One of my biggest struggles in life and business is impatience—wanting to do all the things, and wanting to do them right now. In some ways, this is helpful. It motivates me to be productive, get things done, and find fulfillment in that. But it also ignores a crucial principle that applies to every single moment: you can do anything but not everything.
One of my biggest lessons from life and business is that both are a long-term game.
As well as dealing with this in my own life, this sense of impatience or urgency often comes up with clients too. Coaching is a powerful process and, as things start to shift, people notice a world of opportunities that they hadn’t necessarily seen before.
I’m going to write six books this year!
I’m going to train to be a counsellor and pay off my credit card debt and start my own freelancing business and go travelling!
I’m going to do yoga twice a day and train for a half-marathon in 3 months!
I’m going to write 50 guest posts and blog twice a week!*
(*These might or might not be past “ideas” of my own)
I totally get this enthusiasm and—let me be clear—this post is not about crushing it.
This enthusiasm is what carries us through the points in any project or goal when things inevitably stop feeling so new and novel, and start feeling a little harder and grittier. This enthusiasm is highly contagious and often helps other people get on board with our wild ideas (or inspires them to come up with a few ideas of their own).
This enthusiasm isn’t the issue: channelled correctly, it can help us do incredible things.
In the long-term, however, the “do all the things and do it all right now” mindset isn’t sustainable.
It’s not sustainable for the obvious reasons: we all have a finite amount of time and energy to give in a single day. We have a finite amount of purchasing power and, as unsexy it sounds, budgets matter. Most of us have existing commitments that limit the amount of emotional, temporal and financial resources we can dedicate to the new objects of our enthusiasm.
It’s also not sustainable because, although this mindset is framed by enthusiasm, it’s rooted in scarcity.
The driving force behind that urgency is insecurity: wanting more than we have and in wanting to be more than we are. Behind that impatience is a focus on outcome, rather than process. Behind wanting to do everything at once is a lack of commitment.
Sometimes we want to do all the things because we are rudderless in a stormy ocean. We’ve spent so long listening to people tell us what we should want and should think that we don’t know what it looks like to plant our own anchor and decide “This is my priority.”
Sometimes we want to do all the things because we know deep down that we can’t possibly do all the things and that this is a great way to commit to nothing in the meantime—to not take any risks, not not fail, to not experience change.
Sometimes we want to do all the things because we want a shortcut. We want the life of the person who is 5 years ahead of us right now, so we try to replicate what they’re doing now, instead of what they did to get that point.
Whatever the case is, we show up as our best when we view life through a lens of “enough,” rather than “not enough.”
The only thing that truly exists for us is the present, and this is the truth about the present:
You can do anything but not everything.
Fulfilment, achievement and productivity lie in deciding “What is most important to me right now?” and having the courage and commitment to see it through. They lie in falling in love with the process, rather than chasing the outcome.
You can do anything but not everything, so what is important to you right now? If you had to pick one thing to commit to this week, what would that one thing be?
P.S. Want a daily reminder of this principle? I’ve been using Amanda Genther’s beautiful desktop wallpaper with the mantra “You can do anything but not everything” as a reminder of this for the past couple of weeks.
Image: The Typical Female Magazine