How do you manage your life when you’ve already whittled it down to just your top priorities and it’s still too much? Feeling like every day is another day of playing catch-up or worse, falling even further behind – it’s not a great feeling. Okay… reality. It’s a terrible feeling.
As my illness really set in, I quickly realized that I had too much on my plate. So, I removed the easy-to-eliminate extras in my life. However, I found I was still overloaded with outings that were causing crashes, daily activities that were too much to keep up with, and relationships that were a struggle to maintain.
So, I learned to say no more often (this is still hard for me!), I further reduced my outings, and I asked my caregivers for help (this too was hard for me. I’ve always been a helper, not a “helpee.”) with some of my daily activities. However, I found I was still playing catch-up. I was still feeling miserable because I wasn’t feeling productive, only disappointment in myself and what I wasn’t able to accomplish.
So back to the drawing board to re-evaluate what was left on my plate. But this is where it got hard. Because I have already skimmed off so much, what was left was what I considered my top priorities. Things that either kept me afloat financially, created a back-up plan for me when things changed, were dedicated to creating awareness and support for my illness, and the relationships in my life. So, what do I have left to cut?
I’ve really been feeling stuck in this place for quite a while… and it’s not a pretty place to be in. I still have a few days where I get the “high” of feeling like I was productive and made some progress, but there’s still too many days where I cannot contribute to my key priorities as much as I want to. This disappoints me and I feel, at times, I am disappointing others. And I am chipping away at the reputation and strong work ethic I spent decades creating. And that is quite humbling.
So, I’ve stepped back. I’m still a little unsure about whether I need to re-evaluate my key priorities. But I’ve decided to take a different tactic this time since I’ve already eliminated so much. I’ve decided it’s time to simply look at my key priorities and determine how I can still contribute to them, but perhaps in a new way. In a way that adds value but also doesn’t disappoint or overload me. I’m just starting this process so I don’t know how it’s going to turn out, but I’m going in with great hope!
Just in writing this I’m feeling a bit better as I’ve realized that I’ve prioritized my life perhaps in a way I should have all along. I’ve learned to say no – there was a huge learning curve for me with this. I’ve also learned to ask for help – even a bigger learning curve for me. And as I review my process, I feel like it’s pretty solid. So, while I have ways to go with solving my problem, I’ve realized that all along I’ve been creating successes and growing as a person. And that’s productivity in action!
So, I guess my lesson is that we really need to cut ourselves some slack. The reality is that we are doing more than we think we are. It may not be with the concrete goals or projects that we’ve set for ourselves, but better yet, as people we are growing and figuring out how to solve advanced problems that affects us as a whole. These are the kind of skills that will serve us well our entire life, not just the duration of today’s task.