Welcome to our first official day of 31 Days to a More Productive You!
(If you missed the intro to this series, you can catch that right here.)
For our first few posts, I want to unpack what I call the “laws of productivity.”
I feel like these concepts are “foundations” for every productive woman who wants to live and love well.
After we cover these “foundation” posts, we’ll move on to the productive woman’s habits.
(If you haven’t already downloaded a copy of 7 Surprising Habits of Productive Women, you can get that for free simply by subscribing below.)
The first law of productivity is simple, but somewhat exclusive:
You Can’t Have it All.
Let me begin with a story.
Years ago, an older friend vented some of her frustrations with me over the phone.
She was clearly exasperated and lonely as she poured out her disappointment with the current state of her marriage.
“Kristy, my husband is never at home, never eats a meal with us, never spends time with our kids. He works all the time, and since he’s really good as what he does he feels even more motivated to take on extra shifts and clients.”
She paused a moment, then confessed,
“Money has never been an issue for us, ever. We have thousands of dollars left over at the end of every month, and honestly, I resent it. I would rather have my husband home than all the money he thinks he has to make.”
I listened silently, trying to wrap my mind around the idea of never having to deal with financial limitations.
Honestly, I couldn’t even imagine it.
At the time, our monthly income was considerably less than the amount my friend had left over after all her bills were paid.
There would have been a time in my life when my reaction would have been to feel jealous.
After all, my friend’s financial situation seemed pretty enviable!
Thankfully, the Holy Spirit prompted me to embrace a different perspective.
And I realized a profound truth that day:
No one can have it all.
Even though our financial means were less than my friend’s, I had many blessings in my life that she greatly desired:
My husband, ever the quintessential family man,
- helps me shoulder the load of raising a large family
- leads our church and family, spiritually
- spends time with our kids
- plans date nights with just me
- seems to innately know the balance of working hard/loving well
That conversation made me realize how easily we can overlook our own blessings when we focus on what someone else has that we don’t.
Because, dear friends-
No one has it all.
Not the single woman with the great salary and toned body.
Not the wife with the corporate husband and big house.
Not the SAHM mom with the beautiful kids and doting husband.
Not you, and not me.
We’re all in this same boat called humanity.
We’re all limited by our time, our resources, our choices, and a million other things.
It’s funny, because I don’t think my young children quite understand this law of productivity yet.
They get inspired by people or ideas, and feel like they should be able to experience the same things that someone else has had to invest years of their life in order to achieve.
What kids don’t understand is this: the professional athlete, the famous opera singer, the vlogger with millions of loyal subscribers…
Everyone of these people has chosen to singularly focus on their life goal, usually to the exclusion of other things that other people are free to enjoy.
The professional athlete doesn’t get late night milkshakes with the family.
The opera singer who tours the world is giving up an element of time freedom in order to pursue a dream.
The successful vlogger treats her You Tube channel like a job, not a fun hobby to enjoy whenever she feels like it.
For those of us who want to live and love well, it’s vital that we understand and accept this law of productivity.
We can’t have it all.
So we must choose what we will do well.
Whatever our season or circumstances, this law will have the last say in many areas of life:
The limitations of time, energy, and resources will dictate how many facets of life you and I will excel in.
It’s up to us to make the choices of how and where we’re willing to invest ourselves.
Creating a Grid for Living & Loving Well
Just this week, I had to come to terms with this law yet again.
As a pastor’s wife and homeschooling mom of five, I have a lot of “preset” priorities that come with the lifestyle I’ve chosen.
I’m also a visionary, “Type A” woman, with many goals, hobbies, and ideals.
It’s very, very easy for me to assume that if I work hard enough, I can “have it all.”
That’s the message our culture tells us, right?
Women deserve to “have it all.”
I’ve learned that this simply isn’t true.
During a few minutes of down time last week, I sat down with my Encouragement Planner and thought through my seven top priorities.
This list reflects what’s paramount in my life right now.
This list is somewhat exclusive, simply because…
Everything in my life won’t fit into that list of seven things.
Once I prioritized my values, I had a clear vision of what kind of goals I was willing to make for this year.
These seven priorities build a grid through which other decisions in life have to pass.
- The kinds of projects I tackle,
- the commitments I make,
- the goals I work toward,
- the money I spend and the time I invest.
All of these things will be determined by how I’ve prioritized my life.
Because I know I can’t have it all, I’m willing to give up some expectations in order to invest more generously in other areas of my life.
Because I know I can’t have it all, I’m free to focus on what matters the most to me in this season.
Because I know I can’t have it all, I won’t feel disappointed or threatened when someone else does more, or has more.
Because I know I can’t have it all, my productivity will be measured by my priorities instead of by other people’s expectations.
Do you see how freeing this is?
It’s true: we live in a culture that has fed us the lie that every woman can, and should expect to, “have it all” in life.
I believe that this lie is at the core of so much of the madness that eats away our contentment, satisfaction, and joy as Christian women.
Understanding this first law of productivity is like picking up a pair of glasses that were prescribed by your doctor to correct a vision problem.
Once you own them and put them on, you suddenly see life so much more clearly.
So here’s my challenge for you today
Refuse to wear someone else’s “glasses.”
Own your own vision for your life.
And better yet, own God’s vision and plan for your life.
It’s amazing how willing our Heavenly Father is to guide is in the details of life, if we simply take the time to ask (and then listen!).
Have you taken the time lately to sit down and think about your own “priority grid?”
If not, making that list a great place to start.
- What seven things would make it on your list?
- Think about your life over the past six months.
- Do you feel a sense of satisfaction over how you’re living your life?
- Or do you struggle a lot with comparison, disappointment, or even jealousy?
- Have you bought into the culture’s lie that you deserve to “have it all”?
You can download a printable worksheet for today’s “chapter,” with these questions and more, by entering your email below.
Next Monday, we’ll tackle the second law of productivity and unpack some specific time management tools.
Here’s to living and loving well-
P.S. Have you connected with other intentional women over in my Living & Loving Well Community on Facebook yet?