I’ll bet at some time you have been to an “all you can eat” buffet or a Sunday brunch. Laid out in front of you is the most wonderful array of dishes, old favourites and new delights and of course spectacular desserts.
You probably had a little internal conversation that went something like this:
“It all looks so good. I’ll splurge today because who knows when I’ll get the chance to have these treats again.”
“Well maybe I should pick and choose a bit. I don’t want to over do it.”
“No go ahead. Enjoy yourself. It’s all good stuff. You deserve it.”
I’ll also bet that you gave in to the temptation and put way more on your plate than you usually do. And chances are you regretted it by the next day.
I call that buffet brain.
We let the volume of choices in front of us override our common sense.
Life is a big smorgasbord.
Life is like a buffet. It’s one big smorgasbord with all kinds of wonderful temptations to fill your time. Just like the “all you can eat buffet”, if you don’t pick and choose which commitments you make, you’ll find your plate overloaded and yourself feeling stressed.
Just doing the basic stuff of life – family, friends and work can create a pretty full plate of commitments. But then we pile on even more, often overloading it with things we don’t really want to do.
When someone asks us to do something, we feel guilty if we say no, so we say yes. It’s like being at the buffet and someone says, “Oh you have to try the pickled squid.” And you really don’t like or want pickled squid, but you say yes to be polite or avoid a scene.
Saying yes to things we’d rather say no to certainly creates stress and becomes an obstacle to life balance.
You see you only have one plate of time and energy, and it’s not a platter. There is a limit to how much you can comfortably balance on it before things start sliding off and hitting the floor.
But a sense of balance comes from not only setting boundaries around the things you don’t want to do, but also saying no to some of the fabulous things too.
FOMO is human nature
It’s natural to have a little FOMO – the fear of missing out on something that life has to offer. Just like the buffet, life lays out in front of us a delicious array of experiences.
The truth is if you try to taste them all at once, you will make yourself sick physically, emotionally and spiritually. It’s not that you can’t have it all. You just can’t have it all at once.
It’s okay to say no to some of the wonderful things. They will likely still be available to you later. That way you will have enough time and energy for your commitments and you can really enjoy them. You’ll have time to savour the things you are doing rather than just wolfing them down.
Life is less stressful and more balanced when you pick and choose carefully what you put on your plate.Avoid having buffet brain. Life is less stressful and more balanced when you pick and choose carefully what you put on your plate. Click To Tweet
My mother used to say:
Be careful that your eyes are not bigger than your stomach.
That’s just another way of saying to be conscious and intentional when making choices.
How much you can comfortably put on your plate depends on what is already on it.
Is it overloaded already, especially with things you find hard to swallow?
Is there space available to add a new and wonderful dish?
Try these five ways to avoid overloading your plate:
Check your happiness factor.
Sometimes you don’t realize how stressed out you are, until you wake up one day and realize you are exhausted and dissatisfied. To catch yourself sooner, create a little time to check in with yourself at the end of the day.
On a scale of 1 – 10, how happy am I today?
Then ask yourself what choices you need to make tomorrow to raise your happiness factor.
Monitor your time.
When people say they don’t have time for the most important things, it simply means that they are using their time on other stuff. Write down your key priorities in life – perhaps this includes your health, your spiritual practice, your relationships. Then monitor whether you spend your time first on these things rather than on other commitments.
You can create a simple checklist for the week and keep track to see whether you honor these key priorities. If you are super busy but haven’t taken the time for the things that are most important to you, it’s time to do something different with your time.
Leave some white space in your schedule.
Life is wildly unpredictable. Unexpected things will most definitely pop up during the week. If you have not left some white space in your schedule to accommodate them, you will find yourself feeling overwhelmed.
Henry Kissinger once said, “There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.” Choosing to not schedule every available moment allows you some flexibility. And if the crisis doesn’t appear, you have more time available for your key priorities.
Pause before saying yes.
It’s usually the unconscious choices that get us into trouble. You open your mouth and “Yes!” pops out before you have really taken the time to evaluate how this fits with your schedule and priorities.
Before you say yes to a commitment or opportunity, stop and consider it carefully.
Do you have currently have time available in your schedule for this?
Are you willing to remove something from your plate to add this in?
If the answer is no to these questions, then the answer is no to the commitment.
Assess the opportunity.
There are so many amazing opportunities that life brings us, we sometimes load up our plate because we don’t want to miss any of them. Before saying yes, do a little assessment.
Is this is once in a lifetime opportunity?
If it is, then it might be a good choice to take advantage of it even if your schedule is full.
The key then is to remove something else from your schedule so that you can have the time and energy to fully participate and enjoy yourself. Many opportunities will still be there for the taking in the future if there is no room right now in your schedule.
When it comes to filling your plate, let pick and choose be your mantra.
Then go ahead, grab your fork and be a discerning gourmet.