How do you make it all fit?

Sometimes I look back at all my years of racing, working full time, coaching/training and having a social life - and wonder to myself: How did I make it all fit?

Honestly, I’m not sure.  I can say I’m a Virgo; and some people will literally say, “well, that explains it.” But, I don’t necessarily attribute this ability to my sign (but maybe I should?). When looking at my experiences, I can say that I tend to be very efficient with my time and time management skills.  I’m a list generator; something I got from my dad.  

Those lists started early in life with the “A-R-M” lists on the refrigerator.  The letters stood for my siblings first names… Andy, Ray, and Melis.  The list rotated each week and had everything from doing dishes, weeding the yard, taking out the trash… you get the point.  I think I recall the first list when I was about five years old, needing a step stool to do the dishes.

Lists.  Is that the trick?  I don’t know - but those lists have stayed with me and have definitely helped along the way.  I make lists at work and at home; projects I want to complete and of adventures to take.  Right now I have a wall of post-its with sayings, quotes, inspirational messages - all geared to the development of the water workshops, another book, branding, marketing, and more.  But, how do you make it all fit even if you have lists?

This question came up recently by two different individuals, both struggling with the idea of possibly having so much to do that they became overwhelmed by it all. When we are pulled in so many directions that even with lists we become confused and unsuccessful, it is time to take a step back.  I find that the reprioritizing in life is sometimes the key that may be missing - even from list generators.  

I listened to a great motivational speaker, Darren Hardy (and his Darren Daily messages), and he brought up several great bits of advice recently: prioritizing your life and learning to say “No.”

Prioritizing causes you to re-think your true wants and desires. These are YOUR desires, not your spouse, your friends, or what is the latest trend.  Following what you know is right for yourself isn’t always easy, and may not alight with family.  This doesn’t mean you embrace the selfish-bus and say ‘screw it’ to everything else - let’s not go that far.  However, it does mean letting go of the things that really are not a priority.  You may enjoy them, but they may not be best use of your time.  But, possibly avoiding this situation is your first step: learning to use the word “no.”

As Darren says, saying yes is an easy way out. Think about it...agreeing to do something even when your gut is screaming “you don’t have time for that” is so much easier than pushing the words “no” to your lips. Saying yes when you are over-committed creates panic and increased stress, and a frustrated level of re-shuffling to make it fit. And how you make it fit typically means you start sacrificing; only giving 70-80% (or less) to everything, rather than your true desired 100%. Something will suffer.

The hardest word to use in life is saying "no" to something.

So, when I think back to how I made it all fit, and how I am doing this now (I work full time, teach/coach several hours a week, have a home-based business, workout/train for a few events a year, keep up a house and garden & have time for my guy), I was/am constantly re-shuffling my priorities. The garden isn’t as epic as I want it to be and even though  I want to train for another 100 miler and an ironman, right now, even these coveted events will need to take a back burner. I am happy with shorter and fewer events (until life and time permits the beloved longer ones) as saying “no” has been my saving grace which has allowed me to breath easier, give 100%, and still sleep 7-8 hours every night.