Be Challenged, Be Empowered, Blog

It’s Your Circus, How Many Plates You Wanna Spin?

Happy Thursday, my friends! All my best to you as you head into the weekend, or the pre-weekend. I mean we’re technically in the pre-weekend now, so happy weekend 😉 After last week’s discussion I hope you were able to infuse your life with a bit of a learning perspective and willingness to be new at something.

This week I want to talk about spinning plates. You know the old images, maybe of a circus act, where the person places a large plate on a long wooden pole and starts it spinning. We watch in amazement as they keep going, adding more poles and more plates, all the while keeping the previous plates in motion, suspended in the air on their poles. A plates may teeter but just before its concentric circles get too wide and slow to sustain its balance on the pole, the spinner runs over and gives it a little push, setting it right again.

People use this sideshow act as an analogy of the busyness of life, and for most of us, depending on the week, the comparison is particularly fitting. We scurry around through the week, putting as much spin as we can on the plate marked “Work”, then attempting to keep the “Physical Health” and “Emotional Wellness” plates spinning with a quick breeze past before bed. We get frustrated and critical of ourselves as we try to keep serving platters called “The Keto Diet” and “Weekly Dates with My Husband” spinning on dowels that haven’t yet mastered “Portion Control” and “Monthly Quality Time with My Husband”. People tell us that if we decide to throw our energy into the cumbersome plate of “Personal Development” that we’re boring and why aren’t we using that time to add a thicker stack to the “Friends” plate pile. Everyone has an idea about what plates you should focus on, which things are lame or boring. They wonder why you are still focusing on tiny plates when they’re on to much bigger and shinier things. Since your family plate has been spinning happily with relatively little input from you, you finally decide to focus on your health goals only to have that family plate fly off and send your “New Diet” plate shattering into the ground. You want to be great at keeping everything going, adding new things, showing yourself that you are mastering this whole plate thing, but then things happen and plates fall and you end up more frustrated than when you decided to put plates up there in the first place.

Anybody feeling me?

Finding balance is a constant and perpetual process, always evolving as you do. Growing in complexity as you grow, changing with each new season. You are not a failure if you decide to grab a plate out of the air and put it back on the shelf. Trading your hugely demanding tasks for less stressful and time-consuming ones isn’t weakness or defeat, it’s wisdom. If you just can’t handle another minute of keeping that graduate degree in the air, take a break. You can put that sucker right back up there with a simple change in focus and redirection of energy. When one area demands your attention, go ahead and see that for what it is: choosing to invest your energy in the most important thing at the moment. Be patient with yourself as you figure out what you can keep going. Dream about the big, thick and colorful plates you’re going to wow yourself with, and use your current set up to make it happen.

Life is your own grand plate spinning show. It’s yours to make as elaborate, impressive, peaceful, collaborative, or entertaining as you want. Take the stage with confidence, knowing that this is your show, and it will be whatever you decide to make it.

1 thought on “It’s Your Circus, How Many Plates You Wanna Spin?”

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