All or Nothing… and That’s Okay

All or Nothing… and That’s Okay

October 24, 2023 0 By Laura

I’ve always been an “all or nothing” person. If I’m working, I’m working hard for as long as humanly possible and I’m giving all of myself to that work. If I’m resting, I’m completely committed to doing as little as possible and will embrace the rest fully. When I find something new that I love or am passionate about, I dive in head first. New way of eating? Yes, let’s do this. New workout plan? I’m all in. New painting project or DIY project at home? I will crush this. 

While this approach has its benefits (I can be *super* productive), it also has its fair share of downsides. If I know I don’t have the full amount of time, energy, or money to commit completely to something, I just won’t do it. If I’m not positive I can do something thoroughly, completely, and (nearly) perfectly, I just won’t do it. It’s all or nothing. 

People talk a lot about work-life balance, and as an all-or-nothing girl, I’ve decided that balance just doesn’t exist. I can’t evenly spread myself across each of my responsibilities each day in a successful way. I can’t be 25% mom, 25% business owner, 25% author-in-progress, and 25% homemaker all in the same day. Usually one or two of those things take precedence, and the other ones are either significantly neglected or ignored altogether. 

This used to stress me out. I’m a recovering perfectionist and the enneagram test calls me an “improver,” so I like to feel like I have all my ducks in a row and like I’ve got everything handled and under control. 

Surprise… I never have things under control. Things are never in order like I think they should be. But as I grow as a person, I’m starting to realize that’s okay. And you know what else is okay? Not having a perfect balance between all the responsibilities every single day. If you’re not a controlling perfectionist like me, you’re probably over there going, “Duh… things don’t have to be perfect or balanced all the time.” And you’re right. But for me, it’s not quite as simple as just knowing that fact. 

I know that, but I need to fully believe it and embrace it and live it, and that’s easier said than done. 

I remember when my oldest was a toddler and the pediatrician asked how many servings of fruits and vegetables he was eating each day. I responded with, “Some days he has all he needs and more, and other days, he has one or two servings of fruit and that’s it.” It took a lot for me to be honest in that situation (rather than telling him what I thought he wanted to hear and make a mental note to do better in the future), but his response was actually really encouraging. He essentially told me that for kids that little, it’s not necessarily about the daily amount they’re consuming, but the average over a week. So if he’s eating ten servings of veggies today and zero tomorrow, that’s okay. (For the record, I’m not sure I really buy this logic, but it was reassuring to me at the time and continues to have applicable lessons today.) 

When I think about that “weekly average” goal for healthy foods for my kids, I know I can apply that to my life when it comes to my work-life balance. It’s okay if I don’t work on my book every single day of the week, as long as it’s getting a chunk of my time throughout the week. It’s okay if my house is a disaster today and I neglect it willingly all day long, as long as it eventually gets cleaned. 

We all need balance, and while that may seem unattainable on a daily (or sometimes even weekly) basis, it is doable in the longer term, and that’s what is most important. 

In terms of the many different hats I wear, I have to prioritize different things on different days, based on what deadlines are approaching or what else may be going on in my world. But as a person who loves routine, I’ve also established a few non-negotiables for myself every day that help me feel grounded and help me feel like I am always achieving *something* important, even if I have a super restful day where nothing truly “productive” gets done. 

My biggest and most important non-negotiable is spending time with the Lord. I read my Bible every night, and I pray throughout the day. These are rhythms I established years ago that continue to keep my heart where it needs to be. I also aim to read some sort of devotional or Christian book each day to stay encouraged and learning. 

My other non-negotiables include drinking coffee and water. Coffee is half about not falling asleep at my computer and half about embracing joy. I LOVE coffee. I have an amazing coffee maker and delicious creamer, and my morning cup of coffee seriously brings me joy and delight. Drinking water fuels me and keeps me healthy. I can feel it if I don’t drink enough, so I always have a big cup of water within reach no matter where I am or what I’m doing each day. 

And that’s it. Those are my non-negotiables. I tried having more, like working out, committed quiet time studying the Word, focused one-on-one time with each kid… but I just couldn’t sustain all those things on a daily basis. And that’s okay. I’m only one person and I have a lot of responsibilities, and I’m learning that the less I’m committed to, the more margin I have to say yes to interruptions. I would love to do each of those things I mentioned every single day, and some days I do them all. 

But I have to be realistic and I have to be less intense about measuring my achievements and checking off my to-dos. 

There’s nothing wrong with those things, but I’ve been on a journey of rediscovering who I am in Christ, and I’m learning that my value is not tied to my achievements. I am not more worthy of God’s love because I checked off everything on my to-do list today. He loves me just as I am, no matter what, and that is something I’m leaning into more and more, particularly as I wrestle with this all-or-nothing side of me. I’m embracing it and thanking God for making me this way, and I’m embracing the lessons He has for me to grow me and stretch me beyond myself to be the Child of God He created me to be.