Hamster Wheel of Life
Ever feel like you’re a hamster on a wheel that keeps spinning faster and faster with no way off? Every day it’s the same thing. You get up at the crack of dawn, slam down a cup of coffee, start up your laptop in a fog, and somehow blindly making it through your day doing the same things you’ve always done but never remember. You blink, and it’s 9:00 at night, and you have no idea what you accomplished because your to-do list grew by half a page.
Or maybe that’s just me.
Life gets so busy that I forget to eat, drink, and even take a bio break. I used to think it was a function of my responsibilities, and I clearly had too many. That’s definitely true. I want to do it all, and I’m always taking on more. But that’s not why I feel overwhelmed. I’m on the hamster wheel of life because I jumped on it, got it going, and then I ran until it was at warp speed. I allowed everything to take an equal position in my life and on my agenda. All of my priorities were equal, for different reasons, but equal still.
Everything needed my attention at the same time. Triage wasn’t possible…it was all an emergency.
PUT FIRST THINGS FIRST
It’s that simple and that complex.
Take the time to slow down and identify what’s most important in YOUR life. Make a list of the top priorities vying for your attention. These are the ones you can’t ignore because they aren’t going anywhere. Rank them in order of importance, not only in your mind but in your heart. When a conflict arises, and you feel pulled in multiple directions at once, think FIRST THINGS FIRST and address the higher priority item entirely before moving on to the next one.
Next, consider your core values. What gift do you want to give to the world? If a value high on your priority list helps others, then decisions that lend themselves to assisting others rank before other responsibilities, like doing laundry. Let’s face it, the laundry isn’t going anywhere. But helping a friend in a time of need might be everything.
It’s too easy to spend our 100 years doing mundane tasks and never living our purpose. Maybe working to pay the bills and help your family keep the roof over their heads and food on the table is your purpose. Taking care of others is truly a gift, one that’s priceless. If framed that way, you’ll be more grateful for your 5 a.m. wake-up call and less likely to ruminate over how you’d rather be at the beach.
When you have to choose between two things that mean something to you, like meeting a friend for lunch or taking some time alone to read the next book in your TBR pile, it’s all about your core values. If relationships are high on your list, you’ll happily put the novel aside. But if relaxing is what you need most, declining the invitation will feel natural since it’s in line with what’s best for you right now.
RELAXING COME FIRST
I’ve had to take a long, hard look at my own core values and priorities. I was trying to do it all at once, and most things were falling down around me. I was miserable, unproductive, and getting nowhere fast. Now when I have to decide whether to use my precious free time relaxing or household chores, it’s easy.
Relaxing centers me when life throws me for a loop. It keeps me on course when everything around me is uncertain. When I’m stressed, taking a minute to sit and be still is all I need to get back on track. I’m a better person when I’m relaxed. I’m good for nothing when I’m not.
What keeps you centered when life gets overwhelming? Maybe it’s reading, scanning social media, taking a walk. Whatever it is, identify it and do more of it. You’ll be glad you did!