One of the biggest excuses I hear from people when dismissing personal and professional growth opportunities are:

“I just can’t put anything else on my plate!”

Have you ever said this?

In Scattered, Smothered, and Covered I outlined three strategies to reclaim your focus and improve productivity. They were:

  1. Take something off your plate.
  2. Get a bigger plate.
  3. One bite at a time.

Here I offer one more.

Bite off more than you can chew.

This may seem contradictory, particularly after reading strategy #1. So hang with me.

My main sport junior high and high school was wrestling. It was something I was passionate about and took a tremendous amount of time during the regular season. I was a good student in general. During wrestling season my grades were even better. I have seen this trend continue throughout my adult life. Have you ever had a similar experience?

Here are some basic principles to biting off more than you can chew:

  • When you have more to do you will get more done.
  • When more is demanded, you will rise to the occasion.
  • When you are committed, you find a way.

Perhaps this is why Benjamin Franklin said:

“If you want something done, ask a busy person.” –Benjamin Franklin

Growth often happens when we are out of our comfort zone. When we take on more than what we are used to, we become more. This is not to say you take a big bite of slop simply for the sake of stuffing your face. Choose your chew wisely.

There are three main areas to get clear on when taking a big bite:

  1. The person you intend to become.
  2. The people you lead, love and serve.
  3. The lifestyle you want to experience.

Given these three, here’s what to bite off:

  • Core disciplines. What are the disciplines that could have the most impact over time in the areas of faith, family, finances, field/profession, fitness, and fun? Choose at least one and start chewing!
  • Special projects. Your dream vacation, starting your own business, writing that book, cleaning up a big mess that you made…
  • Service. Where can you give of yourself? Consider your church, mission work, volunteering, and mentoring.
  • Personal or professional development programs.

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” -T. S. Eliot

Chew something. Chew powerfully. Chew now.