Between work, family, activities, meals, and so much more, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and stretched too thin, and being this feeling of being stretched becomes normal and expected in your daily life. If you are not stressed, overwhelmed, and pushed to the limit, you think something is wrong or you do not know what to do with yourself. There is no doubt that live in a busy society. It seems like we keep taking on new responsibilities in our daily lives, without adjusting our schedules or focusing on our priorities, and it sometimes even seems that being busy has become some sort of crazy bragging right. The truth is that we often allow ourselves to get involved in too many different things, and when this happens, we start losing our grip and are unable to give any one thing enough focus things start slipping through the cracks.
It is important to remember that not all people are able to handle the same amount of activity, stress, and responsibility in their lives. Some of us can only handle one or two things at a time, while there are others who can successfully manage several activities at once. The key to success and sanity is to first understand how much you are capable of holding on your plate. That's right; imagine you have a large porcelain plate that you carry in front of you during all of your daily activities. Everything you have to do and all of your responsibilities rest on this plate. When your plate becomes too full, the first thing that happens is that things start falling off. When you do not listen to these warnings that your life gives you and you keep trying to maintain an over-packed schedule your plate will eventually start to crack. This is when you get yourself into trouble. Once your plate starts to crack, you start losing focus on the most important things in your life and things like your health, your relationships, and your sanity start to suffer. In other words, your plate serves as a foundation, and once that foundation begins to crumble, it is hard to keep anything together. Unfortunately, we do not often pay attention to the cracks in our plates until it is too late and the things we once thought of as priorities have fallen apart. This happens all too often in our society which is why it is so important that you take a few minutes to evaluate your life, your priorities, your schedule, and your capabilities before your plate starts to crumble.
The first thing you need to do is list your priorities. What are the most important things in your life? Maybe family, spirituality, and health are your priorities. You must make sure that these things have a place on your plate where they are nurtured, attended to, and loved. Once you have a pretty good idea of what is most important, ask yourself the critical question of the day: "How big is my plate anyway?" Truthfully, how much can you effectively and responsibly handle? It may take you some time to truly understand how big your plate is, but this type of self-awareness will allow you to grow, to develop, and to achieve success. It is important to get over the notion that having one hundred and one things going on and being stressed out are signs of success. That is just not true. Success comes in fulfilling your priorities, in enjoying the ride, and in feeling a sense of accomplishment. Make sure you always leave room on your plate for laughter, spontaneity, and surprise. Depriving ourselves from enjoying life does not make us more productive, only more miserable!
Once you have an understanding of how much you can truly handle at any one time, you have to next look at all of the responsibilities that you have. What things should be cut from your schedule and what things need more attention? You have to learn to say no when your plate is full and to ask for help when you need it most. This is extremely difficult for many people, and if you look at your at your schedule and find it packed with other people's errands and responsibilities, you know you have a problem. Do not be afraid to focus first on your own priorities and then if you have time, feel free to help out a friend. However, you should not start taking on other people's tasks when you do not have time to get your own things done.
Evaluating your capabilities and responsibilities is an ongoing process. You should be continually aware of how much you plate can hold and how stacked it is. In the midst of your busy schedule and running around from here to there, it is critical that you make time each day for your most important priorities. Even if it is five minutes, give yourself that time. Do not lose sight of your health. Be physically active and eat a healthy diet. Make time for your family. Listen. Be thankful for the gifts. Breathe. Not only will your plate stay strong and balanced but you will become more effective, more pleasant, and more successful, as well. So, before you go to bed tonight, ask yourself, "How big is my plate, anyway?"