A Broken Schedule)
Yesterday I addressed that we might not have the capacity to do all of our daily tasks, but we might be able to use some techniques to get through them anyway, such as shifting some to an every-other-day cadence, or quickly knocking out high-effort tasks that then become low-effort maintenance.
I acknowledged, though, that even this may not be sufficient for everyone. It is possible to simply not have the resources to do all the things that we need to maintain balance, no matter what strategy we employ. An example of this would be if one didn’t have enough income to pay off even the interest on their debt. Or perhaps if one suffered an injury that prohibited exercise. Or of one’s need for education and a regular day-job were mutually exclusive.
In situations like these, more drastic strategies are required. But as a prerequisite to any of these strategies, we first have to accept that we aren’t going to be able to do all the things that we want to do. Any solution at this point is going to require sacrifice and a change of expectations. Coming to terms with this disappointment is painful but necessary if we are ever to make the most of a hard situation.
Once we have made this peace, then here are two options to consider.
Ask For Help)
I am certainly one that wants to take care of everything myself. I want to prove that I have the strength and wherewithal to take care of everything on my own. Part of me feels that I would rather live a broken life by my own power than a fuller life by the power of others. But that part of me is simply pride, and now that I’ve tried both options I can tell you definitively which one is better,
For years I remained entrenched in my addiction because I insisted on taking care of it on my own. But the more I tried to handle it on my own, the more it became apparent that I simply couldn’t. My deficit wasn’t time or money, it was spiritual strength, and I had to finally accept that I didn’t have the wherewithal on my own and that I needed to reach outward for help.
I finally did so, and I have leaned on the strength of dozens of people since. My therapists, my group members, brothers in recovery that I’ve met along the way. I have an entire village of supporters who help me to do what I couldn’t by myself, who help make up for my spiritual strength deficit and then some.
The principle is the same if you’re talking about financial shortcomings, or scheduling conflicts, or simply not having enough time to do everything. If you really can’t do it by yourself, then can you swallow your pride and surrender some part of this plan to the care of another person? We are born into families and raised in communities for a reason. The resources are almost certainly there if we’re willing to just look outside of ourselves.
Make the Hard Cuts)
I have an entrepreneurial and hobbyist mindset. I always have a number of projects and developments that I want to work on, both so that I can learn new things and also create new sources of income. These endeavors seem justified by the fact that success in these areas would make me a more skilled individual and bring greater stability to my life. So I prioritize working on these projects, even trying to progress several of them at a time.
Of course, things of substance never come quickly or easily. The cost of doing this work gets higher and higher, other untested fields start to look more promising, I try dividing my focus into even more areas, and even my basic self-care starts to evaporate as I pour more and more time and effort into all these ventures.
Many times I have had to give myself a sharp reality check. I realize that optional projects have become obligations, hobbies have become jobs, and ambition has become obsession. At this point, letting these projects go feels like cutting out some of the essential parts of my life, but really they’re not. At some point I have to decide what genuinely is essential and what only feels like it is.
Obviously this is a problem of my own making. More difficult to deal with are the demands that have been put on us by duty and necessity. The principle remains the same, though. If you really can’t maintain everything that you want to, and you can’t get enough external help to make things manageable, then sooner or later you have to accept that some things need to go.
Maybe you really just don’t have the capacity for a relationship right now. Maybe you really do have to declare bankruptcy. Maybe you can’t maintain every friendship. Maybe having a clean house just isn’t in the cards for today. Maybe you just won’t be in shape to run the marathon this year.
None of these are happy sacrifices to make, but at least we can have the dignity of letting them go ourselves, rather than watching them shrivel from neglect. It’s better to throw the food you won’t get around to eating away than to let it grow moldy on the shelf. Better to stop making half-measures that accomplish nothing and preserve our strength for full-measures on what we can actually accomplish.
Strategic management, asking for help, and making sacrifices, it certainly seems that everything would be nicer if we didn’t have to do any of these things, but these are the realities of life. All of us will need to take all of these steps many times through the years. Sooner or later we can have to make our peace with imperfection and make the most that we can of it.
If we do make our peace and move forward, we still may not accomplish everything we wanted in the way that we wanted, but I do believe we will all accomplish more than enough. Life can still be whole, even when it’s parts are broken.