I grew up on a dairy farm, where our cows needed to be milked twice a day, every single day - even on Christmas. We would arise at 4:30 am to start morning chores and depending on the season we might have breaks during the middle of the day, but the second round of chores started at 4 pm and didn’t end until 8:30-9:00 pm at night. It was pretty time consuming.
The summer before my 9th grade year I got my first set of chickens so that I could be an egg farmer. This is something I still enjoy today. Gathering the eggs and making sure the chickens have adequate food, water, clean bedding, and shelter required far less time and energy than the dairy cows, but was still something that needed to be done daily.
The final example of farming that I’ll use is when I lived in Idaho and I had a nice patch of raspberries. Raspberries only bore fruit at a certain time of year and only for a few weeks. During those few weeks, I could go out every day and find ripe raspberries, but if I missed a day or two it was okay, they’d wait for me. I had automatic sprinklers that watered them on a daily basis, so I didn’t have to tend to them daily if I didn’t want to. During the spring I would add fertilizer and in the autumn I would trim back the plants. Far less work needed to be done with the raspberries than either the cows or the chickens.
Okay, so I promised to bring all the farm talk back to behavioral health. Here is the comparison I will make...
I’ve noticed in life that I can create a lot of unnecessary stress for myself when I treat a priority in my life with the wrong level of effort. A priority in my life may require dairy farm like work and if I only put in raspberry farm effort, I will ultimately pay the price and not enjoy the outcome. The opposite is also true, I have found myself worrying and fussing over something like it required dairy farm like effort, when in actuality egg or raspberry farming effort would have been fine.
There was once in my life when I had a problem with a budget and some concerns that were likely to come about over that. I started to obsess over this problem and found myself waking up at 4:30 in the morning to try and solve the problem. All the extra time I put into worrying about the problem though, didn’t actually help me solve the problem. There were things I could do on a daily (work day) basis to improve the problem, but it was one that once the initial changes were made only time and the continual daily effort could solve. Waking up at 4:30 am to worry didn’t actually help because even though I was trying to treat it like it was a dairy farm, it was only a challenge that required egg farm effort.
So here is my challenge to you. Make a list of the worries, challenges, and concerns you have in your life right now. Then next to each one of those concerns decide if it needs maximum effort (dairy farm level), moderate effort (egg farm level), or minor effort (raspberry farm level). If the effort you are putting in does not meet the level it warrants, make a change in your effort level. It will make life so much more enjoyable.