13 September, 2016

The Lie of Having it All

We’ve all heard it. The pervasive lie that sneaks in when we least expect it and makes us feel like we are failing. It’s the lie of perfection. It’s the lie that somehow we can do it all at 100%. We can be fully present at our jobs. We can be there for our kids. We can take care of the house, volunteer at church, still have a social life, and somehow none of these plates are going to fall.

It’s a lie. One that it starting to crack. People are starting to realize that it is impossible to “have it all.”

In order to say yes to something, you have to say no to something else.

Shonda Rhimes writes about the wonderfully in The Year of Yes. (She also writes incredibly well about how motherhood is not a job (it’s who you are) and that it’s okay to get help with your kids). Read it. Please.

But there is no “having it all” unless it includes rest, relationships and a new definition of “success.” The theme of taking a step back and reevaluating our lives, what we are committed to, and what we have let define us, is coming up all over the place. This is a message we desperately need to hear and digest!

Last year I read Alli Worthington’s Breaking Busy, Emily Freeman’s Simply Tuesday and Lara Casey’s Make it Happen in rapid succession (I’d highly recommend all of them). They all speak to this idea that while we are busier than ever, we feel like we are getting less done and losing what really matters in our quest to conquer the out of control to do list.

Okay, let me get this straight. Worthington writes. Women are sacrificing sleep, recreation, hobbies, friends and even family on the altar of busyness. So we aren’t sleeping, aren’t taking care of our bodies, and we aren’t doing things we enjoy with people we love. Then what in the world are we doing? (pg. 22 - emphasis added)
Worthington talks about capacity. She looks at her cell phone as an example. Your phone can only do so much at one time. It will only work for so long without a recharge. We tend to keep going on empty, to try to do more on limited reserves. It just doesn’t work.


A year after reading all of these books I am still on overload.

I am not “busy” per say. My planner is mostly work, writing and working out. I do not have children, am not committed to anything outside of my home. My life is relatively stress free. But that does not mean I am not outside my capacity or am not overloaded.

I tend to focus on too many things at one time. In my creative life I try to push too many projects forward. I get too many ideas of things to try (got to love Pinterest). I will want to excel at cooking, become the perfect Bible journaler, and run my own business. I join clubs on Facebook I have no intention of engaging with and have more newsletters coming to my inbox than I will ever read. My desk is cluttered with impulse buys, notebooks and print outs to read and digest.

All of this can stimulation leads to feeling overwhelmed. To me it is a sign that something is not sitting right in my core.

Too often we restrict our barometer of busy to our planner, but what about how much time we waste multi-tasking or on social media or procrastinating?


What if we took a step back and looked at our habits. Where are we over-indulging? Is it food, shopping, TV, buying more planning supplies or books (guilty!)? It is volunteering everywhere? Or over-booking our children’s schedules? Or, is it subtler – like never putting down our cell phone and constantly checking our feeds?

All of these are a form of escape. Avoidance is easier than admittance and without admittance we will never take action to correct what is wrong.

According to my planner my life is the last thing from busy. But internally – in my head, in my heart and with my emotions – I am so overloaded it leaves me feeling empty, not creative and tired.

At the heart of all of this is learning to say NO!

Learning to say no when it comes to:
  • what we are committed to.
  • what and who we let define us.
  • whose voice we listen to.
  • believing the lie that we have to do it all.
  • making our lives appear like what we see on Pinterest.
  • this idea that we are our kids’ social activities director, when really I think kids today need engaged parents who eat dinner with them and ask them about their day.
  • the guilt and shame that is heaped on us by the very distractions we use to numb.

Rhimes’ book is about empowering herself to stop being the shy girl in the corner and move out into the world (seriously, read it now!). But maybe someone can write a book about stepping into the shadows and realizing that saying NO is the best thing most of us can do.

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© Amanda Lunday