My son’s high school basketball team regularly finds themselves at our house. They come over after practice. They come over to watch film. They come over between school ending and their game that night. They are around a lot.
We enjoy having the them in our home – even with the noise, the mess, and nonstop eating that seems to follow their presence without fail. I, especially, enjoy coming up with ways to embarrass my son in front of his teammates by acting like the “old man, who is a bit out of touch but is trying, nonetheless, to stay hip” (which, for me, is a pretty easy role to play).
Recently, the boys were over and I emerged from the home office after a day of zoom meetings and one of them asked, “Mr. McNeal, how’s it going?” I took the opportunity to steal one of their catch-phrases.
I paused, exhaled, shook my head and said, “Man, I’m doing too much!”
They all fell over with laughter and now, when they greet me, they will laughingly say, “Mr. McNeal, you doing too much!”
Of course, that teenage complaint is usually stated as a burdensome moan of frustration to a parent or a teacher or some other authority who is asking them to do something herculean, unnecessary, or impossible. . . like cleaning their room, gathering their laundry, or doing their homework.
But laughing with the boys about that trendy phrase caused me to think about the times we say something similar to ourselves.
Our work and personal lives can become so hectic, so pressured, so urgent, that we can find ourselves thinking, “I’m doing too much!”
We can feel overworked. We can feel like we are doing more than our “fair share,” and that other teammates aren’t doing as much. We might even feel worn out and depleted.
But in my experience, people are far less likely to feel worn out, or feel like they are, “doing too much” when the work matters. When people feel that their efforts are making a significant difference, when they feel valued for their contribution, their energy and motivation tends to stay high.
On the other hand, people tend to get frustrated and exhausted when they question whether the work they are doing matters. When people sense that they are busy but not productive, or being hurried but not being effective, it’s far easier to lose motivation and energy.
The trendy teenage catchphrase might be, “you doing too much!”
But the longer-lasting, more consequential phrase for healthy living might be, “do more that matters!”