We Can't Do It All and Do It All Well, But We Can Choose to Cultivate What Matters

We Can't Do It All and Do It All Well, But We Can Choose to Cultivate What Matters

One of our favorite 2023 additions to the PowerSheets® goal planner is the core truths sprinkled throughout. These core truths—15 guiding phrases to ground your goal setting—summarize our "what-matters-most" approach to achieving more of what matters to you in a life-giving and joyful way.

Because it's one thing to have heard a truth like "any day can be a fresh start" or "naming what matters changes everything" and another to actually remember and believe it—and it's only when we move to this next level that our actions will follow. When life throws us a curveball or goal setting gets discouraging, we need to be reminded of what's true.

Enter: the core truths! As you work through the pages of your PowerSheets, you'll be reminded of what you love about this community and its approach to goal setting with every turn of the page. You'll be reminded of what's true.

Of course, we only had so much room in the PowerSheets—and so here on the blog, we're giving each core truth its moment to shine. One at a time, we'll unpack what each core truth means, how it applies to goal setting, and how you can make the most of it.

Up next: we can't do it all and do it all well, but we can choose to cultivate what matters. A mouthful! ;)

Cultivate What Matters core truth

Why do we need this core truth?

It's easy to get hyped up on time management strategies, isn't it? The siren song of productivity gurus is alluring, especially for those of us who desire to be intentional with our time! After all, there are so many good goals to pursue, so many people to care for with intention, so many books to read and things to learn and beautiful places to see.

And, it seems, if we could just finesse our schedule a tiny bit more, or complete that chore just a bit more efficiently, we'd finally get there—to the place where we really could do it all.

But a truth that has grounded Cultivate What Matters from the beginning is this: we can't do it all and do it all well, but we can choose to cultivate what matters. Acknowledging this truth is part of what makes you a Cultivator, not just a do-er. And it comes with great freedom—a giant sigh of relief!

But that doesn't mean it's easy.

Why do we love this core truth?

The idea that life is short and we can't do it all is hard to accept for us planners, isn't it? (Hand raised!) But when you live with the understanding that life is short, you live your days differently.

"Once you stop believing that it might somehow be possible to avoid hard choices about time, it gets easier to make better ones," writes Oliver Burkeman in Four Thousand Weeks. "You begin to grasp that when there’s too much to do, and there always will be, the only route to psychological freedom is to let go of the limit-denying fantasy of getting it all done and instead to focus on doing a few things that count." Sound familiar? :)

Because time is finite, we will all have to make hard choices over how to spend our limited time. That in itself is not the problemin fact, it's actually a gift. When we make a hard choice with intention, deciding what to focus on and what to neglect, we have very clearly made a stand for what matters most to us. "'Missing out' is what makes our choices meaningful in the first place," writes Burkeman. "Every decision to use a portion of time on anything represents the sacrifice of all the other ways in which you could have spent that time." 

This holds for choices both big and small: choosing between multiple options adds an extra layer of meaning to something as small as an afternoon spent playing board games with your niece, or as big as marrying a particular person or taking a particular job. It's thrilling to realize that "you wouldn’t even really want to be able to do everything, since if you didn’t have to decide what to miss out on, your choices couldn’t truly mean anything," in the words of Burkeman. Yes, indeed.

How can we live this out?

How to give up on "doing it all," practically speaking:

1. Uncover what matters. 

Get clear on your big picture—what will and will not have mattered in the long-term, and the type of person you hope to be over the course of your life. Then, allow that clarity to inform what matters right now, in your current season.

We're biased, but we think the PowerSheets® goal planner is your ideal companion for this process—it's why we created it and use it ourselves!

2. Let go of the rest.

Choose what to fail at and what to remove from your life entirely. When you're fired up about what matters, these gnarly decisions become much easier.

3. Stay present.

Take notice of your life. What's working? What's not? What's bringing you joy? What feels hard? Pause to reflect regularly, and ruthlessly return to your list of what matters and what doesn't. If it no longer feels true, dive back into discovery mode. And do your best to delight in it all along the way. This is your one wild and precious life, and even if you can't do it all, you can do what matters—and that's enough.

Reflection Reaps Rewards
Legacies Grow from One Small Seed
Goals Grow When We Pursue Progress, Not Perfection
To Everything There is a Season

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Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas is Cultivate What Matters' Content Strategist and Writer. With over a decade at Cultivate, Emily loves helping women uncover what matters, set good goals, and live them out with joy. Her free time is spent with her high-school-sweetheart husband and three young kiddos.

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