You Can Do Anything, but Not Everything

You Can Do Anything, but Not Everything

Last update: 16 January, 2017

The world is full of big things to do and achieve. You can have great gifts and talents, you can have many hopes and projects, and you can have many obligations to fulfill. But there isn’t time for everything. Trying to avoid this reality will only lead to desperation and discouragement.

You might think this is unfair, but that’s just how it is. The sooner you accept it, the sooner you can start to make decisions and establish priorities that will lead to success. Trying to do everything means not doing anything, because you can’t advance if you’re trying to carry many different loads at the same time, because you’ll be paralyzed by making plans and dreaming about what you could do.

“You can do anything, but not everything.”

-David Allen-

The above quote is a reminder that it’s important to just do instead of trying to do everything. You can do whatever you want, but the time that you have is limited. That’s why prioritizing is so important.

There’s no limit to what you can do

For David Allen, creator of the celebrated personal management method GTD (Getting Things Done), one of the biggest problems of our time is that there’s no limit to the potential information that can help you do your work better. The same can be applied to all aspects of life.

girl frustrated at work

In fact, in a competitive environment that’s always being updated due to the immediacy of the web and new technologies, we’re tempted to re-balance our workload on a monthly, weekly, or even hourly basis. Allen warns that, without control, this frenetic approach is a recipe for dissatisfaction and despair.

Prioritizing things according to the goals you want to achieve is the basis for being able to advance and not lose yourself on the way. However, it’s easy for the ghost of everything else you could be doing to pass through your mind from time to time. They key to surviving these ghosts is maintaining focus.

Having an ability and an interest in something doesn’t mean you can do it all at once

Ultimately, having a clear understanding of this is a relief. We often feel guilty for not doing more than we already are, for not developing an ability that can make us better or more competitive, or for not studying something that we like and are talented at.

Feeling guilty can lead to victimizationwhich can trap you in a cycle of excessive work that will eat up a lot of your time, taking it away from other areas of life, like family or personal care.

“Potentiation arises naturally when people pass from the modality of complaints and victimization to that of results and defined actions.”

-David Allen-

How to achieve anything…but not all at once

We’ve already mentioned that the first thing you have to do is prioritize. You can’t get going until you do that. If you want to travel to four different destinations, you have to start with one. You can’t go to all of them at the same time. If you have the resources, you might be able to go to all of them if you organize the trip properly, but if you can only go to one place, you have to choose the one that interests you the most and leave the other ones for later.

Do the same thing with the activities you want to plan. But the truth is that choosing what to do isn’t as easy as selecting a destination for your vacation. In the following points, you’ll learn how to do it.

1. Individual focus

People are irrationally optimistic, which can turn us into failure machines. We’re too naive when it comes to maintaining goals and expectations, even if there is clear evidence that we won’t be able to achieve them if we continue to use the same behavioral pattern to bring us closer to them. This is because we approach all of our goals too broadly.

If you want something, approach it individually. Choose just one thing, put it in perspective, make a plan, and stick to it.

girl looking at postits

2. Eliminate unnecessary things

Eliminate everything in your life that’s unnecessary. Start by throwing away things you don’t need anymore. Then, do the same with activities that don’t do anything for you and take up your time.

Freeing up some physical space and actual time can seem hard, but when you do it you’ll find that it’s easier to fit in the things you want to do, not only because you have more time and space, but also because it’s easier to manage time and space without complications.

3. Ask for help and delegate tasks

There are many activities that need to get done, but that also limit you and take up time and energy. But many of these tasks can be delegated to other people. This goes for personal, family, and work matters.

From doing housework, to managing paperwork, to assigning tasks to an external company, there are many things that you can trust others with. Paying for someone to fulfill some of your obligations will leave time to focus on what you really want to do, keeping in mind that it’s a favor that you’ll have to return.

4. Be faithful to yourself

Don’t take on more work than you can do, and say “no” to everything that you really can’t do or that would force you to put what you really want to do on the back burner. And don’t feel guilty.

Not being able to please everyone doesn’t mean that you have to be the last priority. Since you can’t satisfy everyone, at least satisfy your own needs.

5. Believe in yourself

Anything that you want to do will involve some difficulty. You’ll encounter problems and bumps in the road, many of which you’ll be able to anticipate, but many others will arise in the middle of your path unexpectedly.

woman looking up

No matter how difficult things get, you have to believe in yourself, be positive, and not lose faith in your abilities. You can do anything if you believe in yourself. That is the first step of any journey, long or short.


This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.