this just feels like spinning plates

Hey, thanks for dropping by. I know you’ve only just got here but I’ve got some questions to ask you:

  • Can you be all things to everyone?
  • Can you do all the things you want to do?
  • Is it possible to balance everything?
  • Can it be healthier to be a bit unbalanced, all the time?

I have my work, my home life, my (umpteen) hobbies and interests, my friends and loved ones, home improvement projects, chores, self-confidence building, self-learning – so much that keeps me occupied. And yet, I can never devote enough time to everything. Giving time to one area of my life must always mean taking time from another area.

Something’s always got to give.

And so, dear reader, what do you do? I’m asking in all honesty, as I want to know what goes through your mind. I want to know if an inability to achieve everything in life worries you, as it does me.

Is there too much pressure that we put upon ourselves – or that we perceive to be coming from the world around us – to be able to be good at everything, all the time? To be able to devote just the right amount of time and positive energies to every one of our goals?

Balancing these many and disparate pulls on our time and energy can never be done ‘once’ as much as we wish it were so. Life is always throw something new at you, something that causes you to wobble, and correct your course.

In the pursuit of self-fulfillment and self-actualisation, we end up more often failing (or believing we have failed) and then feeling that we in turn are failures.

“What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization… It refers to the desire for self-fulfillment, namely, to the tendency for him to become actualized in what he is potentially. This tendency might be phrased as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming.”
Maslow, A. H. (1943). A Theory of Human Motivation

Maslow's Hierarchy - view larger

To become more than we are, to become everything that we are capable of becoming. That is a tall order. And yet, it is what drives us forward, what spurs us to get out of bed in the morning and grasp at any strands of ‘life’ or ‘experience’ that float our way.

It is this balance, between the ‘base’ drives – employment, property, health – and those higher needs – love, esteem and creativity – that takes so much skill and care. Getting to, and staying near the top of the pyramid, while keeping the foundations stable – how do you do it?

So, while you ponder, and maybe come back with your own insight and experience, pardon my leave while I get back to my spinning.

5 responses to this post.

  1. Something has got to give. So give, be a bit selfish sometimes, it’s what people do.

    Can you be all things to everyone? We had a saying where I used to work “Everybody’s friend is nobodys friend.”. Point is, you don’t have to be all things to all people, you have to be true to yourself, the thnigs and values you hold dear first. The people that still like you when you do that, the ones that value your contribution and forgive your mistakes are your friends. The only thing you should look to get from the rest is respect, you et that through honesty, decency and treating others as you would want to be treated.

    Can you do all the things you want to do? You can aim to try, but few people can achieve or expect to achieve doing everything they want and doing it well. You can prioritise and do the things you value the most.

    Is it possible to balance everything? Not if you’ve got too much to balance. Remember, everyone is individual, some people can squeeze more into their day, some can achieve more and keep more on the go and be happy doing that. We’ve all met the type of person that seems to do and achieve more and is wonderful and inspiring and we all get a bit envious and wonder why we aren’t more like them. But you only see one side of these people, you don’t see (or choose to forget) the things these people don’t do.

    Can it be healthier to be a bit unbalanced all the time? No, it can’t.

    What do I do?

    I make choices and value judgements based on the values I hold dear, not those I feel others think I should. I say no sometimes. I make mistakes and bad choices, sometimes that leads to people getting hurt unintentionally but I apologise, accept my fallibility, learn my lesson and don’t dwell. Sometimes I choose to suit myself, somtimes I choose to suit others, but I balance these things and don’t feel guilty about occasional self indulgence.

    I accept that I can’t do everything I think of doing or finish absolutely everything I started. I never learned to play the guitar, read the Bible, do a cookery course, learn DIY skills, book a skiing holiday, took me years to start a blog. But I have no regrets, I wouldn’t change these things, because I chose to do something better. Sometimes that was doing nothing.

    We fail some of the targets we set ourselves and, like Maslow says, feel we have failled, or are failures. But we have to learn to pick ourselves up, carry on and not dwell on the failure. We have to learn to balance life and recognise opportunities. We cannot do everything we want to all at once or in a short space of time.

    But life has a funny way of throwing up opportunities, a moment or a right time to make a change in course or do something new. Missing those opportunities is what leads to regrets. That’s the wobble. That’s the course correction. It’s an opportunity, grab it. Take the chance to change and do something new, but remember that may mean disposing of something else to give you capacity, and yes, that can be a hard choice or a sacrifice sometimes.

    That’s my view of how to achieve balance.


  2. Posted by Captain Caveman on May 6th 2010 at 7:31 am

    Dear God,
    The patient’s best intentions have sadly faltered.
    Despite his newly installed, varnished brain, and being
    Force-fed gallons of viscous demented liquor, he is
    Determined to obtain the new drone spiders’ trophy.
    He dreams of becoming the scorpion who never sweats.
    Quite frankly i’m sickened to have this individual infiltrate
    My headspace.
    He talks of lascivious laughs haunting his every second
    As the clock spits, clicks, and time speeds by in the
    Form of a neon snake.
    Massive delusions?
    Very probably.
    I fear for my safety.
    He is as weak as his fellow man.
    I am now surrounded by hypocrites, liars, drunks,
    Clowns, fools, sycophants and the desperate.
    I insist we barter with the moon to sell the patients
    Cohesive lyrical maps in exchange for a vision of the
    Stricken with grief, I have no choice but to turn to lethal
    Hardcore Punk Paste.


  3. Posted by Captain Caveman on May 6th 2010 at 7:33 am

    Its Ok to drop a plate every now and again. I just try to make sure it doesn’t land on anyone I love. or my toes.


  4. Posted by thetrickykid on May 11th 2010 at 8:06 pm

    I think the thing that you need to focus on is acceptance of yourself just as you are. Yes, foibles, warts and all. You are the perfect expression of yourself right now without change.

    This doesn’t exclude a desire to better yourself, or taking actions to that end. That is inherently a part of who you are. But it doesn’t mean that you are not already a complete package.

    You are already the very best you can be, given the hand you were dealt and the twists of existance. You have made it a long way in the world, had successes, failures, highs and lows. Accept it. Revel in it. Rejoice.

    We’re all in this together. One Love.


  5. Thank you Colin, Rich and Alan. Your thoughts, views and insight are genuinely helpful.

    I am currently writing a counterpoint to this, and my reflections after a disappointing weekend and some positives that have happened since – a balance if you like. Thank you all for taking the time to write.


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