The bulk of life, I am convinced, is maintenance. Maintaining, I am sorry to say, is not nearly so invigorating as beginning. We’ve all been there–the thrill of the new job, project, hobby, relationship. Beginnings fire off all kinds of hormones like endorphins which make us feel happy and positive, and adrenaline, which makes us feel energized and invincible. Maintaining can feel more like shoveling your walkway during a snow storm. Tell me again why I am doing this?
Whether you’ve spent 3 hours cleaning out a closet or your inbox, an entire weekend working on a relationship or your garden, or an hour at the gym, the truth is such things are oblivious to homeostasis, and will require your diligence sooner rather than later. To quote one of my favorite poems, The Station, there is no one place to arrive at once and for all– “The Station is an illusion–it constantly outdistances us.” Your house will never be completely clean. Neither will your inbox. Weeds grow really fast. So does your waistline.
Have you ever seen one of those acts where many plates are kept spinning on thin spindles–the performer races from one to the next with the goal of all the plates spinning at the same time? This also is an illusion. You will never get to the point in your life where all the plates are spinning smoothly–that is, your health is excellent, your lawn is mowed, your spouse and kids adore you, your work is satisfying, your investments are sound, you have glowing skin and a great haircut, your golf swing has never been better, and you are sleeping so well you have time to go to your book club AND volunteer for your favorite cause.
The reality is, some plates will be spinning, some will be wobbly, and some, despite your best efforts, will crash into a million pieces at your feet.
Insert Deep Breath.
The secret lies in knowing which are the most important plates to keep spinning at this particular point of your life. You may need to remove a few, delegate a few, and even (gasp!) let a few crash. I am convinced that it is not lack of willpower that prevents us from reaching our goals, so much as a lack of focus, AKA too many plates spinning at once.
Less plates=easier maintenance. To eliminate snow shoveling, move to Tucson.