Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

Losing Sight of What is Important

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The Mess at Your Feet

It happens.

You choose something outside of the ordinary. A harder life, but one that is good. You see a need. You start giving more of yourself. And then your heart reaches out along with your hands. You sacrifice for the good of others. You give and you give and you give.

And then there is nothing left of you.

When you finally stop to notice, or are forced to notice, you realize you have lost something important. You are no longer the person you used to be.

In the work of living a better story, you have lost yourself.

In the middle of trying to do everything you find out you can’t. You discover that you aren’t able to juggle as much as needs to be done. Your hands are so full that they overflow. There is a mess splattered across the floor next to your feet.

A mess called your life.

photo by (this photo was formatted for the use in this article as permitted under the creative commons license.)

photo by SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget (This photo was formatted for the use in this article as permitted under the creative commons license.)

Is it Worth it?

During my medical training, I watched this happen to many friends. There are few occupations busier than the medical field. The demand is constant. I once worked sixty straight days with only four days off total.

When I  was home, I was exhausted. Both physically and emotionally. There was nothing left of me. I gave everything I had at work.

I would come home and fall asleep on the couch. My two young sons would jump on me and hit me and sit on me. And I wouldn’t wake up.

I survived it all, and life is better now. But some of my friends didn’t walk away unscathed. I watched them lose their families. Lose their kids. Lose important relationships. Some gave up on their training. Some resorted to substance abuse. Some gave up on life.

I wouldn’t blame you for asking, Is it really worth it?

The Problem

When your story caused your life to be a mess, the temptation is to blame the story. To blame the decision. To blame the sacrifice. To blame the demands placed on you by others.

But all of these things are good. And even though it is likely you will have too much to do and things will become a mess, the better story isn’t the problem.

The problem is losing sight of what is important.

The problem is trying to be everything. To do everything. For everyone. All of the time. But you can’t. Nobody can.

And it will be hard for you to see. It will be hard to see that some things can wait. It will be hard to let somebody else do it. It will be hard to know when you have done enough.

Your life, your better story, will constantly be placing urgent matters directly in your face. It does not end. There is so much need, there will always be somebody to help. There will always be something to do. You will always be asked to give more.

And if you aren’t careful,  you wake up with the mess at your feet.

It is Okay

It’s important to know and to understand that it’s okay. It’s okay to not handle everything. It’s okay to leave some things undone. It’s okay.

It’s okay to let some things fall to the floor, just make sure it isn’t the people you love.

Take a minute today, maybe even right now, and ask yourself what is most important in your life. What can you not afford to lose? What, if neglected, will devastate you.

Then do something today to grab onto what is important.

  • Give yourself a break. With your time and your expectations of yourself.
  • Breathe.
  • Let go of something that isn’t important.
  • Read something that gives you life.
  • Spend and extra minute or two sitting with a special person.
  • Tell someone how much they mean to you.

Don’t lose yourself. We need you too much.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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