This post is excerpted from Simple Acts of Moving Forward.
Do you ever feel like this? I have too many things on my plate. I’m going to burn out very soon if something doesn’t change.
Sometimes you have to give yourself permission to just not care so much about how something will turn out. I work on words for a living, and with each book I edit I must come to a point where I am willing to let go of a manuscript and allow its process toward publication to continue. There will always be more to do. And sometimes I would fix one or two more things that need fixing if only there were another week. But I can’t afford another week. I have to not care quite so much about making this project the work of art I had envisioned.
It’s all right not to care about some things. If you care deeply about everything, you’ll never be able to rest. If you take responsibility for everything, you’ll rob others of the opportunity to act, and you’ll keep yourself up nights over matters that don’t really matter. Everything isn’t up to you—it really isn’t. The world won’t end if something for which you’re responsible doesn’t turn out perfectly. People won’t even remember what might have turned out better if only you had spent a little more time on it or done one more thing.
The truth is, it’s up to you to prioritize all the jobs and tasks in your life. You can decide what is most important, what is next in importance, what you can take or leave, and what has nothing to do with you. Others may think you should care, but it’s not their job to decide what your priorities should be. In making good decisions, you save for the world your best self and conserve for the best projects your prime energy.
So if you are overwhelmed, find one thing to stop caring about and stop caring right now.
A Little Prayer for the Next Step
The world will just have to keep on going, even though I’m not going to move any further with this. I know you know that other things are more deserving of my concern. I’m just one person, and I will give myself to the task that is most important right now. Thank you for understanding my limits and for helping me understand them. Help me deal with the people who won’t.