You will never get it all done. Let's start there. There will always be more work to be done than you can get to in your lifetime.
Accepting this doesn't mean you are admitting defeat (we need your hard work).
It doesn't make your organization's vision of the world any less important (we need your compelling vision).
The truth is this: None of us can do our best work in a state of relentless stress, overwhelm, and overload.
There is a difference between:
- Working your ass off to win a campaign, publish a policy report on deadline, or pull off a fundraising event; and
- Consistently working at a pace and volume that requires ongoing self-sacrifice.
#1 is necessary. We push hard and then we recover, reflect, and regroup.
#2 will drive you and your people into the ground at the expense of health, relationships, and your cause.
Accepting that you can't do it all gives you choices. It creates space for you to do more great work, not merely more frenzied work.
It allows us to change the question from:
How will we get everything done?
Since we can't do everything... where should we put our very limited time and attention?
Since I can't do everything... what do I need to do first?
Since we can't do everything... what are we uniquely positioned to do?
Since I can't do everything... how can I renew my energy so that I have more to spend?
Since none of us can do everything... what can I take off my supervisees' plates?
Since I can't do everything... how can I renegotiate expectations?
Since none of us can do everything... how might our organization ensure that we are all able to do our best work and none of us burn out?
You won't get it all done. It's a simple shift, but a powerful one.
"It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it." - Rabbi Tarfon