It's only September, but in my planner December is practically over. I'm looking forward to living through the next four months. They will pass far too quickly for all I have planned. Fortunately, I had the good sense last December to clarify my focus for the year. I decided then that I would embark on 3 and only 3 big projects this year.
That is, 3 and only 3 big personal projects. At work, I have more big projects in process on a typical Tuesday than I have completed in my entire life thus far. The dynamic environment has taught me to think bigger, for sure, but more on that another day. This post is all about the power of boundaries and their unique effect on getting more done, and feeling better doing it.
Tucked into my cozy couch on a crisp day last fall I decided on my Big 3 Things.
- I would throw a party for my husband who turned 50.
- I would keep my son, who is a senior this year, on track to for college application season.
- And I would launch a book.
That seemed like plenty.
And it is.
With a lot of help from friends and family, the party turned out to be a lovely affair, complete with a fancy cake, vintage photos, and a bunting. I would show you a picture, but I forgot to add "transfer images from camera to cloud" to my list. So, I guess I can't actually consider that project complete quite yet.
My son is, as I type this, reading a letter to his father for proofing that he wrote to his Spanish teacher, IN SPANISH, requesting a letter of recommendation. I think he's on the right path. I feel that 8 solid months of reminders have helped put him in the college application mindset. However, this project is far from complete, and will actually carry over into 2016.
Finally, the book launch. It's peaking now. Officially, we launch on 9/15, but the online switch flipped on at the beginning of the month. I've already completed the first two speaking engagements of the season, and I'm getting requests for more fall dates than I can manager. There are a dozens of essentials that absolutely must happen. The list of things I could be doing to promote the book is longer than I care to think about.
But I don't feel overwhelmed. I haven't felt overwhelmed all year. And I've probably accomplished more this year--personally, professionally, entrepreneurially--than I have in a very long time. Something about the boundary of knowing that in my after-work hours I had 3 projects and only 3 projects to complete for the whole year served two purposes. First, it kept me focused. I mean, for the most part. Starting new projects is okay, right? So long as I'm not committed to completing them? Sometimes you just have to start something new even if you know good and well you have no business starting that project because there's no way in hell you can get it done. But screw it, starting things is fun and sometimes you just need to play.
But for the most part, 2015 has been a year of extreme focus.
The second thing the 3 and only 3 limit provided was comfort. Whenever I started to feel overwhelmed (hello, matching napkins) I remembered that I was working on a big project, and that it had an end, and that I had only committed to 3 of them for the WHOLE YEAR. That made me feel better every single time.
I've known for a long time that constraints facilitate my creativity. This girl can't put together so much as a playlist without a goal, a spreadsheet, and a deadline. But I've been surprised at how much peace and productivity resulted from such a simple discipline.
Simplify. Say no. It'll help you feel better and get more done. Also, it makes road trips more fun.
Except when you start thinking about the next 12 months being full of lasts before your BABY goes to college. Because then you'll just freak out. And that's not productive or peaceful. But it happens, and when it does, just practice #FakingBalance