So this is what I brought to the coffee shop this morning:
My laptop (so I could write)
My planner (so I could map out my week)
My to-do notebook (so I could update my to-dos, list the things I still need to get done for my daughter’s birthday party this afternoon, and go over the list of people I want to connect with)
Client tracker forms (so I could update session dates and notes)
A book (The 12 Week Year) and a second notebook (so I could define my goals for the next twelve weeks, break them down into specific steps, and put the first week’s steps into a tracking chart)
Headphones (so I could listen to a meditation)
- My phone (so I could catch up on emails and texts)
Super intentions for a jam-packed morning of efficiency and action! And super-overestimating how much I could possibly accomplish in the two hours I had to get my work done.
WHY DO I DO THIS???
I’ve always done this, by the way. When I was in high school my family would go skiing over winter break and I would schlep my (very heavy) science and math textbooks halfway across the country with the fantasy that I was going to do homework while I was away.
Of course, I was supposed to be doing my homework over break, so on the one hand it wasn't unreasonable for me to take the books. On the other hand, given the fact that I brought them every year and never once cracked them open, you’d think I’d have figured out that what I was doing wasn’t working, and that I needed to try something different.
Apparently I’m more of an optimist than a pragmatist.
I think this is why I carried so much to the coffee shop: I want to accomplish a ton, and I want to believe it can all get done, so I sometimes choose to ignore how much time I have to do things and how long things actually take.
This is at the heart of what most, if not all, of my clients struggle with.
They have big hearts and big visions; they see what’s possible and want to go out and make it happen. The problem is that most of us have never been taught to:
- Accurately gauge how long things take
- Take the time to prioritize our tasks and fit them into the spaces on our calendars
- Accept that we likely cannot do everything on our lists right now
If you’re willing to be honest about all these things, you can actually start to make conscious, deliberate choices about where you’re going to put your time, energy and effort. This way you can actually complete projects (instead of starting many and finishing few) and get to the things that are most important to you.
It’s not always fun, because it means saying no to some (or many) of the things that you want to do. But you weren’t going to get them all done anyway, and you were probably beating yourself up a lot for all the things you never got to. This way you can set realistic goals and accomplish them, rather than setting yourself up to fail time and time again.
Of course, knowing all this clearly didn’t stop me from wishfully over-packing for my trip to the coffee shop, BUT it did give me the amazing blessing of peace. These days I know when I’m overestimating, and I know I can’t get it all done, so I no longer feel like a failure when I don’t. Instead, I’m proud of what I accomplish, and I know I'm getting to the most important things on my list.
Maybe someday I’ll stop carrying all the the extra books, notebooks and planners to the coffee shop, but in the meantime I know I’ve already put down the heaviest burden of all—the weight of unrealistic expectations.
Wishing you a lighter journey!