If there is one thing that life will teach you, it is that you cannot do everything.
Our society is plagued with a superman and superwoman complex. It is the false belief that one person can be all things to all people at all times and in all situations — perfectly. The ability to do more than one thing at any given time is the ideal, and it is celebrated.
The real problem with the superman or superwoman complex (which is a very real concept) is that after a while one of two things will happen: the superman or superwoman will crack under the great weight of responsibility and pressure or the people who you are trying to save or impress will cease responding to you which leads to devastating emotional, mental, and physical consequences.
I used to deal with this superwoman complex in my own life. Even as a young teenager, I believed I could do anything and be anything and be perfect at it. There is a healthy sense of self-efficacy in which this belief is needed in order to succeed. However, since I’m not perfect, I couldn’t be perfect at everything and I couldn’t please everybody, and in a real sense, that thought is very liberating.
Yes, it is liberating to know that you cannot do everything. While some may expect more of you than you can give, you do not have to give in to it. You don’t have to live up to unrealistic expectations set by you or by others for you. You are not obligated to fulfill the goals of other people. And yes, that idea is very liberating.
Now, only if we could put that realization into practice.
How do we overcome the need to do everything, be everything, and be super and perfect at it?
I’ve got only one step. You must define your one mammoth, all-consuming life goal. Give thought to it. Pray about it. Think about the one big, overarching goal of your life. And then organize what you do around that one goal.
Unless you are the creator of time or ultimate mover of obstacles, you need to dedicate most of your time, energy, and resources to that one big goal for your life. You do not get to everything, neither should you wish to do everything. Some things have to be left for the next person to do.
Most people run through dodging in and out of buildings like they’re in a hail of gunfire because they simply don’t know the ONE thing they’re supposed to do in life. The Roman statesman Seneca said, “Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.”
When you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing in life, you will run in a million different directions every single day for thirty, forty, fifty years and never accomplish the ONE thing you were created to accomplish.
That ONE goal is not the only thing you will do in life. There will be time for many other activities and endeavors, but they are subcategories under the main thing. You will do hundreds of different things in life but only ONE will define you.
So, forget about doing everything. Forget about being perfect in everything. Find that one mammoth all-consuming life goal and work, work, work, with everything in you to be the one person who does that one thing as often and as excellently as you can.
Until next time, Vita. Consilio.