As someone who loves to learn, I have gotten myself into many periods of overwhelm as I take on more things than I have time to deal with. Most recently, I signed up for a training I was really excited about. Originally scheduled for October, it was delayed to January and again to April, when many other commitments were already waiting for my attention. In mid-March, I received several emails requesting preliminary work that had to be completed by early April. Not wanting to disappoint the people who selected me for the program and reluctant to turn down a great opportunity, I stared again and again at my calendar, hoping that my intention alone would make it shift. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I stared, none of my other obligations disappeared. As I lay awake at night, wondering how I would find the time to complete the work, I was aware of a voice that simply said, “You can’t do this.”
NO! I exclaimed in my mind. I HAVE to do this. I could feel the little voice shrug, as if to say, “Believe what you will, but you cannot do it all.”
Fortunately, a few days later I heard Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of the Huffington Post, introduce her new book, Thrive. She spoke about the mainstream definition of success as money and power. And she shared her life changing experience in 2007 when, after working 18 hours a day, 7 days a week for 2 years to start her business, she collapsed on the floor of her office. On the way down, she cut her eye and broke her cheekbone. As Arianna wisely remarked, “when you’re lying in a pool of blood in your office, you’re not a success.”
So, as one who likes to learn, I realized I had some learning to do. I sat quietly, listened only to my breathing, and again heard the little voice saying ever so gently, “You already know you cannot do this.” It was a loving voice, a comforting voice, and a wise voice to be sure. This time, I listened. I contacted the training organization and explained that I could not participate. They were appreciative that I cancelled with such notice, before they spent more time and effort on my behalf. I felt immediate relief. Now I would have the time to do the kind of job I wanted to do with the things still occupying my calendar. I felt very successful.
Are there issues in your life that you are wrestling with? Decisions that seem mired in mud? Take some time to be quiet, so you can hear your own inner voice. It has something important to say. Something that may make you happier and more satisfied with your life. And that…is success.