Stop Striving for 100%

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Can we all just agree that maybe 2020 is not the year to give 100%? Hear me out.. 

Since childhood, I’ve heard that it’s best to give 100% (or more) effort to anything and everything I wanted to achieve. To win was better than coming in second place, even though the bible talks about the first must become the last; the leader must be the servant, etc.

But how is it possible to give 100% to each and every thing all at the same time? 

I remember at the age of 8, I was taking taekwondo, horse riding, and guitar lessons (interspersed with piano & cello lessons because I wanted to see if I could learn something new) all at the same time. I remember loving (and sometimes hating) each of these lessons. I was invested in each, I loved each of my instructors. Yet, at one point my mom said I should pick one or two to stick with. I think she knew then that if I didn’t make a choice, I would be just fine taking ALL the lessons. Well, fine and not really excelling in any one area. 

As an adult, here I am again, trying to do all the things and not really making great leaps and bounds in any one particular area. I hope my fellow enneagram fives can relate. I blame it on wanting to be in the know on as many fronts as possible. I want to be the expert. I want to be your go-to for the really important and the really random information.  

But here’s the deal. The more I take on, the more overwhelmed I get. The more I do, the less amount of effort, time, and myself I give to each thing. And that’s all they are really: things. And when I fill up my time with things, the less time I have for people, which matter more than the things. I can’t share the things with the people if I don’t have the people to share the things with. Do you follow? I mean, do I even follow?!

So, what if giving only 10% this year to something is still progress, because last year I wasted that 10% on Netflix. Maybe giving 25% to your health with the last few months of the year is okay because last year, you weren’t in a good mental place to even give 1%. Maybe all the tiny portions of effort we give this year are better than 100% because at least we’re not running on empty and we’ve already done so much this year that we wouldn’t have even thought about doing last year. 

This year has been um.. a funny year. 20/20 is the optometrist’s standard for perfect vision. It’s also used as a way to say what I know now versus what I knew then. 

Well, 2020, I’m learning that I can do everything, but I can’t do everything well.

Some things are going to be left behind. I won’t be the best wife, employee, daughter, sister, and friend all at the same time. My to-do list will stay a mile long and will continue to live in my planner, on my fridge, across sticky notes, and typed in my phone. My house will be clean some weeks and still contain areas that have yet to be unpacked from our last move. Every project will make me think of another project, which will leave one-third of the barstools I’m refinishing to remain half-sanded.

Regardless, my worth and who I am is not defined by my shortcomings. I’m not less than 100% because I choose to not give 100% to everything. And I {insert your name here} must choose to not beat myself up because I’m not who, where, or doing what I thought I should be. I’m doing the best I can right now and it’s okay it doesn’t look like someone else’s best.

What I wish I could tell the next generation is that 2020 was the year when we all realized that striving for the next and better wasn’t always better. The slowest and quietest moments of that year were the most special and exactly what we craved even though we didn’t know it until those moments were forced upon us. And you know what, we didn’t give 100% to be the best at everything, and somehow we still survived.

-A

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