Life is a buffet and I’ve got too much on my plate. (Can you relate?)
No one loaded my plate up for me, I did this to myself. I wanted a little bit of this, a little bit of that… oh! this looks good too… I wonder if I’ll like that? I’ll try a bit and see… I’m not sure if I really want this but so many other people are enjoying it so I’ll give it a try… and maybe just a bit of that… and oh! here are the desserts!
Before I know, it, I’ve got more than I can handle, even though I started out with the best intentions. And then I feel guilty if I can’t finish my plate so, I’m either guilty or stuffed, either way I don’t feel good.
This literally happens to me in actual buffet restaurants too, which is why I don’t go to them very often. The allure of the buffet is variety, I love variety! But I much prefer tapas restaurants: variety in small, manageable portions.
The analogy that I’m overloading my plate hit me this morning and it hit me hard, because a big reason I decided to leave my steady-paying job to forge my own path is that I felt overworked, overloaded and guilt-ridden that I never seemed to be able to finish my plate no matter how many hours I put in. Rather than a buffet, it was more like dining at your grandmother’s house where, just when you’re about to take your last bites, she piles on another scoop of casserole or spaghetti or whatever and says, “eat up dear, there are starving children in Africa” and “if you don’t finish your plate you can’t have dessert.” At times I felt like Sisyphus but, in this analogy, I suppose the boulder would be a meatball.
I wanted to get out of the demented loop of feeling like I HAD to keep plowing through my plate as the food (work) continued to pile on because there were people out there who would be happy to have any food (job) at all.
Eventually I did muster up the courage to push myself away from grandma’s table, with the intention of creating my own healthy, balanced, satisfying yet manageable meals (i.e., work-life balance.) And then I found myself at the buffet.
What happened? Why am I doing this to myself? Have I always been a workaholic? Or have the past 10 years just conditioned me to be this way? Either way, it doesn’t feel good. And I know I’m not the only one experiencing this. How do I know? Because a few months ago, a Hyundai commercial spoke to me. And I know how marketing works, Hyundai would not run an ad that speaks to only a few people. I’ll bet it speaks to you, too. The voiceover said: “Busy. It’s worn like a badge. Coming in early, staying really late. When did leaving work On Time become an act of courage?”
I found myself a bit choked up and nodding along with the commercial. I even rewound and re-watched it a couple times and recorded the audio on my phone as a reminder that I am not the only one going through this right now. I am not alone. It is a cultural phenomenon. One I’d like to help change, starting with myself. And, hopefully, sharing my own struggles with busy-ness here on this blog will help inspire you to make some positive changes as well. After all, we’re all in this together.
Today, I’m allowing myself time to go to the gym again after a couple months of “I’m too busy; there’s so much to do” excuses. Besides, exercising has been proven to increase productivity so, not only will I be doing something good for my body but, taking time away from work to work out may actually help me to get more done in a shorter amount of time thanks to increased blood flow to the brain and more energy. And it seems to me that most acts of self-care have the same effect; they help you de-stress which in turn leads to clearer thinking, better decision making and increased productivity. So, the next time you think, “I don’t have time for that, I’m, too busy,” pause for a moment and reframe that thought in terms of whether or not it will reduce your stress and increase your productivity; in the long run, that act of self care may GIVE you time rather than take it away.
So, with that in mind, what have you been putting off that you will carve out time for this week? Share in the comments below so we can inspire and encourage each other to live more balanced, healthier, more enjoyable lives!