We all have responsibilities in our life. Jobs, chores, spouse, kids. The level of responsibility varies in each person’s life. How much each person can handle, both emotionally and physically, also varies.
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How Big Is Your Plate?
A great way to describe how much responsibility a person can handle is to describe them by the size and type of plate. Someone who can only handle a small amount of responsibility and cannot focus on too many tasks at once, may be a saucer. A person who can handle a bit more may be a salad plate. A person with a career, home to run, and kids may be a dinner plate. A person who can handle a high level of responsibility and many tasks may be described as a platter.
The size of plate you are does not matter.
It is knowing which plate you are that is important.
Determining what size plate you are is not easy. The more you can handle, the larger your plate is.
If you can handle a certain amount, it does not mean you are at maximum capacity all of the time. It means you are able to handle that much.
When You Have Reached Capacity
When your plate runs over, you can feel overwhelmed to the point of debilitation. Knowing the size of your plate will allow you to say no once you have hit your max. This takes a level of self-awareness that most do not have.
I recently reached my maximum capacity. I would consider myself to be able to handle a variety of responsibilities, both personally and professionally, and to be able to handle a platter of responsibility. However, we have a lot going on and I am maxed out. Professionally, I started a new job recently, I am starting a business, I will be teaching as adjunct at one of our local universities in the fall, and I try to write daily. Personally, we our selling our house, looking for a new home, have two kids with extra-curricular activities, and we are dealing with a personal situation that leaves us scratching our heads as to what to do.
When I realized I was at my maximum, I had to take a step back and re-evaluate my situation.
Ways to Move Forward
What happens when you have reached your limit? Here are 3 ways you can ensure you can move forward once you have hit your limit:
- Make a List of your Responsibilities
List out everything that is on your plate. List out the big stuff and the small stuff. Besides, it takes up physical and emotional space on your plate. My list above shows the big issues in my life. Make sure to write down everything that you would say you “have to deal with.”
- Filter Through Your Priorities
Look over your list. Which of the items on your list would be considered part of your priorities? Which items on your list are you putting too much pressure on yourself to accomplish? Make a list of those responsibilities that fit into your priorities.
- Toss Out the Things that Don’t Matter
This is the hard part. If the responsibility that you feel for certain items on your plate does not line up with your priorities (or obligations that cannot be avoided), then throw them off of your plate. There is no point in putting in physical time and emotional effort into responsibilities that do not fit your priorities.
It really comes down to self-awareness. I knew when I came home from work a couple of weeks ago that I had reached my max when I sat numb on the couch. My brain and body could not physically handle the responsibility that was placed on me. I took part in the exercise above. You know what? I still have responsibilities, I still have stress, but I am back to a place that I can handle.
Do you know what type of plate you are and how much you can handle? Let me know below!
Here’s to the Journey!
I LOVE this. What a great analogy, with no judgment about those with smaller plates vs larger ones. I know a few platters, and I know a few saucers. I think I’m comfortably in the middle but you are so right in saying that it’s the knowledge of those boundaries that is important.
Thanks Casey! It is definitely about knowing your boundaries.