Doing Less. Being More.

“We are most productive when we focus on a very small number of projects on which we can devote a large amount of attention.” ~Albert Einstein

I read something this morning that really stuck me: “Perfection is the enemy of everything. We all want it. None of us will ever get it. Even though nobody in the world has ever achieved perfection in their craft, we still believe that it’s possible for us. Even if it were possible, it’s not preferable. Perfectionism may look good in his shiny shoes, but he’s a little bit of an asshole and no one invites him to their pool parties.” LOVE IT! It’s such good, incredibly truthful advice….and yet so easy to forget, if we are not reminded.

I’ve recently been offered some amazing opportunities. And have unfortunately had to say no many of them. I’m not sure exactly what is going on here….is the Universe trying to tell me something? Teach me the power of saying no? The art of discernment? I’m not sure…I only know that the decisions have been hard. After all, I can be AND do all things, right?!? Sadly, the answer is a BIG FAT NO! I cannot. And neither can you. There is this myth floating around that we can do whatever we set our mind to. It’s like that commercial for women that tells us we need to go out get the bacon, bring it home, and fry it too. “The 24 hour woman.” It’s the myth that we can be all things to all people. This ideal that we can have it all.

The truth is that we can’t have it all. For me, I’ve found that “having it all” means having what it is that I desire-just not necessarily all of it, at the same time. Really, though this just means finding a handful of things that are important to me and focusing the majority of my attention on those. For example, I’ve been bombarded by requests and questions about why I’m not on Pinterest. I think (from what little I know) that Pinterest is great. But quite honestly, I do not have the time to devote to another “hobby” and even more importantly WHY on earth would I want to sign up for one more thing that leaves me feeling like “I’m not enough?” I’m not crafty enough, my kids birthday parties aren’t like so and so’s. And the list just goes on and on. This is my issue, obviously. But why take something on, just because “everyone else is doing it”? I’m not saying never to Pinterest, I’m just saying not now. And for those of you who are on Pinterest and love it, I think that’s great. I’m just sharing my personal story about trying to avoid the next “shiny” thing (distraction) that I’m told is destined to bring me closer to achieving my dreams.

I think too many people (myself included) make the mistake of adding to our plates with out stopping to remove something. It’s exactly like eating a meal. We can only put so much in before we start to feel sick, overwhelmed, and tired. We have to decide what we are going to put on our plate and what we are going to leave off. When we add something, it’s essential that we remove something. In order to make room. It sounds simple, yet so many of us fall into this trap time and time again , all the while asking “How DID I get myself into this?!?!”

I’ve recently decided to start doing less. While BEING more. You see, I’ve learned that my daily incessant busyness — too much to do and not enough time; the pressure to produce and tick off items on my to-do list by each day’s end — seems to decide the direction and quality of existence for me. But if I approach my day (and ultimately my life) in a different way, I can consciously change this out-of-control pattern. It only requires the courage to do less.

This may sound easy, but doing less can actually be very hard. Too often we mistakenly believe that doing less makes us lazy and results in a lack of productivity. Instead, doing less actually helps us savor all that we do accomplish. In time and with practice, we learn to do less of what is extraneous, and engage in fewer self-defeating behaviors, so we craft a productive life that we truly feel good about.

I believe that if we can fully own the notion that “we are great, just as we are.” And really let it seep into our mind and body, into our bones, it will make all the difference. We are each born with all the wisdom and imagination we need; we just sometimes need help and a reminder to return to our senses and get out of our own way. Sometimes we just need to let it sink in that nothing extra is required.

The truth is you have everything you need; just let go of whatever distractions, fears, and busyness might be hampering you. It really is that simple. Allow yourself to think and feel and live that way. Acting from this place results in greater composure, and when we act with composure, we are more effective. Now, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t lessons we need to learn and areas that we need to grow. It just means that we already have what we need inside of us. The answers are inside. Sometimes, it just takes the courage to realize this.

We know deep down that every life has great meaning, but the meaning of our own can often be obscured by the fog of constant activity and bad habits. By recognizing and changing these beliefs and behaviors, and we can once again savor the ways we contribute to the workplace, enjoy the sweetness of our lives, and share openly and generously with the ones we love. Less busyness leads to appreciating how sacred (and truly short!) life is.

It’s strange but for me doing less has lead to more love, more effectiveness and internal calmness, and a greater ability to accomplish more of what matters most — to me, and by extension to others and the world.

I encourage you to take a look at your schedule, your calendar, and really evaluate how much the things on there mean to you. How important are they? Are they allowing you to live the life you deserve? Do they bring you joy? Or do you just do them because you feel you have to? It’s what you’ve always done. Have these things (tasks) become so routine you rarely notice anymore? I challenge you to take a look. Start doing less. It will allow you to be so much more.

“The way you create any outcome in your life is to hold the vision of your deepest desires. At the same time, though, you must honestly and accurately assess your current situation and how it relates to your greater vision. By doing this, you engage tension between what is and what can be. This tension is the primary creative force behind the manifestation of any outcome. It’s as natural and powerful as the force of gravity”.~ David Emerald

4 comments

  • Totally resonated with me!! Thank you – What a great post!!
    Life is beautiful, Amy
    (Austin Bloggers)

  • I totally feel this. I am very overextended. Last month (and probably this month) i have had to say no to the AMOM newsletter. There is just no. time. to do it and it takes a lot of time! Losing naptime really did a number on my productivity.

    I recently started doing fewer posts for another site I wrote for, and it wasn’t until then that I realized how overextended I was with the previous number. So it was a blessing in disguise.

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