list just keeps on going and going…
Where should my time be spent? What comes first? Second? Or not at all.
How the heck do you balance sixteen different elephants all jumping on the same side of a teeter-totter – without being crushed in the process?
It seems in this day and age if you’re not over-committing you’re not being a true red-blooded-American. Like those weirdos who don’t eat meat or watch Nascar. Freaks.
We talk so much about the need for “balance” because we have so much over-commitment. An epidemic of over-commitment. This desire, daresay sickness to exclaim, "yes of course" when your entire schedule (and soul) is screaming, "please God no!"
I myself am an over-committer. And I think it’s for two reasons:
Insecurity and Fear.
Insecurity – That no one will ever ask me to speak, write, or help again…
Fear – That no one will ever ask me to speak, write, or help again…
So I smile.
I say, “yes count me in!”
I regret my “yes” about 3.4 seconds after it exits from my mouth.
Then I spend the next few weeks passively aggressively trying to avoid the person I said yes too. (If you’re reading this and I haven’t emailed you back about that thing we talked about two weeks ago, I’m of course not referencing you here. However, I just went on vacation for about two months on an island without Internet connection (crazy, right?) so it would just be a waste of your time to try emailing me again).
That’s exactly what trying to balance the un-balanceable is – an act. You’re putting on a show and when the reviews of your performance start coming in they are going to be more rotten than rousing. Because when we take on too much, everything suffers. Even the things we used to do with ease and enjoyment are pulled down by the dead-weight of over-commitments.
So instead of life-balance, we need to work on something else -- life-prioritization. What’s the difference between life-balance and life-prioritization, you ask?
Balance: Carrying too much on each arm then trying your best to walk across a tightrope without the net.
Prioritization: Strategic, specific, and planned -- only carrying what is necessary so that the chances of falling are greatly reduced. And the chances of reaching the end successfully – greatly increased.
Life-prioritization is focusing, honing, and becoming very specific in what we will say yes and no to.
Prioritization makes finding balance extremely simple because instead of juggling fifteen balls, you’re holding tightly to a few.
Prioritization is simply, simplifying -- it is saying yes only to tasks that align with your values, strengths, long-term plans, and passions.
How do we become intentional with life-prioritization? Maybe before committing to anything new ask yourself one question: Does this fit with my long-term vision of who I am and where I am going?
Of course, this means you have to actually have a vision. Preferably written down and thought-out. Where do you want to be in 20 years? Are the commitments in your life pushing you towards that vision or pulling you away? How do you commit or possibly even begin un-committing to things that are not aligned with where you want to go? Instead of trying to balance dead-weight, maybe it's time to just cut it loose.
Start Becoming Confident in Where You Are Competent
Instead of finding life-balance lets find life-prioritization. Lets start growing confidence where we are competent so that we stop letting fear and insecurity say yes for us.
If any of this seems overwhelming and you don’t know where to even begin, start by getting Jenny Blake’s help! Seriously. It's not too late to join her May Mastermind program with the deadline to enroll being Sunday, May 5. I’ve had the immense privilege of being coached by Jenny and it was invaluable in helping clarify my goals and take steps towards them.
Let’s start prioritizing. Because for every yes we are in turn saying no to something else.
We'd love to hear from you in the comments below:
What's one thing you can cut that doesn't fit with your long-term vision?
Paul Angone is the creator of All Groan Up, a community for emerging adults searching for self, faith, and a freaking job. Snag a free copy of his ebook 21 Secrets for your 20’s and follow him at @PaulAngone.