Are You Piling Your Plate Too High: Re-assessing Your Priorities and Obligations

As I write this, it's Halloween, the last of three harvests in the fall season. Here in the northern hemisphere, the leaves are turning, the rains are falling, and my students are stressed out over midterms. Fall is definitely here.

Halloween, Samhain, marks the halfway point between the fall equinox and the first day of winter. It also means that we have only two months left in 2016. Now is the perfect time to take stock of what's going on in your life – to not only harvest or reap the seeds you sowed earlier in the year, but to also reevaluate what you've got on your plate and what might be time to fall off.

In The Nourished Temple, we are examining how to take better care of ourselves and nourish our sacred body temples. But part of that is also re-examining what's working and what's not working for you, what's filling your cup versus what's draining or depleting you.

As women, so often I think we do this to ourselves. We take on too much – too many obligations; too many problems that aren’t our own, yet we’ve somehow taken ownership of. And we suffer for it. Because we can't say no, because we don't want to let people down, because what will people think if we don't do it all? If this sounds like you, I encourage you to take off the Superwoman cape and take back your health. Take back your power. Take back your sovereignty. Take back your life.

The world will not fall apart if you say no or let go of some of your current obligations. I know it seems like it's difficult, but you can't give from an empty cup. I know this far too well. So many times in my life I’ve put myself last, I've served from my reserves, until I had none left. I'm not asking you to quit your job, foist your kids off on someone else, or get rid of all of your roles and responsibilities in one fell swoop. What I'm encouraging you to do is to take a long hard look at what you want. Are you there? If not,

To get you started, I'm going to ask you to dream for a moment.

  • In all areas of your life – career, health, education, family, relationships, spirituality, hobbies, etc. – where do you want to be in five years? What do you want your life to look like?
  • Ask yourself the same question, this time substituting three years – where do you want to be in three years? Let's do it again: where do you want to be one year from now? What will you be do-ing with your time?
  • Now what will it take to get to each of these goals?

Start mapping out your life – where you want to be in one, three, and five years and then fill in the blanks as you figure out what it would take to get you there. For each of your “big goals,” set mini goals for six months, three months, and one month for each of those areas of your life. It may take a little time to do this exercise (I’d allow half an hour), but once you get some clarity on what you want, it’s easier to assess how your current roles and responsibilities fit (or don’t fit) into that picture.

Once you’ve gotten clarity on what you need to let go of (what needs to fall off your plate), go through the same process with your roles and obligations that no longer serve. Assess where you want to be in one, three, and five years; then, set benchmarks for one, three, and six months to get those responsibilities shifted. If you’re feeling trapped by some of these goals and don’t see a way for them to completely fall off, is there a way you can change them in some way to help take some of the load off of your plate (e.g., can you ask for help or ask someone to take over part of the role/responsibility)? Finally, mark your calendars with your smaller benchmark goals and set aside some time at the beginning of each month to reflect on where you are, where you’re going, and whether or not anything needs to shift on your current plan to get you there.

Happy Fall!

One Comment

  • Virginia Reeves says:

    For me, looking out even 3 to 5 years doesn’t work as well as starting much smaller. Others may like looking at 90 days and 6 months. Seeing something up close can sometimes make it more real and likely to make it happen. You mention that with implementing smaller benchmark goals. At 65, I’m not sure where I’ll be down the road – that’s why it’s less pressing for me to drop things I don’t like as much – already done a lot of it !!

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