Despite knowing that the best laid plans often go awry, we often still find ourselves meticulously planning for the future.
However, like all things, planning is great but only in moderation.
But you have to allow yourself room to be fluid. Too much planning leads to rigidity, prevents innovation and restricts creativity.
It’s like when you have to go from A to B, you should plan your journey but if you try to plan out everything you will encounter along the way you’ll be less open to the unexpected. On the other hand not enough planning and you’ll just end up lost
It’s really just about finding the right balance.
When you have a problem that you’re working to overcome, where do you focus your efforts?
Often we end up priotising the problem because we think we need to assess, analyse, dissect and understand every little bit of it before we can move forward.
However, it turns out that you’re much better off prioritising the solution.
For example, if the problem is that it’s raining the solution might be to open you’re umbrella, put on a hood or find shelter. However, if you’re just focused on the issue of rain you’re likely to end up frustrated because you’re clothes are getting wet.
The problem already exists and focusing on it only allows it to grow further and further. On the other hand, the solution is unknown and it requires your efforts (or energy) to bring it to life.
I think this phrase rings true for a lot of what is going on in the world right now.
It’s easy to say that if you were in the shoes of another you would make better choices. But the truth is you don’t really know because you aren’t in that position. Furthermore, often when people comment on and criticise others they themselves will not ever get close to such a position .
It’s important to acknowledge what goes into the choices a person makes and remember that people are coming from their own worldview and experiences.
Maybe they’re focusing on the environment, the economy, the wealthy, the poor, mental health or something else. When your focuses don’t align and when there is no crossover, issues arise.
At all times, there will be at least a few different perspectives that you can choose. No one is ‘more right’ than another, it simply depends on what you choose to focus on.
If you won’t care in a few months time then maybe you shouldn’t care at all.
It’s easy to get swept up what everyone else is doing or whatever the popular thing is at that point in time.
It might even be a great cause, helping people or bringing light to something that matters.
However, I think it’s important to ask yourself why you’re joining in. Is it something you care about or do you just want to be a part of something? Maybe you want to be perceived as someone who cares?
You don’t have to care about everything and you don’t have anything to prove.
You don’t have to jump on the bandwagon.
When you’re trying to find a solution it can be easy to get stuck on one particular path. You want to believe that you can work things out so you trudge on hoping for the best.
Maybe you tell yourself that if things aren’t working out then you’re not working hard enough.
But sometimes the truth is you need a different approach to the situation.
It can be difficult to open up to a new way of doing things, especially when you’ve been trying one set way for so long.
However, if you’re willing to do something different even if it doesn’t solve the problem, you’ll probably find yourself closer to the solution.
How could I do that to myself?
The idea that we intentionally ruin things for ourselves is fascinating but also odd because despite causing the mess we often end up surprised, sad or angry that it happened.
Over-coming self-sabotaging behaviours can serve as a growth point where you have the opportunity to unlearn unhelpful beliefs.
Sometimes we mess things up due to limiting beliefs or our own insecurities become self-fulfilling properties. You might find yourself caught up in the unfortunate outcome that it doesn’t even cross our mind that you were the cause of it, or perhaps you’re not ready to admit it.
I’ve learnt that sometimes the problem is you.
And the beauty of causing problems is that in most cases you can fix them too!
There is power in the meaning we attach to words.
The Bare Minimum Betty concept is something I came up with because I enjoy playing around with ideas and creating characters. But it’s about more than just a made up character that doesn’t go above and beyond.
What started as just part of my writing practice resulted in me reflecting on my own behaviour.
I began identifying moments in my life where I was being bare minimum, not in a critical way but in a gentle way. Like ‘oh, I could put in more effort here’ or ‘I can feel myself holding back’.
And in these moments of reflection I began to understand what it really means to be bare minimum.
It’s complaining or being frustrated with where you’re at because you’re not putting much effort in and not getting much back.
It’s going through life without letting your core self be seen.
It’s following instructions and not being willing to ask questions.
It’s being tossed about by the waves of life because you aren’t willing to pick up an oar.
It’s noticing a problem but waiting for someone else to offer a solution.
That’s not the kind of person I want to be, yet I like many others sometimes fall into being a bare minimum Betty.
But in recognising those things in myself I’m able to push past them. So, when I notice I’m holding back, I’ll push past those feelings and speak up.
On the flipside I’m also aware that some people are totally satisfied with being good enough or bare minimum that is totally okay as long as you don’t pretend you’re offering your best.
Which one are you?
The first kind is the one we all know and love (or perhaps just tolerate through excessive eye rolls). This person is problem focused. They find a problem with anything and everything.
What’s worse is if you offer a potential solution they’ll probably find a problem with that too.
The second person is solution focused. They’ll complain as a way to vent their frustrations but then they’ll move on and do something about it.
The first person never manages to progress nearly as much as the second.
We’re all just doing our best which is something that we often forget and it might be the reason why we’re often so quick to judge others.
We so easily get caught up in our own world, our own challenges, experiences and struggles that we don’t consider everyone else is going through things too.
You might be struggling with anxiety but someone else may have financial issues and be struggling to pay their bills. People don’t often share what they’re going through (especially not with strangers) so all we know is our own personal stuff that we’re carrying around with us.
But, I think it would be naive to say let’s all share our struggles and challenges.
However, when you’re going through things I think it’s important to remember that everyone else goes through things too.
Not as a way to invalidate your own experiences but to help you realise that it’s totally normal to have challenges and difficult experiences in life.
And once you truly realise that for yourself, extend that to everyone you meet.
A simple but useful exercise
Get a piece of paper and split it in 2 (or create a word document or excel spreadsheet). On one side write all your problems, the big, small and in-between.
Then the other side come up with a solution to each one.
In my experience, I’ve found that this lowers the feeling of overwhelm because once your problem has a solution it’s no longer such a big deal.
The problem could be that you’ve been feeling really tired lately. The solution to that could be getting more sleep by going to bed earlier or eating more nourishing food so that you have more energy throughout the day.
Or perhaps you don’t have enough time to work on your side projects. The solution could be to commit to setting 1hr aside every day. And to cut out or reduce other things that are taking up your time that aren’t important like Netflix.
Once you’re done you’ll have an action plan in front of you and if those problems are really bothering you’ll do something about it.