First of all, let me offer a big “Helloooooooooo!” I am finally back home after eight long weeks of military training and I am so excited to reconnect with all of you and return to DIYing and blogging.
Can you spot me in this picture? (Courtesy photo)
Stepping away from regular life for such an extended period of time has given me the rare opportunity to gain perspective about what really matters and what my priorities should be.
Today, I thought I’d share with you three ways I’ve found clarity through my experience and how I’m trying (yes, this is a lesson I re-learn every day) to make choices that will give me more peace and joy despite the struggles that come with a jam-packed life.
1. Embrace your insignificance. I confess that, as a wife and mom, I often have this notion that the whole world rests on my shoulders. It is my daily duty to feed and care for, clean up after, make happy, and instruct and correct all members of my family (spouse included). I guess I believe that, without me, nothing would get done … or get done right anyway. Admittedly, operating from the premise that all decisions should begin and end with me is an incredibly narcissistic – and anxious – way to live. And it can be really annoying for those who live with me. Being away for two months taught me that the show goes on without me around. People get fed, clothed and to school and work on time. Despite my fears, no apocalyptic-level crisis was triggered in my absence.
Although this may seem like a depressing revelation, it’s actually very freeing because it reminds me that my family loves me and wants me around not for what I can do for them, but for who I am. And it’s OK to let go of my annoying perfectionism and let people do things their way. I really can depend on others to take care of important things. And I.can.delegate. I have smart and capable people all around me who will rise to the occasion. Who am I kidding? I never had the time or energy to do it all myself anyway.
2. Say yes to only the best. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve read in a self-help article that we need to learn to say “no,” I’d be a wealthy woman. I realize this phrase has become cliché. And I think we all understand there’s simply not enough time in the day to say “yes” to everything. The real problem is that we aren’t clear about how often we need to say “no.” In other words, we’re still saying “yes” to more than we can comfortably handle.
So the growth and change is not in learning to say “no.” Rather, it is in understanding what is really possible to accomplish well in any given day, week, month or year. The word “well” is the key. To gain clarity on what to say “yes” to, consider asking yourself the following questions:
- What can I take on today that I can do well?
- What can I devote the proper attention to and do thoroughly, using my best efforts?
- If I say “yes” to this, will I feel good about the finished product?
- Can I take this on without sacrificing my health or well-being?
This is one of the biggest struggles I deal with every.single.day. I have so many wonderful things I want to do. Awesome … noble … fun things. But the truth is, I can only devote 100 percent of myself to a few tasks. This year, my goal is to give 100 percent to my most important priorities and fuggetabout the rest.
3. Get comfortable with pain. Here’s a sobering truth: Growth and positive change in life rarely, if ever, happen without pain attached.
We all have goals and dreams we want to accomplish. Many of us even have detailed plans laid out for how to meet those objectives. Many times, however, we get derailed from our plans to improve our health, work, relationships, etc. because we haven’t come to terms with the fact that getting where we want to go will require ongoing discomfort.
Simply put, if you’re not experiencing some discomfort or pain, you’re probably not growing. “Pain is weakness leaving the body,” as the old Marine recruiting slogan goes. We must push through discomfort to reach our potential in life; it’s the only way to get there.
The beauty is that what begins as discomfort or fear quickly evolves into strength, accomplishment and fuel for the journey.
Do you have any secrets for gaining clarity amid life’s chaos? I’d love for you to leave a comment and share the tips you’ve learned along the way.