How to take control of your life, right now

Raise your hand if at moments you can feel that you have too much to do, that the hours in the day aren’t enough, and that it all seems never ending.  I don’t know about you, but I am raising my hand right now.

I spoke of this on one of my segments on “Alimenta Tu Alma” in the show “Al Dia con Leticia Mendoza”.  As always the segment is in Spanish, but if you happen to know both languages, the video is definitely worth a look!

I often hear from people about how busy they are.  How many responsibilities they have, and how big these responsibilities are.  I hear from many mothers about how stressed out they are at home and at work.  How little support they get from those around them, whether from their partners, family members or work colleagues. 

I rarely come across someone who tells me that everything in life seems in place and manageable, and that they are really enjoying the calm and tranquil pace in which their life is coming about.  In the past year, I believe I heard one person describe their life in this way since they had recently retired.  Yet they felt they had an even bigger problem, which was the sadness and depression they were experiencing over how “empty” and lonely their life felt.  But, that’s the topic of another article.

Aside from this one person, it seems like the continuous murmuring around us concerns the lack of time, the amount of things that need to get done, and the incredible level of stress.  Sometimes, it almost feels like there is a competition to win the title of “most stressed out and overwhelmed person”.  At times I wonder if this is a way to feel “important” in life.  Again, that will be the topic of another article.    

So can we manage to live a healthy life and do the things that we need to do in our day to day?

The following advice from one of my favorite Stanford Business School professors changed my life.  This professor is one of the most respected and well known professors at Stanford, and the simplicity of his instructions make his advice actionable immediately… As in right now, as you read the article.  Whenever I begin to feel overwhelmed, I follow his steps.  It has always worked and has never failed. 

While in class one day, my Stanford professor addressed the business and often sense of overwhelm we may experience in life.  In his comments to us, he was quite clear: We will always have a lot to do.  This will never change.  Period. 

He advised us to see ourselves as jugglers juggling many, many balls all at once.  Where we get in trouble up is when we try to maintain all of the balls up in the air.  Throughout the years, more and more balls will be added.  Marriage, children, work promotions, community activities, aging family members, and the list goes on. 

Eventually, no matter how fast we are able to move our hands, it will be impossible to keep all of the balls up in the air.  Physical exhaustion will not only occur, but also emotional and mental exhaustion, as we live petrified that all of the balls will come crashing down when we least expect it.    

What was my professor’s advice?  Determine what balls are made out of rubber and what balls are made out of crystal.  And let the rubber balls fall.  Rubber balls bounce back.  You will be able to catch them again.  Crystal balls that fall will shatter into a million pieces and never be the same.

What YOU can do TODAY:

What are the rubber balls and crystal balls in life?  Everybody’s life is different, though here are sometips that you can use to determine how to distinguish between these. 

  • Identify a time when your mind, body and spirit has felt exhausted from juggling many different responsibilities and activies
  • Ask yourself the following questions:

o   Which responsibilities must you keep up in the air (crystal balls) or else the impact would be irrecoverable?

o   What responsibilities can you allow to drop (rubber balls) without their being devastating, life changing effects?

  • Let the rubber balls drop.  Right now. Don’t even think about it twice, it’s attention and energy you should be giving to your crystal balls. 

When you follow the above steps, your cousin’s birthday event, for which you are stressed out about arriving on time, falls into perspective.  It’s a rubber ball; show up mid-way with a great attitude and a thoughtful gift and, if need be, explain your predicament. 

The attention you are giving to the argument with your friend?  It will stop taking over your mind, allowing you to have more creativity within you to find solutions and answers quicker. 

What are some examples of crystal balls you don’t want to drop?  Your health.  Your marriage.  Now I’ve added to my professor’s advice and have discovered that there are ways that some crystal balls can become rubber temporarily, and I’ll write about this next.  In the meantime, let the rubber balls fall when you need to.  Remember that those will bounce back.

I hope this article is of service to you.

Do you know someone who would benefit from knowing what is a rubber ball and a crystal ball in their life? Share this article with them, or share it with your friends and family so they can also start creating the life they want to live.  As always, leave a comment or question below, I would love to hear from you.