Have you been in this place? Are you there now? Blessings abound and all is going great- but you feel like too much is buzzing all around? Are you so thankful for so much but terrified at the sheer pace of your life? Has busy become your new normal? Does every hour feel like rush hour? Does abundance sometimes feel overindulgent, burdensome even? I certainly have been there and still fight daily to keep from finding myself right back there- in that spot where my cup runs over but my plate is too full.
I have always found it quite ironic that these two sayings, which really describe the same thing, can have such different meanings. When our cup runs over we usually think of favor, blessings, and joy. But when our plate is too full we feel overwhelmed, stressed out, and possibly burnt out.
For this New Year, I’m choosing the cup.
My word for 2018 is lighter. Lighter mood, lighter stress, lighter finances, lighter stuff. To me, being lighter reminds me that I really do not have to carry so much. Less really can be more. I have a tendency to believe that if it needs to be picked up then by all means let me! If I am able, then I should - right? But sometimes, that stuff we carry on our plate weighs us down and is not necessary. It can begin to affect the other things that surround us, most notably, the things that are running out of our cup, our blessings, our purpose, our joy. For me, it results in a distracted, stressed out, spread thin, and frazzled version of myself. It's not pretty. At all. Just ask those humans that must live with me.
We all feel the same day to day stress I am sure. We are all human. However, my unraveling typically is all my fault and begins to feel more like a full blown implosion than just a bad day. My expectations become too high, my mind’s perfect ideal slowly becomes my desired reality, my hand raises to take on more. More, bigger, thinner, faster, prettier - I do this to myself.
I make myself heavy with the things I choose to carry.
So what do we do when we feel burdened, tired, and worn down? How do we decide what to carry and what to put down? How do we create a lifestyle, a mindset, a new standard- to be light, to be free, to be loved, and to let yourself off the hook from impossible expectations? Here are a few thoughts that I have tried to implement and slowly, surely, they seem to be working.
- Prioritize. Literally sit down and rank order the things that make up your life. As Hoda Kotb said on her first day as the new anchor on the Today Show, you must “order your loves, and if you do, the world just seems to work out.” OH HOW I LOVE THIS. Order your loves and let the rest fall where it may. Once you have your priorities in order, evaluate whether your time, energy, and attention is going to the right places. Reevaluate and possibly eliminate.
- Migrate your Goals. Learn the power and beauty of saying “not yet” instead of “no.” I had to learn the hard way that just because you can does not always mean you should. Focus on what’s good for you now, and push other goals for later. You will get there, I promise.
- Take Care of YOU. You know best what helps you unwind, reset, and settle in. Do those things that make you feel replenished and gives you clarity. I have learned that clarity keeps me from over-booking, over-striving, over-spending, you name it. As a mom of boys, I live in a house full of testosterone, ESPN, dry-fit, and ball caps. So I make it a point to treat myself to things that remind me that I matter too. (Really this is anything that doesn’t stink, anything you cannot throw, anything that does not say Nerf, or Lego, or X-Box. Those things.)
- Practice Self Discipline. My favorite quote of all time is "Self Discipline is choosing what you want most over what you want now." Let that sink in, and then weigh all your decisions against it. Ask yourself: is this helping or hurting what you want most? If it is hurting - LET IT GO. This can apply to exercise, eating, obligating yourself, taking that job, buying that house, and so on.
- Pray for the Right People and the Right Opportunities. Sometimes, we do not know what to pray for. We know that we need something-relief, guidance, change- we just don’t know exactly what that looks like. So, just pray for this. Ask God to send the right people and the right opportunities - for you, your spouse, your children - and faithfully watch it unfold. Some of my most defining moments have come as a result of these simple words.
At the end of the day - we are accountable for who we are in this world. We are moms, dads, bosses, teachers, friends, daughters, sons - we are the ones able to make decisions that dictate our pace, our activities, and our focus. We get a choice. Today, choose well. Choose best. Choose the cup. And let the rest slide off that plate.
Let’s be brave (and lighter),