The Mantra That Keeps Me From Completely Overwhelming Myself

Get hopping, birdie! Tons to do, and so little time.
Get hopping, birdie! Tons to do, and so little time.

I’m in my usual New Year whirl. The beginning of the year always gets me energized and excited as I review what I’ve done and make plans for what I will do. This week, I’ve been zooming around like a hummingbird, zipping from writing to working in my studio to critical chores, like cooking, back to writing, trying to cram everything in.

The disturbing part is that, even though I am already busy, I keep thinking of more to do. As I’ve been setting goals and figuring out my writing schedule, I’ve also been jotting down additional things I want to get done.

My browser bookmarks need to be cleaned up and re-organized. I want to update my “books to read” list and prioritize them so I get to the stuff I’m really interested some time soon. Some of my old blog photos would make great Pinterest boards. I need to sit down with my new planner and get all the important stuff, like birthdays and anniversaries, recorded. And there’s a year-in-review worksheet for writers that I’ve downloaded but haven’t used yet.

The problem? My days are already packed tight. I still haven’t dealt with the pile of mail that built up while I was away over the holidays, the kitchen is a disaster, and I just had a vision this morning of our currently messy office re-arranged and tidy that will probably take a day or more to implement.

As my crazy Inner Planner goes to town, the rest of me is wild-eyed, looking around for an exit, a mustang ready to bolt. Too much to do and yet I do want to do it all!

Something I read years ago has been a great touchstone for me whenever I get like this.

You can have anything you want, but you can’t have everything you want.

This quote comes from the motivational book Do It! Let’s Get Off Our Buts by John-Roger and Peter McWilliams. They point out that while no dream is too big, you can never have all the things you want. To have it all, you would need an infinite amount of time, energy, and resources, and that’s not going to happen.

The bad news is that I must choose. I can make the list as long as I want, but I will never get to all of it. Discipline is a matter of remembering what you want and then following through, and I have to apply this thinking to my endless to-do list.

The good news is that I get to choose. With determination and luck, I can live the life I want, and become anything I want to be. All I have to do is focus on the things that will help me achieve my dream, while giving up at least some of the ideas I have in the process.

Do you get overwhelmed by all the things that you want to do? How do you deal with a to-do list that grows even as you are crossing things off?

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