A mile wide and an inch deep.
That’s usually what happens when we focus on too many things at the same time. We cover a lot of ground but not well. I’m embarrassed to admit that this is too often the case of education in American schools. They cover ALL this material but not thoroughly or intentionally. It feels very much like force feeding.
This thought caused me to travel down a very rocky self reflective path a few days ago. I have been force feeding my life. Just how much of my life was I doing a mile wide and an inch deep? My relationships with my extended family, caring for the people closest to me and even caring for my home itself. An inch deep on all those fronts. Why? Well, simply because over the past seven years I’ve been adding more and more responsibilities to my plate.
Then COVID shutdown happened. And like so many others I had to reevaluate the parts of my life, my very existence which were nourishing the person I am. Before then I had been “inching” everything, even simple acts like mopping my floors and opening my mail. I was covering a lot of impressive ground like creating a Science curriculum for the local Arboretum, working full time, completing a second master’s degree program, attending meetings with a local education non-profit and being a wife, mother, friend, sister. Again all seeming to flow together well except for the deep down feeling that I’m inching my way through it all.
So how does one shift from inch deep thinking? I believe it begins with decluttering the excess. I had to truthfully admit my “why” of various activities. Was it the need to keep going and stay busy that I craved causing me to add so called noteworthy projects? This deep down buried feeling led me to create a why list. It involves listing out the needful activities in my life in one column and in the second column I explain why. I actually sat down and wrote down the reason why adding a consistent workout routine was necessary.
No more rushing to the gym on Saturday mornings and working out really hard. Trying to make up for missing workouts through the week, that’s inching. To accomplish this obviously required taking something else off my life’s plate. I took a long look at my why and sideswiped a midweek course. I opted instead for a work at your own pace free study course. I felt like cheering and shaking my own hand, if that’s possible. I congratulated myself on the two wins. I was improving my overall health and allowing for my study time to be more meaningful and less constricted to time constraints.
This is what I use as my new mantra. When I’m tempted to take on more than I can, I give my authentic attention towards: NOT INCHING. So now I’ll practice saying this aloud over and over again so that I can show up well over and over in the most meaningful places in my life-NOT INCHING.
These intentional decisions have reshaped my thinking so much that I’ve started looking for places to go deeper while giving up activities that create the mile wide mentality. As we look ahead to all that will unfold in this new year, it’s important to consider authentic living and how we forge a life based around it. We must resist the bear trap that threatens to close on our ankles and lock us into “impressive” activities that ultimately steal our authenticity in life. We have to keep returning to the deeper whys and head onto even the “why nots” because it’s okay to let go of impressive for restorative. It’s okay to scrape the overloaded plate full of junk for smaller portions of nourishment. Most importantly, it’s okay to let yourself do it without feeling guilt, shame, insecurity, and or inadequacy.
So say it with me this time with gusto all the way through this new year-NOT INCHING!
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