Waaaaaay back in late May I drafted a post called Tiny Plate Syndrome. I was undergoing a minor crisis at the time, and writing the post really helped me sort it all out. But for some reason I never published it.
Well…it’s that time again. Tiny plate syndrome has returned…and this time I’m going to tell you about it.
Imagine you’re at a buffet.
Lined up before you is a selection of dishes. Some of them completely lack appeal, but many of them look amazing and potentially life-changing. You want to taste them. You want to eat whole servings of them. But you look down and realize that you’re only holding a teeny tiny plate.
So…what do you do?
My natural instinct is to ignore the size of my plate and go on a feeding frenzy. I will load up that tiny plate with as much as it can hold and then desperately try to add new things on top of that plateful. And eventually things start to fall off. And, worst of all, the absolute-must-try things? The ones I took first? They get buried under all the other stuff that caught my eye afterward.
Obviously, I’m not talking about food here. The “dishes” are projects, dreams, classes…things that could add to my life and take me in new directions, things I’d like to try. The plate is the amount of time I have in any given week.
I’m a full-time mom with a not-preschool-ready 3 year old and ZERO local support (apart from my darling husband, obviously…but he works in the video game industry and is often insanely busy). I don’t have a lot of alone time. There is only so much I can do, especially if I make a point of taking time for self-care and rest. It’s just a fact. It’s a tiny effing plate.
And yet I keep trying to pile food on the damn thing. I add e-courses and projects and obligations until…yup, there goes something on the floor.
And the Really Big Dream, the one that I desperately want but am scared to work on? Buried yet again.
This happened in May, and I ended up cutting out work on my novel (yes, I have a novel), a Right Brain Business Plan book club, and an e-course. And now it’s happening again.
After a long talk with Matthew (who is insanely insightful as well as supportive and sensitive and did I mention that I married my perfect man? OK, just checking), I admitted to myself that this whole “Tiny Plate Syndrome” thing is just a fancy and VERY sneaky avoidance technique. It’s all about the Busyness and getting caught up in “Oh, look at all the work I’m doing” without noticing that I’m not actually doing the Work I dream of doing. Time keeps passing, and I’m “too busy” to make progress on it!
Nice job, subconscious!
***DISCLAIMER: I am NOT anti-exploration. Obviously, my inclinations are PRO-exploration. It’s just that there’s a difference between exploring so that you can find your Right Work and already knowing what you really want to do, but taking on dozens of other projects as a fancy means of avoidance***
So I say ENOUGH. I am pressing the RESET button on this madness. I am clearing the damn plate off! *wipes plate clean*
And now I head back to the buffet with the intention of only taking manageable servings of the dishes that feel the most important (and the scariest…isn’t that always the way?) and the things that truly nurture me. And I will clear my plate before going back for seconds!
Next step: See how I can make the damn plate bigger 😉
I think I was a little hesitant to write about Tiny Plate Syndrome because I worried that maybe it was just me. Maybe NO ONE ELSE IN THE WORLD does this. But, really? Don’t we all struggle with avoidance when it comes to dreams that scare us, no matter the size of our plate? I think we’re very good at making ourselves “too busy” to make magic happen…but once we’re aware of this, it gets easier (please tell me it gets easier!)