Trying everything all at once achieves nothing
When I was a kid (and I was unknowingly living the glory days of not having to stress over college) I used to play this game. I called it “Don’t Let the Balloon Touch the Floor.” It’s a simple game: you launch the balloon up in the air and not let it touch the floor. And I enjoyed it. I felt like one of those superheroes when they do that agility trickery-do. I felt like I could do anything.
Now, imagine what would happen if there were more than one balloon you have to keep from touching the floor. Imagine twelve balloons. Suddenly it’s not so enjoyable now, is it? It will become tiring. You’d have to be in different places and look at all twelve balloons at once. Before long, you’d be out of breath and frantic. You’d be overwhelmed.
That’s also what happens when you try to work on everything – and I mean every minute detail – in your life at the same time.
I find that high-achievers and perfectionists such as myself struggle with this. Not only do I try to juggle college and blogging and my art and the occasional freelancing I get. I want to do all of them at the same time – and do it per-fect-ly. I want to keep all these balloons from touching the floor because they are all important. They all hold significant places in my life. It just feels wrong to choose one from the other when I could do everything I can to keep all of them afloat, right? Right???
Wrong, Kate. W R O N G.
Look, I love Shakira and I love Zootopia and Judy but I don’t think this is what they meant by “trying everything”. And okay, there’s nothing wrong with trying to find that delicious middle ground where you manage to balance everything. Work-life balance is, like, every twenty-something’s dream. Being a Master Multitasker just feels like the Productivity Holy Grail.
But to perfectly manage every aspect in your life perfectly?? It’s just damn near impossible.
Here’s the difficult pill to swallow:
If you want to exercise more regularly, but also eat more nutritiously, and meditate, and be more productive and write more words a day and also, like, want to master crocheting all-at-freaking-once, can you possibly dream of achieving any one of those things?
(In case you’re curious, yes, that pill is still stuck in my throat.)
Surprisingly, there are people who could. But the vast majority of the world can’t. I can’t. A lot of the people I know can’t. And if you’re one of us and you’re agonizing over this, I want you to know there is absolutely nothing wrong you!
This simply means that you are human (not saying that those who can master multitask aren’t) and you have limitations. You can only do so much at a time. Some things, like self-improvement, are simply not something you can multitask. Trying to improve every aspect of your life all at once will leave you exhausted. Like trying to keep twelve balloons afloat.
Sure, maybe all of the things you have to improve are important. But you don’t have to accomplish them altogether. You can take on one thing and focus on only that one thing.
Instead of balloons, imagine you’re making pottery.
You have one lump of clay on top of the pottery wheel. You work your damn best and do your frakkin-hardest to turn that lump into a work of art. And when you’re done (and it will be a work of art, because I believe in your awesomeness) you move on to work on the next lump. Then the next lump. Then the next. Focus on one thing at a time. Until you’ve accomplished all the lumps you had to work on. Until all of them are works of art.
And look! You didn’t have to juggle everything all at once! Yay you!
Do you also struggle with wanting to self-improve on #AllTheThings? Would you rather multitask on personal goals or try one thing at a time? Share your thoughts below!
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Photo from Ivory Mix
I agree with everything you’ve just but I always find that putting it into practice is where I come short. I think that it’s down to my own impatience and seemingly if I will myself hard enough then it’ll eventually come to fruition but obviously that’s not true! I definitely need to work better at focusing on one thing at a time rather than starting everything then giving up straight away.
I get what you mean! I’m pretty much an overachiever and the will myself hard enough is such a great thing to point out because yes! It isn’t true at all. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!
I’m very much an overachiever and could really use a post like this! Thanks for sharing it <3 I've definitely been learning to focus more on one or two things instead of trying to get better at EVERYTHING! But sometimes it's a little hard haha, especially in this day and age where you can see so many people online trying new things, getting really good at things etc. But I'm learning ^_^
So true! It’s really hard especially when you see how everyone is doing and you feel like you’re being “left behind.” But yay for progress! Hopefully you’ll be able to focus on one or two things at time more 🙂
First, I LOVE Zootopia! (Such a great movie.)
I do have the tendency to want to master this thing… and that one… and this new technique. But my problem is that I have so many projects or new hobby ideas that I don’t choose any of them! I have to remind myself I need to at least choose something, focus on it and make that my priority. Otherwise I’ll choose nothing and end up a couch potato, ha! Thanks for sharing!
I totally get what you mean! Sometimes, when you’re overwhelmed with the many projects you need to do, you just want to not choose any and leave it for another day. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts too!
So true! I feel like young adults especially get pressured to accomplish lots of things in our 20s. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
What a great read! I usually rush through posts, but I enjoyed reading every word! You have such a fun perspective! I LOVED the pottery example. I’m always saying start slow and build a quality habit. And then you can go faster once the foundation is good 🙂
Thank you so much! That really means a lot 🙂 And that’s a brilliant advice! I’m putting that on my notebook 🙂 Thank you! <3
I love this! I notice that I do much better in months when I focus on a couple goals instead of many. I like to pair things that are different so that they require different things of me. I used to spread myself way too thin when I was younger. Good for you to realize this at a young age. Thanks for sharing
I love the idea of pairing things that are different! I think that’s brilliant, and I might try it myself. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas!
Did you climb into my brain, read my thoughts and decide to write this post for me?! I needed to read this, thank you! I have the sort of brain that comes up with ten new ideas a day and, like yourself, I want to master them all. Thank you for reminding that this isn’t possible, and that it’s OK.
Maybe I subconsciously did?? But seriously though, thank you so much. Comments like yours makes my day so much 🙂 I’m so happy that you found this helpful. And yes! You CAN master whatever you set your mind to — it just doesn’t have to be all at once 🙂 Thank you for your lovely words!
Omg that balloon analogy is perfect. I am notorious for living my life in the “Release ALL the balloons!” way by trying to accomplish way too many things at once. And it can be absolutely maddening! lol And you’re so right, I’m getting stuff done, but not as much as I wish I was with certain goals. This post definitely makes sense and makes me want to re-evaluate how I tackle goals. It’s practically hardwired in my brain to do all the things at once, but maybe I could at least lessen the load (and with it, a lot of the stress.) 🙂 Thanks as always for your insightful posts. <3 You have such an awesome and inspiring blog.
Oh gosh how did I ever deserve your lovely comments <3 <3 It really is maddening plus some! I have faith you'll achieve whatever goals you put your mind into, and you'll eventually get there 🙂 so yes, lightening the load will help lots! Thank YOU so much!
I am not trying everything at once, but I admit I’m not focusing on anything. I don’t know if I ever have.