I recently read a quote on Instagram that really resonated with me. It read: “You can do anything, but not everything.”
I looked it up and its attributed to David Allen, a productivity consultant and creator of the time management method ‘Getting Things Done’. There’s not really any need to go into the background (though it’s worthwhile if you’re into time saving and efficiency techniques) but these seven little words have made an enormous difference to the daily pressure I find myself under. That is, to be successful in every aspect of life, a pressure that comes from myself, from society and from social media, and I think most of us – especially women – feel that pressure every single day.
The moment I read the quote I felt like, suddenly, I had a totally new perspective on life. Like most women, I am forever trying to have it all – to be a good wife and mother and daughter, to see my friends and take interest in their lives, to be valued and respected in my communications job, to better my blog and freelance writing and social media output, to have a clean, tidy and stylish home, to keep fit and healthy and spend time with my dog who is so badly forgotten (only by me) at times. And these are just the primary ‘goals’, never mind the daily chores that get in the way of developing ‘life strategies’. To see those words written in front of me allowed me to let some of that pressure go. I understood that yes, I can do anything I want to (my mum always did tell me you can do anything you set your mind to) but the reality is that we can’t have everything. Especially not all at once.
I’m regularly asked by people – again, mostly women – how I manage to ‘fit it all in’. I’m quite honest when I say that I use lunch breaks at the day job and some evenings to post blogs and write my weekly columns, that I tidy up and clean in the evenings or the weekend, that I meet my best friends once a month for coffee, just to make sure we actually see each other face-to-face sometimes instead of on WhatsApp. But I also really need that downtime, that ‘me’ time that is oh-so precious, and since having IVF this has been a priority for me. Downtime and running keep my mental health in check.
It’s about finding a balance that works but, like many of you, I’m guilty of over-committing myself and trying too hard to make everything work and pleasing other people. And, ironically, by juggling all of my balls in the air I inevitably drop one or two, which leaves me feeling like a failure in every respect. So trying to have everything is actually a lose-lose situation.
To be reminded while scrolling Instagram (the very place that adds so much pressure to life) felt incredibly liberating. I felt as though the penny had finally dropped, that I could finally relieve myself of that incredible sense of duty to keep powering on and focus on the priorities at that moment in time. Right now, that’s my family and my home, and this is heightened at the end of the week as I head into the weekend and can finally see gaps in the schedule to enjoy time with family and friends.
However, Mondays mean that there’s more time to think about work. That means putting on my ‘let’s do this’ hat (or glasses – these ones by IOLLA make me appear professional even if I don’t entirely feel it), sucking it up, and focusing on what the new week has to throw at me.
Right now, these are the only two areas of life that really need my full attention. So the house ticks over, the fitness has succumbed to the pregnancy, the blog remains more of a hobby than it does an income, and travel will soon become a distant memory for a time. But that’s okay because the priorities will change again and life will allow more time for other things. Whether its family, career, fitness, fashion or travel, life is a rollercoaster of events that take us up and down, round and round, until eventually we stop.
It’s important to remember to enjoy the ride because, at the end of it, aside from living and loving, none of it really matters.
I’m wearing: glasses, Bruce by IOLLA (gifted).
Images: Kris Miller.
Location: The Glass Pavilion, Broughty Ferry, Dundee.
“You can do anything, but not everything.” – quote by David Allen, productivity consultant and creator of the time management method ‘Getting Things Done’.