I have heard this phrase several times in my life. Most recently, in the past week or two. It did not really register with me until recently though.
What does this phrase really mean? How you handle the day-to-day challenges, situations, and tasks is how you handle everything in your life. It is your character or your nature and how you deal with “everything”, whether it is big or small.
It hit me as I was at a conference in Chicago. I read it in another blog (surprise surprise) and realized I do not always put forward my best work, my results tend to be mediocre, and I give up on many projects that I start. What dawned on me is that I try to do too much and I end up rushing everything.
I pondered this phrase over the course of a few days:
- Why is the quality of my work not always outstanding? Because I take on too much at one time and am always rushing.
- Why have I not been able to get the best results/outcomes from my passion projects? Because I try to do too many at one time and end up not having enough time for any of the projects.
- What occurred to me is that I am constantly trying to bite more off than I can chew, which causes me to hurry through tasks and deal with things in a quick manner. We only having 24 hours in a day and I am usually trying to stuff as much as I can into that period of time.
Wow. Truth bomb, right there. I am trying to do more than what I am capable of, in a short time period. This does not mean I do not put forth my best effort. It does mean that I don’t always have the time it takes to give to particular tasks or situations or ensure I’ve put the best quality into my work. I’ve gotten in the habit of doing things to get them checked off my list.
This is not anyone’s fault but my own. Looking back, I realize that I have always handled things in this manner. I rushed to finish high school a year early. I rushed to finish my undergraduate program in 4 years, taking on 22 credit hours in my last semester while working full-time. I rushed to finish my graduate program in 2 years, while trying to do 2 internships at one time and working part-time. Time and time again, it goes to show that I am not taking the time to enjoy the process, ultimately just trying to achieve the end result and checking it off my list. Could I have finished high school on time and applied to more colleges? Yes. Could I have taken an extra semester in my undergrad program to do a minor and second concentration, possibly diversifying my education more so, leading to more job prospects and career opportunities? Yes. Could I have taken an extra year or two in grad school to really figure out which direction I wanted my career to go in? Yes. I also could have taken more time to study and complete projects, getting better grades, ultimately boosting my GPAs. But I didn’t.
It is hard to look back and realize that I could have been more organized, cleaner, produced higher quality work, and received more experience if I had only taken the time and effort necessary. This doesn’t mean I can’t change things going forward.
How can I change the way I do things in my life? Here are five ways anyone can change in how they do “everything” in their life. These are the steps I am going through currently and may not work for everyone, but take what you want and add a few more if you’d like!
1) Time: Take the time to figure out your mantra or motto or how you want to live your life. Figure out what it is and how you want to define your life. I want to live less rushed, taking my time to complete my passion projects (one at a time) and tasks, knowing I have done a fantastic job, I have not missed anything, and have paid attention to the details.
2) Re-evaluate: Re-evaluate your goals (personal and career, long-term and short-term), make sure they match with what you want in your life, and put them on a realistic timeline. I am cutting down my goals from the long list that I had last year to a more concise list that truly encompasses what I want in my life. I will cut out the goals that do not add value to my life and that are not in line with how I want my life to be (the “fluff” goals, as I like to call them).
3) Prioritize everything: Stop doing things that are not necessarily important to you. Start saying no when you do not have the time or necessarily want to take on the task. Instead of saying, “I don’t have time for XYZ” start saying, “XYZ is not a priority” in order to help differentiate between things that are important to you and things that are not necessarily a priority. For me, this is huge. I have trouble saying no to people, especially when I know it is going to help them out in the long run. I love helping people. But at what point should I stop compromising my personal well-being for others?
4) Plan: Use your phone calendar and/or day planner (yes, I use both) to plan things out in advance to ensure you have enough time to complete tasks and projects. I set deadlines on just about everything and put it in my day planner, on my calendar, and in my task manager. It helps me remember because I see it everywhere and cannot forget.
5) Re-evaluate more: Re-evaluate on a regular basis to make sure you stay on track, keep focused, stick to your timeline, meet my deadlines, and enjoy the process along the way. I will keep checking in with myself on a monthly basis. I easily get distracted, so hopefully this will help me really start to get on the path that I want to be on and live my life the way I want to, all while enjoying the process.
We only have this one life to live, we might as well enjoy it, do the things that are important to us, and do them well!