“May God…let me strive for attainable things.”—Pindar
THE PLIMSOLL LINE
There comes a time when we have to accept that we can only do so much, that we can’t do it all, that we are limited in our energy, our time, our resources or our physical strength or all of the above.
There also comes a time when we may have to realize that we can’t do all that we once did, the things that at one time when we were young and vibrant were easy peasy, like falling off a log or a piece of cake. Times change and things change with them and one of those things is likely to be that we’re not as agile, as strong or as capable as we once were. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s real and it happens.
One of the problems with accepting that we can’t do it all is that for some of us we don’t know how to not do it all. Do any of these sound familiar?
· “Yes, I’d be happy to do that.”
· “Not a problem.”
· “I think I can fit it in.”
· “I’ll try.”
· “That should work.”
· “Thank you for asking me.”
What is missing here? The word “no”. It’s just a small word, but it comes in very handy when it’s time to assess your situation and decide whether or not you should take on one more thing to your already over-crowded and demanding schedule.
I once heard a story about a man called Samuel J. Plimsoll. He lived in England in the mid 1800’s. As the story goes, he become disturbed and upset when he stood on the docks in Liverpool and watched the huge cargo ships sail out to sea and many times just as they reached the farthest point on the horizon, they sunk. He determined to find out why and discovered that there were no restrictions or limitations on the amount of cargo that these ships could carry. This, he thought, was unacceptable and so he went to the English Parliament and had a law passed wherein all British cargo ships would not hold any more cargo they could safely carry. And so, every cargo ship had a black line painted around the inside of the cargo hold which was called the “Plimsoll Line” and no cargo was ever to go above this line. Inspectors were put on the ships to make sure this law was obeyed and as a result, no more ships that were loaded with cargo were known to sink as a result of being overloaded.
Do you have a “Plimsoll Line”? Do you know just how much you can take on, how many times you can ‘yes’ before it’s time to say ‘no’? It’s not a sign of weakness to know that you have limits and to stand up for yourself and protect your emotional equilibrium by making sure you don’t exceed those limits. The plus side is that you won’t need to worry about the danger of sinking as a result of overloading yourself with too many things. You can stay afloat and keep paddling towards your goals with enough energy in reserve to draw from should you need it. It’s worth thinking about.