Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Next Best Thing

I was thinking today, when I attempted to tackle some yard work with a 2 year old and a 3 year old in tow, that we don't always get to do exactly what we want to do. I can have a bunch of energy, and set out to pull every weed in the lawn, cut the lawn, trim every bush, sweep the patio, etc., etc., and I will pretty much always fall short.

You know that sick overwhelming feeling that comes when you see the weeds choking out the garden, and the patio covered in pine needles?  It's a tough one to overcome.  "I can't do this." "It's too much." "May as well just not start."

Then, at the end of the day, we ask ourselves, "have I done enough?" @tina_zita covers this question in her blog post, "June Comes the Same Time Every Year."  Doubt tends to creep in, and negativity. 

Teachers know this: we sometimes come in to work with to-do lists as long as our arms, a set of "must be dones", that don't get done.  Parents know this-dinner to cook, laundry to do, kids to put to bed.  Baseball players should know this, but they often swing for the fences when a base hit would do. 

There can be kind of an analysis paralysis associated with trying to get things done.  Too many things to do, too little time, nothing gets done.  But those who say just getting started is the biggest thing are probably right.  

I'm no expert with lifehacks for all situations, but today, I asked myself, "if you can't do everything you want to do, what's the next best thing?"

Cutting the lawn and pulling all the weeds became cutting the lawn close so the weeds didn't show.
Whacking the weeds down in the garden as much as I could took the place of weeding the whole garden. 
The patio got swept, but there is still a bit of loose debris. 

So try this thought exercise the next time you feel overwhelmed.  Take your perfect world set of goals for each day.  We are humans, and we dream big, so some of them may be a bit out of reach. For each one, figure out what the next best thing is, that you can live with.  

Mark 2 sets of essays instead of three.  Finish 3 items on your to-do list instead of 5, but do them really well.  Adjust your expectations, and be careful of your perfectionism.  

The lawn looks fine.  There's still weeds, but it's done. (For now...)

CC image by katerha.

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