It never fails; you have a lot to do. You have a lot you want to do. You even go so far as to choose exactly what it is you are going to do by creating a to-do list. Yet somehow you always feel stressed out, overwhelmed and pulled in several directions. Why does that always happen?
There are many reasons, but more often than not it has to do with unrealistic expectations. I see it time and again with my clients… and I’ve done it myself. You put 20 things on your to-do list and then you get mad when you don’t get 20 completed. Heck, you didn’t even get 10 done and feel lucky you managed to check off just a few! Sure it’s about the planning—and I talk a lot about planning—but it’s more than that. It’s really about reasonable planning. If you had a reasonable plan set with realistic expectations, you would have better results.
I work with a system called AIM Smart. We aim for the middle—not perfection and not the least acceptable, but somewhere in between. Think of it this way; by aiming for and hitting the middle, you’re hitting the bulls-eye! I’m happy to say this system hasn’t failed me or my clients yet. In fact, it is a really great and comfortable place to be.
“Wonderful,” you say, “but how do I know what the middle is?” I’m glad you asked. The middle is where you know you can, without a doubt, accomplish a task. When you think realistically about a task or event, you determine what you can reasonably get done. Unfortunately, what usually happens is you trick yourself into thinking you can do way more than that. “Come on,” you say to yourself, “I can do better than that. There’s no reason I can’t accomplish more if I don’t have any interruptions or if I just buckle-down and do it.” And so you push yourself and things don’t go the way you want them to or thought they would. What results is often frustration, overwhelm, exhaustion, and disappointment. Alternatively, aiming for the middle—the realistic—keeps us on an even keel to success and eliminates a lot of the stresses we put on ourselves.
Since I just celebrated Christmas, and for the first time ever had a really great time and did not over-exhaust myself, I’ll use it as an example to help you aim in middle so that you don’t go crazy with too much to do.
- Know what your final outcome is. Enjoy the month of December, preparing for Christmas with joy and ease and feeling good, energized and happy. Spend time with family and friends.
- Make a master list of all that you want you to do for your outcome. 1) Host Christmas Brunch, 2) Have gifts wrapped with fun holiday paper, 3) Get together with friends.
- From the master list, plan what you will do to accomplish your goal(s) (do this for as many tasks as you have). Host Christmas Brunch – know who to invite, select a time, plan menu, extend invitations, and shop for food.
- Stop doing things more than once. Plan the time and menu first, then invite the guests—not the other way around—so all questions can be answered the first time around no need for “I’ll get back to you.” Plan the menu, double-check what’s needed, and shop only once.
- Keep yourself honest. Ask yourself what is realistic that you can get done and then do that. If you find you have additional time, consult your list and to do another task that you have time for – again asking what is realistic in the time you have available.
- Keep your final outcome in mind. By knowing what it is you want to have (i.e. calm, happy, enjoyable holiday season), it is easier to stay on target and reach your goals.
Old habits are hard to break, that I know! I also know that new habits are easy to make, all you need is a plan to be in the middle!
Feel free to use these tips as you head into the exciting and fresh New Year. You can do things differently and you can make lasting positive changes. You can have what you want. You only need to have realistic expectations.