Do you want to have it all? Do it all? Be it all? Even though we know in our hearts that this is impossible, sometimes unrealistic ideals silently tug at our thoughts. Think of all the messages we hear out there on how to get better, stronger, faster. The implication is that our potential is limitless.
Which it isn’t.
The very opposite holds: we are imperfect. Our abilities and energies are finite. Even our best intentions are muddled with quietly self-serving aspirations.
We need to be able to cut ourselves some serious slack from achieving perfection. That is not to say we can’t aim high – we can and we should. But we should keep our “realistic hats” on so that we don’t become defeated if we don’t hit our high note. We must balance the message to reach for the sky with the reality that our feet are earthbound.
We need to be able to give ourselves more margin.
What are some ways you can give yourself more margin everyday?
1. Dedicate time to refuel. Regularly set aside time to unplug and slow down. The world will not stop turning without you, and you may need to test this out for yourself. Don’t run the battery down by keeping it on 24/7.
2. Get perspective. The right perspective creates an entirely new ball game. The ice cream cone that just fell to the ground looks a whole lot different from the child’s point of view than from the adult’s. The place where I best find perspective, personally, is through prayer. Prayer is where I repeatedly see that God is the author and arbiter of my life.
3. Ask the What-If question. What is the worse that will happen if you can’t complete your task, assignment or hurdle just the way you want? Black and white thinking can prevent you from giving yourself margin. You may believe that if you’re not the one to do it, the event at hand won’t be done properly. Often, that’s way off target. Ask the what-if question to challenge your own view that you are the only one for the job.
4. Ask for help. This re-affirms that you can’t – and shouldn’t- go it alone. Getting help melts our pride, one of the biggest barriers to creating margin. A helping friend or partner can provide encouragement and reinforcement in the face of unrealistic expectations. It also gives the other person permission to be imperfect too.
5. Be willing to laugh at yourself. Can you find humor in your imperfections? It’s okay to embrace the not-so-polished, and not-so-together parts of who we all are. And have a good laugh about it. Besides, we’re not fooling anyone else. Join the party, and enjoy it!
This week’s self-reflection: Do you keep yourself on a short leash? Or are you as forgiving, kind, and patient with your own imperfections as you are with others?
This week’s call to action: Look for areas in your life where you can create margin. Start low and go slow. Can you delegate a task to someone else? Can you complete a plan to the best of your ability, then let it go? Can you take baby steps and be satisfied? Extend to yourself the grace and margin that you so generously give to others around you.
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(photo credit: freedigitalphotos.net/lightman)