Thursday, June 28, 2012

Do What You Can

Today there is nothing specific on my calendar except a meeting tonight with a group of teens to finish some planning for a youth retreat that is happening next week. However, my to do list is very long and I'm running into that strange wall of feeling like I have so many things to get done that I can't think of them all, and worse, I'll never get everything done.  Thus, I'm slowing down instead of moving forward due to my nagging fear about failing to get anything right.

I've made out my list, but some of the things are not specific enough to be helpful,  so even getting the big, desired outcomes shaped into tasks becomes one of the things to do.

It's the process of breaking the elephant into bite-sized pieces and I'm impatient so I want to eat the elephant all at once even know I know I'll get sick. Wait a minute! Who wants to eat an elephant anyway? I get the purpose of that metaphor but sheesh, can I talk about eating a nice big pot of stroganoff or or a giant bowl of strawberries or something? No. Because I would get bored AND sick if I tried to eat that much of anything, be it elephant or otherwise. I have to work within my parameters. I have to see my tasks as even desirable and worthwhile, AND I have multiple projects going on at once, so I can't focus entirely on one pot of stroganoff. I have to rotate around to everything on my plate.

No matter how ungainly the metaphors get, I still have to break the big tasks into little tasks, then the list gets longer and longer and my heart rate goes up. I am going to review two pieces of advice that may help.

The first is to eat a frog every day. Doesn't that sound waaayyy better than an elephant? Ha. It actually comes from a quote attributed to Mark Twain which notes that if you eat a frog every morning, what could possibly be worse that that? So, get your frog out of the way first, then everything else will be easy. Hmm. I get that. I do get stuck on things I dread, and they are usually the mundane, routine kinds of things. Today my frog could be one of several things that I am seeing as complicated, time-consuming or as having a low level of satisfaction. Frogs are smaller than elephants, at least.

The second bit of advice I like is to remember that I can't do everything. I'm not qualified, nor do I have stewardship or control over everything. Some things I have to ignore and move away from thinking about.

Today I have on my mind lots of things over which I actually have no control. I need to rein in that thinking and move on to the things I can do. These may involve some risk-the risk of getting it wrong, the risks of paying the opportunity cost, etc, but at least I will be moving.

That's the key for me. I am ruled by inertia. If I get moving, I'll keep moving. If I get stuck, well, let's just not go there.


  1. So much exciting stuff coming up, friend. I know you ALWAYS are able to do the most important things. The rest is just going to have to be fine. I can't wait to see you for a few minutes next week before you head on your giant adventure :)

  2. I hope the conference was FABulous. I"m certain it was. I like the frog philosophy - I get hung up on hard things. Maybe I can start with eating a cockroach...??


Thank you for sharing your insights!