This was first published in my weekly newsletter. It seemed to really resonate with readers, so I am publishing it here too. If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, you can do so here. I write exclusive content weekly – it is worth signing up for I promise!
A by-product of sharing online is that you get asked lots of questions about what you do and how you do things. I actually like this is as it helps me to work out what content might be of use to readers of the blog. Readers will email in questions and each year I survey my readers and allow them the opportunity to ask questions anonymously.
One of the most often asked questions is “how do I do it all?“. It is a big question and from further discussion with readers what they mean when they ask this question is how do I manage to:
- train and run for marathons (currently just training and waiting that one day soon there will be a marathon race event to run in!)
- care for, nurture and spend quality time with our five kids
- have a great relationship with my husband
- run my own small business
- cook food from scratch
- and still stay sane!
You may note that the list above isn’t really doing it all. For example, I don’t:
- Grow veggies – I tried this but in the end, I didn’t give it the time it needed to be successful. I just grow two things now baby spinach and mint!
- Have chooks – I set myself the hurdle of having to look after and grow lots of veggies for a year first before I could have chooks. As I didn’t achieve that I know I don’t really have the full commitment for chooks.
- Watch TV/Netflix/Stan/Movies etc – I am not anti this at all but I simply opt for sleep so I can get up and run early in the morning.
- Sew my own clothes – I have tried this too. It takes me ages, I find it hard and I don’t really enjoy it.
- Currently entertain at home on a regular basis – this was even prior to COVID and I would love this, but it would require a time commitment from me to do this and also work through some logistics with older family members. I have decided not to do this at the moment.
- Travel often – I would love to travel more, but we have currently chosen to allocate our financial resources elsewhere.
The most important thing about these two lists is not what kind of activities are on each of them, but that I have made a conscious choice about what I do and what I don’t do.
It would have been very easy to write next to all the items on the second list, that I can’t do it because I don’t have time. But that is simply not the truth. I could watch more Netflix and movies if I didn’t get up at 5am to go for a run. I could invest the time to learn to sew better or be a better gardener, but I actually really don’t want to.
As internationally renowned psychiatrist, David R. Hawkins wrote:
Another way out of apathy is to look at the payoff we are getting out of the apathetic attitudes. The payoff may be in the face-saving excuses to cover up what is actually fear. Since in reality, we are very capable beings, most ‘I can’ts’ are really ‘I won’ts.
Behind all of the “I can’ts” are merely “I won’ts.” The “I won’ts” mean “I am afraid to” or “I am ashamed to” or “I have too much pride to try, for fear I might fail.
This does sound harsh but I think it to be very true. I love cooking and I am happy to spend time in the kitchen. It doesn’t feel like a chore to me, but when I was trying to get my veggie garden up and running, I had to force myself to do it and it felt like a chore. For so many people I know, the garden is their happy place (my husband included!). I still love the idea of gardening and growing all my own food, but I have accepted that I am not currently prepared to commit to it at this point in time – I won’t do it. I love grabbing spinach for my smoothies and mint for spring rolls from the garden and I am happy to settle with that for the moment.
My answer to how do I do it all is that I don’t do it all. I do things that are important to me and my family and I gracefully accept there will be things (many) I won’t do – and they are “won’ts”. I am completely capable of doing them, I am choosing not do them. I make conscious choices about where I spend my time and focus my time and energy on those, not leaking time and energy fretting over what I am not doing.
It can be so easy to look at what others are doing and think I should be doing that. Social media can be particularly triggering and I know I feel it at times too. This is why I find it so important to have goals (business, personal, physical), and every time I am feeling pulled to do something just because I saw someone else do it, I check back in with my goals. I ask myself if I am prepared to move time away from my goal and divert it to this new activity. To date, I have not said yes.
The sense of achievement you receive from reaching your goals far outweighs any FOMO you may feel along the way. You have a greater sense of overall contentment and confidence in your daily actions that makes you happier and gives you energy – some pep in your step!
So when people ask me how do I do it all, I think it is this they are really questioning. They would know I don’t do everything, but from reading the blog, they know I do achieve some big things and read in monthly reviews a sense of contentment and gratitude for the life I have.
I put some thought into what I do and I choose to do what is important to me, do it with intention and joy, work hard, and try to do it as best as I can. I definitely don’t always succeed. But the wonderful thing is, even though I may not have fully achieved my goal, I have progressed further and done much more than I would have if I hadn’t had a goal to work towards.
If you haven’t set a goal for this year, now is the perfect day to do so!