This is the sixth article in the Editing Life series.
When I was young, I believed I could do everything. People told me I could do “anything” and I assumed that meant “everything”. Unfortunately, this has given me a “put more on my plate than I can eat” with respect to the things I want to do.
The truth is, I am not Wonder Woman. I am human. I have limited time and energy. And deciding to do everything right now takes a lot of energy and accomplishes little.
Editing Life Ambitions
When we’re talking about ambitions, I have to start with the ambitions placed by other people. A boy I went to grade school with was encouraged to be a priest. He wanted to be a truck driver because he wanted to be alone on the open road (he had 11 siblings). His parent’s ambition for him overruled and became his.
My parents also encouraged me to become something. Although in my case, they wanted me to do something “suitable” for a woman (i.e. the arts), rather than the study path I chose (engineering). Being the rebel I am, I chose my engineering degree path because of their attitude rather than because I had a true passion for it. Not surprisingly, I’ve never worked in my degree field.
My husband’s siblings and their spouses all hold master’s degrees in their fields. So does my husband. For a long time I felt like it was expected that I should get another degree too. But the truth is another degree would not get me anything in my career, and quite frankly, most academics have no idea how the field works in real life and I find dealing with them frustrating. I’m about solutions, not theory.
It took me several years to come to terms with these truths, but accepting them made me less tense about what I was doing and where I was going. Editing and discarding life ambitions can free up a lot of emotional energy.
Smaller Ambitions, or the Project List
Here’s the big problem for me.
To me, everything on my project and someday lists are things that I want to do. After all, if I didn’t want to do them, I wouldn’t write them down.
Unfortunately for me, I write a lot of them down. At this writing, my someday list has 435 items on it.
At one point, all 435 would have been on my active project list. I’ve mellowed somewhat, and I only put things on that I really intend to get to that week. Or at least that I think I should get moving on. (Current active project count: 15. Total amount I will actually work on: 5.)
Usually when I start feeling out of whack it is because that number on the active projects list has crept up. And I have to do a weed-out session, putting things back in the Someday list, or abandoning them altogether.
I also make a quarterly attempt to weed through the Someday list. The thought is that when I empty my active project list (HAH!) I will select new projects from the Someday list. It doesn’t usually work that way. But I keep trying.
I must be in a rebellious mood, because I am thinking is that maybe I should just go into the Someday list and delete them. Every last one of them. What a freeing feeling that would be!
I invite you to take a look at your ambitions, both life and projects. Are they really yours? Are you willing to commit to them, or have you taken more on than you can actually do?
Share your thoughts below.
Photo by junkDzine
Articles In the Series: