Have you ever tried to keep a bunch of different plates spinning? It’s difficult to do. You leave one to pay attention to another, and it falls. Then another falls. Then another falls. Then there’s chaos.
Does this sound like your life? Do you find yourself running from one thing to another creating some chaos in the midst of everything you’re doing?
We all have “seasons” like this from time to time. Some tend to live their lives in those mode for much of the time. We all know that we don’t want this, but we keep falling into this trap, over and over again.
As I am currently living in a “plate spinning” mode, I began to ask myself, “How did you get here?” I know better. I help other people to avoid this. I teach people the pitfalls of living this way, yet here I am, buried and burdened and a little out of control.
This is what I’m figuring out: This doesn’t just happen. We INVITE it. How do we do that? Here’s the list…. again:
#1) We don’t know how to say “NO”. We say yes to one too many things, and it takes away the margins in our lives, forcing us to cut out the things that keep us sane in order to keep the plates spinning.
#2) We make bad decisions. It’s amazing how good things looked 12 months ago when I was planning this time my life, however, 12 months ago I didn’t have the full picture. I made some decisions with no real idea of what I would need to be doing now. This is really hard to do. The lesson I’m learning is to be very cautious about commitments I’m making for the future, and thinking hard on them before agreeing. Again, really difficult, but I tend to say YES too easily. I need to do better at planning, and even better at saying NO.
#3) We hesitate. When we finally begin to see our lives moving out of control, we have a short opportunity to make some changes, but we hesitate. We don’t want to hurt people’s feelings, we don’t want to let anyone down, so we suffer through it. I need to do a better job of making tough decisions when I begin to see what’s happening. This is tied to my priorities: Where do I need to spending my time and energy? What is the most important use of my time?
#4) We thrive on it. Sometimes, we think that living in chaos, being extremely busy and doing a lot is a sign of success. It’s not. It’s our inability to manage, control and plan. Sometimes I even find a little bit of sympathy from people when I share how busy I am. I don’t want sympathy. I want to be more effective.
“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside. The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.””
Stephen R. Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People)
Seasons will come and go. Sometimes, there is absolutely nothing you can do about it, but for some of us, we need to learn from past mistakes and try harder to avoid living our lives like this.