You Don’t Have To Do it All: A Letter To Myself

You Don't Have to Do it All: A Letter to MyselfThe irony of this post is that I’m writing it at midnight of the night it’s due because once again I’m stretched thin from a ton of projects we’ve got going on. So yeah this post is mainly to myself and anyone who can relate. A little reminder that we really don’t have to do it all. Good timing since I’m also crunched for time on finishing a work book club book titled Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. As I’m listening (audiobook) to the advice in the book about pursuing less in the pursuit of the best, it’s resonating mostly with my personal life (this isn’t a book review, but I do recommend it if you’re into self-help books). 

Essentialism sounds so simple, but in today’s day and age, it’s actually really tough.

We have access to way more opportunities than previous generations could have possibly dreamed. Here’s an example I just dug into related to books. Did you know that Amazon has over 32.8 million published titles available? 32.8 million?! Even avid book readers can’t begin to put a small dent into that amount of books over their lifetime. 
And then there’s social media. Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest put millions of ideas at your fingertips at any hour of the day. In a matter of minutes, I can gather a dozen new project ideas for our homestead, a list of things I should be making from scratch, five summer camps I should sign my kids up for, a few new curricula/subjects to teach my kids, one hundred read aloud books I should read with my kids along with a handful of motherhood books to read myself, thirty trendy videos I should make for the algorithm, a long list of podcasts I should have constantly playing in the background, and ten side hustles with which I should fill any moment of my spare time.

Hustle culture is in our faces and with the limitless possibilities, it can be really hard to say no.

I am definitely guilty of saying yes to just about every opportunity that presents itself. If I can fit it in, why not, especially if it’s a good thing (like baking your own sourdough bread)?
Well, a wise local woman I follow on Instagram (@holygroundhomestead) has been repeating a concept that’s been laid on her heart and it’s making an imprint on mine. She says, “Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should do it.” And boy do I need to remind myself of that daily. Because I can do just about anything I set my mind to. But should I? Here’s your permission to step out of the rat race of doing everything.
The book I’m reading talks about prioritizing the best things and eliminating the rest. Even if it’s good or even if it’s great, it’s not the best and it’s taking up space, money, or time from the best. Quality over quantity. 
You know the Mary Oliver quote, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Do you really think you want to answer it with, “I dabbled in a little of everything?” Or do you want to fill it with memories accumulated with the ones you love and time devoted to a passion or calling specific to you? I would venture to guess the latter. 
Another irony is that I preach this and make this a priority for my kids. Slow childhood. No rat race of activities. Lots of uninterrupted free play outside. And yet, I’m over here trying to run three side hustles and start a giant garden I’m not prepared to maintain. 

So that’s what I’ve been working on: eliminating things that are good, but not the best.

Honestly, a lot has been by default since my fourth was born and since we moved to a 4.5 acre property that itself can be a big time suck (i.e. lots of yard work). I’ve really slowed down on social media, I sold my newborn photography props, and I stopped going to every used book sale to get more books just because they were a steal. I made a list of what is simple and working in our homeschool, got rid of the rest, and put my blinders on to the plethora of other options. I shortened the homestead project list, choosing to block out projects for future years.
It’s definitely still a work in progress and I hope to be more intentional about it going forward. Hence this pep talk to myself. 
If this resonates with you, a good place to start (and where I plan to go from here) is putting on paper what the best is in your life or some high standards of criteria for why you and your family would pursue something or put your time and effort into it. A personal or family mission statement of sorts. Set the bar high and if the opportunity you’re looking at doesn’t make it, then in the words of Elsa, “Let it go.”

Remember that you’re pursuing less to focus on the best. 


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