Sometimes I think I’m superheroic. Sometimes I’m just slow. It probably shouldn’t have taken 41 years to have a realization that I recently had, but better late than never, right? I’m going to share it in the hopes that it might be a useful revelation for you as well:
Just because you come across a good idea doesn’t mean you have to add it to your to-do list.
Let me explain. Many opportunities cross my path on a regular basis. Things to try, people to meet, organizations to join, books to read, and invitations to consider.
What I normally do is run it through a quick filter in my head, looking for any potential positive outcomes. If I can’t think of one, it immediately gets discarded. (I’ve never had the opportunity to bathe in a pool filled with piranhas, but it’s an example of something I’d discard.) Here’s the problem. If I do think of something good — anything! — that is likely to result from this opportunity, it automatically goes onto my to-do list.
Maybe it doesn’t hit the top spot, but it definitely makes the chart. Before long, my to-do list becomes more unwieldy than the last three seconds of a game of Jenga.
Basically, I have been inadvertently turning every “could” into a “should.” And then I wonder why I get overwhelmed trying to figure out how to cram a million good ideas into a life that only has so much bandwidth.
I do this all the time with my business. I read or hear about a technique that could increase our sales, grow our audience, or make things more efficient, and I turn it into a “should.”
It might very well be a good idea, but it doesn’t have to be done, right now, by me.
I have to remind myself that while a new product launch could be a game changer, I probably shouldn’t start putting any attention toward it until the event I’m currently planning is finished.
You could plan a birthday party for your daughter that will make the Pinterest Hall of Fame, but if you already work full-time maybe a little one-on-one quality time with her is the better play.
You could get together for drinks with that friend you haven’t seen since college, but if you can’t remember the last real date night you had with your spouse, maybe it can wait.
You could say yes to the “no-brainer” promotion, but if it means you’ll actually be spending less time doing what you love most, perhaps it would be better to pass.
There is very little in life that you HAVE to do.
And on the flip side, we can’t do everything. We have only so much energy, only so many hours in a day, and only so much money in our bank account. Just because an idea is a good one doesn’t mean we have to say yes to it.
I don’t know. Maybe this is obvious to you. It is to me…now.
Then again, maybe it’s always useful to be reminded not to turn every could into a should.