Balancing Balance, Part VIII: Evaluating the Extras, or, Why You Shouldn’t Make Pate

For most of us, the Big Chunks and Little Chunks of our lives are pretty much necessary. If you see some on your mind map that ought not to be there, then you have some big decisions to make, but I suspect you are pretty satisfied that you are doing what you need to do in the larger categories of your life. They say life is in the details, and I find it is those details, what we have been calling the extras, that cause us angst and frustration. On the plus side, they are also where we find much pleasure and satisfaction. The next few articles in the Balancing Balance series are going to be about dealing with our extras.

Are you ready to take an honest look at all of the extras in your life? Really honest? No? Then go away and come back later when you feel tough and true. And bring your mind map if you’ve got it.

Making this pate for a holiday party a few years ago was a BIG extra. Why did I do it? Tough and true answer: to learn how, because I love to eat pate and can’t afford to buy good ones, and yes, pride and to impress are factors.

Ok. Tough and true. Look at all the items you labeled as “extras” on your mind map or your list. Pick one, any one, and ask yourself:

Why do I do this?

Wait. Stay with me. This is important. No, there is no one right answer. There are many possible answers, and whether or not they are right or wrong will have to be your decision, determined after you send them through your personal filters:

~ Pride, the show-off kind
~ Pride, the I’m-so-blessed-to-be-able-to-do-this kind
~ Because I have always done it
~ Guilt
~ Because it makes my husband happy
~ Competitiveness
~ Indulgence
~ Because it makes my children happy
~ Lust
~ For beauty’s sake
~ Because it makes me happy
~ To express creativity
~ Because it is necessary service
~ Because it makes my mom happy
~ Pleasure
~ Sensory considerations
~ Because I love to pamper others
~ Because I love to pamper myself
~ Good use of my talent
~ Embarrassment
~ Because the neighbors/my friends /my family all do it – to fit in
~ To show we can afford it
~ To meet a standard – because that’s what good women do
~ For the love of excellence
~ Because it pleases God
~ Because I have always wanted this and now I have it so I am going to do it
~ To fend off the Health Dept./Social Services/an intervention by my family
~ To prevent even more work later on if I neglect this now
~ To develop new skills

And, oh, plenty more reasons than these! The actual reasons why you do an “extra” matter only insofar as they match your values. So…
…Why do you do this?

Use this exercise to evaluate as many of the extras in your life as you care to. Do they deserve to take up minutes of your just one life? Can you name an extra right off the top of your head that you wish could vanish? Next time we’ll talk about how to decide if that can happen, but in the meantime, don’t make pate. It’s a ton of work, and in the end what you really have is a kind of cold meatloaf.

Want to read more of this series?
Part I: Embracing the Truth
Part II: Personal Filters
Part III: Do I Have the Right to Choose My Filters?
Part IV: Personal Filters for Life Management
Part V: What are Your Family’s Gatekeeper Filters?
Part VI: Where Does Your Time Go?
Part VII: Categorizing My Life’s Big Chunks, Little Chunks, and Nuggets

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  • In My Kitchen, In My Life is a place where women (and the odd male) can be encouraged, nudged, and occasionally kicked in the pants toward living their lives on a higher plane. Oh, and readers get plenty of chances to laugh at the author's foibles, which is always worth a click.

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