My desk faces a leaded window with twelve panes, looking out on my neighbor’s fence. There are six statements written in dry-erase marker in the top panes. They are there to remind me of things I need to remember right now. They are as follows:
You are enough. Not “too much.”
How many dysfunctions are caused by an attempt to prove that we are “enough”? Smart enough, pretty enough, strong enough, competent enough, rich enough, hard-working enough… the list could go on forever, couldn’t it? How many of us hold back, trying to shrink to fit into someone else’s comfort zone? Because they’ve dubbed us too emotional, too ambitious, too sensitive, too loud, too quiet… again, the list is endless. This statement reminds me I’m an image bearer of God. Whatever I am, it is sufficient in the only eyes that matter.
Tell more people “No,” a lot more often.
I am an enthusiastic person by nature. It’s not hard to get me excited about an idea. It’s also not hard to get me to agree to help you with things. In part, it’s because I like having a lot of things going on. But it’s also because I don’t trust people to still like me if I don’t do everything they ask. Of course, if someone only likes you if you never tell them “No,” they’re probably someone you’re better off without.
Focus on one thing at a time.
I can get a slightly insane number of things done in a day, if I stick with each thing to completion. I’m really, really good at beginnings, but not nearly as good with endings. I need a reminder that starting twenty things is not as satisfying as completing ten.
Perfect is the enemy of done.
I also tend to tweak things endlessly. Sometimes, I fail to complete things because I’m not willing to declare them “good enough.” In seeking perfection, I avoid completion. I’m a writer, not a rocket scientist or a brain surgeon. Most things I work on don’t need to be perfect, they need to be done.
You have all that you need.
I freak out occasionally. I worry about money. I worry that I spent time learning one thing when I should have been learning a different thing. I worry about things breaking down, and being victimized by the general entropy of the universe. But in any given moment, I have everything I really need. Remembering that calms me down and lets me breathe and move again.
Keep moving, but don’t discount what you’ve already done.
Part of being present in the moment is observing where you are right now. Part of it is maintaining the tension between looking forward to your goals and looking back at how far you’ve come. I think that tension is important. If you focus exclusively on the future, you get frustrated. It’s a finish line that keeps moving and you never really catch up to it because you keep making new goals. Taking a moment to look back and really see how much ground you’ve already covered can encourage you that you are making progress.
What about you? If you had to pick six statements to keep in front of you (or three, or five), what would the first one be?