Wednesday, November 15, 2017

you can do anything, but not everything.


Whether you're a laid-back person who doesn't stress too much, or an overachieving perfectionist like myself, at one point in your life, you've probably been told to do as much as you can. You're young! Make the most of it! Be good at as many things as possible, just keep going!

These principles aren't wrong. In fact, if it weren't for such optimistic motivation, we couldn't have gotten to where we are today. But in our efforts to "live life to the fullest" by constantly trying and doing as much as we can, are we setting ourselves up for success in the long run, or just failure to reach all our unrealistic expectations?

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The best way to identify myself is that I always feel like a jack-of-all-trades; I'm okay at a lot of things, but I'm not really really great at anything. So even if people consider my skills commendable, I'd still end up feeling unimpressed.

There is also something about establishing ourselves, as someone who's flourishing in all aspects of their life, that places us on a higher ground. We cannot ignore how there is some kind of a social approval that comes with being able to do multiple things simultaneously. 

"You're working on so many things! You're so gifted, it's amazing how you manage to do them all!" 

While many people seem to worship the idea of multitasking (or multi-skilledness) though, I find myself increasingly hating it. See, the more things you focus on, the less meaning they eventually carry. Your life grows busy, but not always productive. Reason strays further, and not closer to where you are.

Despite being raised to believe that the more we can do, the better we are, and as admirable as it seems to "do as many things as you can", it is widely irrational to think that we can be everything we want ourselves to be. Because the truth is, we can't.


"You can do anything, but not everything."

Yes, you, an invincible force, a treasurer of many hidden potentials. Hear the countless pursuits that are calling your name. Go for it, the world is yours! Indeed, we must always believe that we are capable of more than we think.

But despite our endless room for possibilities, we also have our limitations. We're not superheroes, and our willpower isn't always made of gold. We set sail on broken boats. We make goals and we fall short.

That's how the first and second parts of this David Allen quote go hand in hand. It's why we should push against our boundaries but also acknowledge them. It's how we embrace that part of being human; being a mix of both prospect and capacity. Possibility and impossibility.

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Everyone is on the search for Life's Grand Purpose. Their profound reason to live. Yet often, the search becomes counter-productive. As a student, for example, the more college pamphlets they give you, the further you are from making a decision. For the young couple, the more houses they look at, the more agitated they become on choosing the right one.

The same happens to us when we constantly ask ourselves, what do I wish to become? Which path do I pursue? We try and try to give our life meaning. And during the earlier stages of our lives, in this world of a thousand maybes, it's easy to be somewhat misguided.

The key, my friends, is not to find more things to do, but to do less things with more focus. 

Life is too short to do too many things that don't excite you. Whether it's trying a new skill, or finding your "true passion", aim for wholeheartedness instead of expertise. Think of this as a reminder that you don't need to master as many things as you can. You don't need to be good at everything. Let go of the idea that investing in 10 different skills can somehow add value to your life. Let go of anything that just ends up blurring your sense of direction. 

On that note, forget multitasking. Forget appearing more competent than everyone else. Forget the idea that juggling many skills can make you seem like an awesome human being. 

Outside of your education or work, find the activities that make you happy, find the paths that help you grow, then eliminate everything else. The world tells you to "be the best version of yourself", but that doesn't necessarily mean desperately trying to prove to yourself that you're capable of doing everything on earth. We first need to know ourselves in order to become the best version of it. And that includes fixing our eyes on just the few things that make us glad to be alive.

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Reminding myself of this quote was a life-saving act, and I hope it impacts you the same. Lately, I'm also learning to apply this to how we spend our time. I used to think that "I shouldn't waste my time, therefore I should fill it with as many activities as possible." However, now I'm learning to spend most hours of my day for one specific thing, instead of spending 2 hours each on countless other things for me to "try." It gets more things done, and it gives my life a lot more clarity.


Being an idealist often shows through my ambitious nature. My mind always sets on a constant pursuit. As much as I wanted to, though, I know I couldn't paint every weekend and write everyday and work a freelance job and learn a new language and read more books, all at once.

We can't all be child prodigies. Regardless of how much time I have on my hands, or how much "practice" I put into it, no human being can excel in 10 different things within a lifetime. 

So do I already know what I was born to do? Do I write? Do I paint? Do I go out into the world, feed the hungry and help the poor? Who the hell knows? I still don't have my packet of answers, and neither does anyone. But at least it's clear to me that with these two hands, and just enough dreams, I only need to trust more in time. I can do anything in the world. Just not everything, and not all at once.

I guess my real triumph isn't in being exceptionally gifted, because I'm not. But the real achievement is that I'm no longer so hard on myself. The constant pursuit begins to slow down, and the areas of my life where I lack no longer make me think that my world is falling apart. Rather, it's building up,

and it finally knows where to go.

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If my writing is a little dry today, it's because I'm in the midst of an identity crisis. This took me a week to finish, and my brain now feels like a squeezed lemon. So I'm sorry if this is a little sour. 
(Cue the dry laughter.)

I hope I see you around.








4 comments :

  1. Great post! I totally agree with the idea of doing less with more focus. Sometimes it all gets a bit overwhelming, it's best to just focus on the things you actually want to do/enjoy doing.

    LoneTeenTraveller | Travel Fashion Lifestyle

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  2. I totally agree with you girl. Doing what you can do is all that matters, and focusing on what makes you happy.
    http://sugarcoatedbears.blogspot.com/

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  3. I'm an idealist too, and I always put way too much on my plate. I'm going to try and stop multitasking and see how it makes me feel. xo

    www.agirlandgrey.com

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  4. this is good. less things more focus is the way to go :)

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