Are you a simple person or a complex person? Maybe you’re somewhat in between and just wish that life were simpler. Do you often ask yourself, why is life so hard? Why can’t I meet all of the demands in my life?
Do you spend hours every week filtering through the World Wide Web to find ideas that will make chores simpler, or storage techniques that will magically make your house seem more spacious, or ways to schedule your day to fit in that extra 30 minutes of excerise? If you’re like me and millions of other women around the world then I know without a doubt that you have a mental list already made up of things you could do if you just had an extra week off of work. Let’s face it, we could finally tackle and finish everything on our list if there were just a wrinkle in time that we just happen to fall into that lasted about seven days. Right?
Wrong! As nice as it would be to schedule that wrinkle and spend the next seven days getting caught up without feeling exhausted at the end of it, I am also obligated to see the other side of that fairy tale; the reality. I am positive that along with that extra time and the freedom (and energy) to do what needed to be done, would come more activities to do and more chores that we discover need to be completed. I am not a pessimistic person naturally; however, I have learned a few valuable lessons in my years. I certainly don’t claim to be a wise old sage, because some of these lessons are really just common sense.
Someone once told me that “In bad times we create good habits, and in good times we create bad habits.”
That’s a no-brainer, right? It is, but apparently we need someone to remind us of what we all already know. Like I said earlier: it’s just common sense.
When money’s tight, we cut back. When the dinner we just made turns out smaller than we thought, we just make the portions a little smaller. We deal with it.
But what do we do when our time is tight? When there is just not enough to go around? It seems as though we are scheduled out for the next 14 years, until our last child has graduated from high school. That’s enough to put some of us into panic mode. “Oh my gosh! I’m never going to be caught up!” We’ve got kids in school and day care. We work at least 8 hours a day, not to mention the drive to work and back. The stop at the grocery store a couple of nights a week to pick up things that were forgotten in the weekly shopping trip. Stop to get gas. Repairs on the car. Excersing (if we’re lucky). Preparing meals. Visiting with friends and/or family (again, if we’re lucky). And don’t forget what time of year it is. Extra shopping, wrapping, baking and visiting. Who needs all of this crammed in to their already tight schedules?
We weren’t built to handle this much pressure. It’s too much already, and it just gets more hectic every year. And let’s face it: we’re not getting any younger. It’s harder now than ever before to get everything done.
With New Year’s right around the corner, you’ve probably already started on “the list”. You know what I’m talking about. Your New Year’s Resolutions list. Why do we do it? Why do we all set such unrealistic and unreachable goals for ourselves? When we set these colossal targets at the beginning of the year and we’ve given ourselves all year to do them, it’s like we’ve set the bar too high on purpose. Allowing a little room for slippage. The thing is, is that while the months are ticking by, we are putting off these to-do’s, telling ourselves that we still have time. After all, it’s only June. Then, like a slap in the face, it’s the holiday season again and those extra boxes in the basement that you’ve been wanting to go through since you moved in 5 years ago are still sealed with packing tape, and that makeover to your home office that you wanted done by Autumn are now both just fleeting thoughts as we get busier and busier with the preparations to get us through the next couple of months.
So why do we do it? Set ourselves up to fail every year?
I know. I know. You’re sitting there right now rolling your eyes and you can’t believe you’ve read this article up to this point and this is all I have to offer. But remember, I’m on your side. I, too, have authored these lists and have felt the guilt and shame when I can’t reach those goals I have set for myself.
Show me where it is written in stone that we have to make this list once a year. Our lives are constantly changing. So…shouldn’t our lists be adapting to those variations? After all, it’s only paper and ink. In my family of six, there is always something new or changing that we need to focus on. For example, the car might be in the shop so now I need to focus on how I am getting to work and how the kids are getting to the bus stop and how we are going to get the items needed for Cassy’s 4th Grade party. So why torture myself with some monumental list that needs a frame and a special place in the center of the refrigerator door?
Make it simple. Short and sweet. To the point. Baby steps. Simplify.
I’ve often told my kids when they were younger to clean their rooms. If you have children you know that this part is an absolute in nature. As the parent, you’ve seen the room and knew, without a doubt, that there is no way your child will be able to get the job done in one day. So you break it down for them: Make your bed. Pick up your dirty clothes. Put away the Barbies, etc. The overwhelming undertaking becomes much more possible.
Why not take your own advice? I have. Now my list is created on a weekly and/or daily basis as needed. There are many times I will actually jot down my list of tasks that I need to accomplish for the evening while I’m still at work. Just a quick list of five or ten items on a scrap piece of paper. That usually gets condensed down once I put those items in order of priority. Then before I turn off the lights and snuggle into bed I can look around the house and know that I’m a little closer to my goal because I was able to finish everything on my clear-cut list.
Do yourself this act of kindness. Don’t make your usual New Year’s Resolution list. Who needs that hanging over their head all year? You don’t want to suffer the shame and you surely don’t want to feel the guilt at the end of the year when you know that you have run out of time. Simplify your list. Prioritize the list and then draw a line through the bottom three or four items. You’ll feel better starting out on your shorter journey, because now it’s going to be a cinch! It’s doable and it’s doable in a shorter amount of time. There are just so many other better things that we can do with our year then consistently fall short of the bar.
So, enjoy your New Year, with a simpler approach. You’ll thank yourself later.