You can do anything. But not everything.
This is a piece of advice I’ve dished out more than once recently. It seems many of my friends have been feeling overwhelmed and overtired with, well, life. People are being bombarded from all directions; there are things we have to do and things we want to do, culminating in too much stuff for any normal human being to deal with.
The feeling of constant business seems to be a sign of the times. There are too many things on the list, not enough time, not enough money, and definitely not enough sleep.
I love hearing the pushers of positive-mental-attitude-manifests-wonderful-things encourage us to believe that we can do anything. This can be a great thing; it opens all the doors, builds our confidence, and leads to success (when we combine it with action, of course).
But it is also a huge problem. It can very quickly lead us to feel like we should be doing everything.
Combine the idea of manifesting with constant peer pressure from over-curated social media feeds, and we end up with a subtly developed but deep seated belief that we can do everything. Cue failure.
Anything and Everything
There is a huge difference between the two. You can absolutely do anything, but you can’t do it all – and you don’t have to. We are much better off picking the things we want to focus on rather than trying to make it all happen. We cannot do everything. It is impossible. Trying almost always leads to burnout.
Choosing which things to concentrate on is a whole different topic, but for now – know this: You can do anything, but not everything.
It’s a piece of advice I need to heed myself. I have, once again, fallen into that exact trap. I have agreed to too much, overestimating my ability to squeeze it all in. Alongside all the things I have to do – such as go to work, eat dinner and clean the bathroom, you know – there are a whole host of other things that I want to do. I’ve said yes to quite a few of them. Too many.
Taking My Own Advice
I’m writing this sat on a picnic blanket in my tent in the north of Scotland. We are on a week long road trip to experience the North Coast 500 – ahhh holidays. We’ve are camping our way around the coastline up here – it is stunning. Okay so the weather might not be that amazing (hence the car rather than the motorbikes this time), but as Nardole said in Dr Who, this is Scotland weather, and I don’t mind it. It is bliss; I love a road trip, I love the freedom, the travel, the planning, the views, and the rest.
But in the run up to going away it all got a bit much. I didn’t have time to do anywhere near all the things I needed to do. Including things that were important to our road trip – such as mark up our road map with all the places we wanted to visit. And I definitely didn’t pack well, I have quite the selection of mismatching clothes and random accessories that are the result of having no time for proper list writing or thinking. It’s okay, I’ve been warm enough and thankfully those I’m with don’t seem to mind!
I tweeted on Friday morning that I reckoned I had about two weeks worth of things to do before bedtime, and I wasn’t joking. So much going on at home and at work – a list as long as my arm of things I’ve promised one person or another or myself, and I’m not talking about my bucket list either. Most of it is good and fun and happy, don’t get me wrong, no complaints on the what side of thing, but just too much.
Tired and Grumpy
Too much on the list means less time for the new stuff I want to do – like have more fun and exciting outdoors adventures in the evenings and on weekends. Having to turn down opportunities that I know would be life highlights, or even just saying no to a walk with friends because I am already fully booked is painful. It sounds silly, I’m sure, but when something comes up that sounds like fun, I want to get involved and go do. I want to say yes to all the opportunities. I want to to everything. But I can’t. I can do anything – but not everything.
For some reason I have never learnt the difference between anything and everything. This all makes for a tired and rather grumpy Zoe. And a tired and grumpy Zoe is the most unproductive person you might ever meet. I am a real mopey girl. I can be incredibly lazy when I’m fed up. And that makes the feeling of failure much, much worse.
So here I sit, layered up in a random selection of jumpers, cross legged on my picnic blanket, drinking tea made with powdered milk (ah camping…), allowing the words to flow to remind myself of this advice I quite happily dish out to others on a regular basis. I’m trying to use this very important downtime, when I physically can’t complete any of the tasks that are awaiting my attention, to stop and think. Scary.
I’m attempting to organise the mess in my head. I’m rewriting my to do list in an order that makes it more achievable. I’m making choices on what to say yes to (and therefore no to) when I get back home. And I’m repeating my own advice to myself – anything, not everything.
It’s good advice. Sound. Something we should all remember. And I am hoping that by the time we complete the road trip circle and return home I will have it all worked out. Or at least I’ll have caught up on my sleep, feel much more relaxed, and be ready to get going again in the real world.
You can to anything. But not everything.
If you are feeling tired, overwhelmed, overworked, like there is too much in your life for you to function properly, try to remember this: You can do anything. Absolutely anything you want to. But not everything. Saying yes is great. Saying no could be the better option. It’s the choosing that’s the hardest part.