Given that we have a limited amount of resources; attention, energy and time, how we divide our resources greatly affects the success of our desired outcome. The more focused we are at any one thing, the more energy gets concentrated into that thing.
Attention can be compared to the sharpness of a knife. A knife is sharp because energy has been focused at the blade. Thus, the more focused the energy is at the blade, the sharper the knife, the higher the cutting power, and the stronger the knife. If energy is not focused at the blade, we end up with a dull knife, with lowered cutting power – weaker knife. A dull knife may be good for spreading butter, but if your goal was to cut through soda cans, you have missed your desired outcome.
When we try to do too much, it is as if we are trying to sharpen too many knifes in our limited time. We juggle between the sharpening of the different knifes, and in the end, not one knife is sharpened enough to be deemed useful. We can be much more effective if we spend our time and focused energy sharpening one knife, and move on to another knife only when the first one has reached its desired outcome.
One example of doing too much is having many goals that we are trying to achieve in the same short period of time. The term many is subjective, and we have individual thresholds for what that means for each of us. There are exceptions to this, and there are people who are exceptional at multi-tasking. I happen to know that I am not one of those people.
If you are like me, then perhaps you can relate to the feeling of doing too much, and how that tension can take us away from what matters to us most. Here are some potential effects that can arise from doing too much. Becoming aware of these is the first step towards adjusting our life situation and priorities towards a more balanced lifestyle.
• Mental Noise – Constantly thinking about the things still left to do can clutter our inner space. They become mental noise and are very distracting.
• Unable to Focus – When we are distracted by too many things, we feel overwhelmed, our focus becomes diffused, and things appear ‘foggy’ from our perspective. In this state, it’s tough to focus on our current tasks, think clearly or make fast & rational decisions.
• No Personal Life – We can become consumed by all the external achievements we are trying to obtain for the prized title of success. In so doing, we can forget to experience Joy. We forget to look after ourselves, our health, and our personal life. We become unbalanced.
• Exhaustion – When our energies are not properly managed, we feel exhausted and dis-eased in our bodies. This can physically manifest in different ways. For me, exhaustion translates to lower back pain, sleeplessness and dehydration.
• Self-Inflicted Guilt – When we become too ambitious, we tend to underestimate how long things will take and this will result in an overloaded plate. We commit ourselves to this overloaded plate, and set ourselves up for failure, unconsciously. When we realized that we haven’t done everything we’ve set out to do, we become subject to the guilt inflicted by our own minds. This can be destructive to our motivation and self-esteem.
• Hurt Relationships – When our attention is fully occupied with too many targets, we don’t have room for other important life areas, such as developing and maintaining relationships with people.
• Unsatisfied – When we have too much on our plate, we are constantly chasing after the things we haven’t done yet and forget to celebrate what we’ve accomplished. Our attention is spread out so thin, that we cannot really excel at achieving any of our goals. We become dissatisfied. Similar to self-inflicted guilt, this feeling is not conducive to healthy self-esteem.
• Failed Partnerships - When we over commit ourselves to more than we will have time and energy to do, we end up sacrificing certain goals. If we have goals with other people, such as partnerships in a startup business, we may end up disappointing them. They may end up concluding that you’re an unreliable and flaky person. At the extreme, friendships may be hurt as a result of failed business relationships. I’ve personally been on both ends of such a scenario, and I would advise anyone to try to avoid this.
by Tina Sue of Think Simple Now
What goals are you working on right now?
What do you get stressed over?
Did I forget to mention something?
Jon Mercer has an excellent stress coaching video series called EasyCalm and you can watch the first video here. Lots of great tips and no optin.