A lesson from my spilled goldfish

When you spill your goldfish while walking in the hallway — twice in the matter of four steps, might I add — you know you’ve gotta slow down.


I don't just mean literally walk slower, although you should probably do that too. I mean take a minute to take a breathe. Stop rushing. Stop overcommitting. Stop trying to do all the things.


That was me yesterday. I woke up early to do homework and the day zipped on from there. I rushed to the library, to class, to the track, back home for a snack, back to class, the Collegian office, class, office, track, office…home. Finally home. It was quite chaotic.


And it was during one of those trips to the Collegian office when I spilled some of my goldfish and then proceeded to spill the rest while trying to pick up the ones already on the ground. Embarrassing, I know.


When I finally sat down in front of the computer to check over stats on the sports page, I ate my bagel (the only thing to survive my walk to the office) and I thought, “It’s only 12:30. I’ve already had a full day and it’s not even halfway over.” (And yes, it was a high-carb, Pepperidge Farm lunch day and it was delicious, and no, they still haven't asked to sponsor me.)


Fortunately, this was the first way-too-busy day I’d had in a while. After having every other day feel crazy like that last semester, I took stock of where I was and realized something’s got to change, and that something was my schedule. I’d been trying to do everything and I took pride in the fact that I could manage it all, but when I really think about how I was doing, I wasn’t managing. I was just surviving.


As I started to reevaluate my overambitious fall semester, I remembered a book I read over the summer called “The ONE Thing” by Gary Keller. I realized that my squirrel-like brain needed to dial back a bit and get focused. I have a lot of dreams and goals and I needed to stop chasing them all at the same time.


Keller says to ask ourselves this one question: “What’s the one thing I can do, such that by doing it everything else will become easier or unnecessary?”


I’ve been working taking this whole “One Thing” approach and honestly, I’m feeling a lot better. I feel like I’m learning a lot more. I have time to read books I actually want to read, I’ve been taking better care of myself, and I have more time to invest in my friendships. And I’m making progress on a new project and that’s been really exciting so far.


I don’t necessarily feel as productive, but I feel healthier and more efficient. All of my crazy squirrel brain energy is more directed and I feel more focused. I’m getting better at making a plan and actually sticking to it too. And because I can’t take pride in how many things I’m doing, I've got to do better work and take pride in the things I’m doing because I’m doing them well.


If you're looking for an excuse to slow down and clean up your calendar, Gary Keller has given you one. I promise he won't let you be lazy or less productive. In fact you'll be way more motivated, and your schedule will feel more free and manageable.

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© 2020 by Calli Townsend.