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“I can do anything, not everything.”


This little quote is short, sweet, and to the point.  It reminds me that I am capable of doing just about anything I put my mind to.  I just can’t do everything.  I have been reminded of this many times through my life.

Mr. Fix-it

As a child, and all through adulthood, no one has ever called me Mr. Fix-it.  Actually, there have been quite a few jokes around it.  I remember it took me about 90 minutes one time to replace a light fixture in the kitchen of our first house.  Why would it take me 90 minutes to do what could be done in 30 minutes or less by someone else?  Well, I put some pieces on the wrong way, misunderstood the directions, and missed putting pieces on in the right order.  I am pretty good at following instructions, but that one gave me a challenge.  And since it was my first attempt to fix something, as a husband, it is often one my wife refers to  to remind me I am no Mr. Fix-it.  She loves to bring that one up when someone asks why I don’t fix something around the house.

I also worked with my father-n-law, Ferdinand, to put a deck on my house.  He is a carpenter by trade and was the obvious choice to put a deck on the house.  Since I didn’t have the experience nor the money, to do it myself or hire someone,  I simply asked Dad to do it and said I would help.  Well, my task was to hammer some nails in, as there were lots of them.  The first few were pretty rough.  I bent some, made some mistakes, etc…. One of the biggest forms of laughter for Dad was when it would take me five swings of the hammer to bang a nail in.  He could do it only three, most times two.  My wife and her dad had quite a few laughs that day, but at least I helped.

The Problem

The problem was I didn’t grow up doing those things.  Being a handyman takes  experience…trials, errors, and repetition to master.  Since I was never really exposed to those things growing up, I never picked them up.  I did not really do a lot of things around the house on the weekends either. For most of my life, I typically worked 60-80 hours a week. Thus, when the weekend came, I would sleep in.  I would then miss half the day with my family, to wake up to a reward of mowing the lawn, or doing some other, simple, maintenance around the house.  This took time away from my family and had to change.

Things Started to Change

As I began to make more money, I started to pay for the run and maintain things around the house.  I would also pay someone to paint a room or do some other type of handyman work.  This would ensure the job was done right, as I am a bit of a perfectionist, but also that my time wasn’t taken from my family as I still work about 60 hours a week on average.  I wanted to enjoy time with my family on the weekends as my weeks were so busy.  Now, I am good at pointing out that “we need to fix that.”  I remember  my son Jay saying, “I think it is funny how Dad points the things out that need to be done, but mom gets them done.”  That’s because, “I can do anything, just not everything.”

My Gift

I have always been gifted to become good at anything I tried and stuck with.  A bit of a natural talent, as long as I stuck with something for a while.  For this reason, I was typically pretty good at any sport I played or great at anything I would focus on consistently.  I stand behind the thought that “I  can do anything, not everything.”  I know me better than anyone, just like you know you better than anyone.  I know I am pretty capable at being good at anything I focus on, but I know I can’t focus on everything.  So, when my son Jay made the comment about how I point things out and my wife, Jane, gets them done, I did not take offense.  I just said to him, “I can do anything.  I just can’t do everything.”  

Where to Focus

We have to figure out what to focus on in life…what we want to spend our time doing…how we spend those precious minutes of the day.  My role is to make the money and the big plans for finances.  My wife’s role is to manage the house, projects, etc…. So, I point out things I see, and she either knocks them out herself, or works with me to schedule something to be fixed.  She typically takes care of this during the week.  It is her job to maintain those things, and my job during the week to make money to pay for them.  Then on the weekends, it is family and friend time.  This works for us.

Remembering that I can do anything helps to remind me to look for the things that I want to do.  Things that bring value to my life or the people around me.  Remembering I can’t do everything reminds me that too much on my plate will result in a half-ass job.  I remember when we first moved to this small town, I was involved in church, working 60-80 hours a week, coaching my son’s soccer team, and also involved in Cub Scouts as the Publicity person.  I found that I did all of these things great, when I was actually doing them.  But when I was not doing them, they were not on my radar at all.  As a matter of fact, things were not getting done for each one because I was so overwhelmed with tasks for the project I was actively working that the others failed.

You see, although I could do any of those things, I could not do all of those things.  There are a limited number of hours in a day.  We can’t put so much on our plate that we can’t do the things in those hours that need to get done.  We can’t do everything!!!

The Takeaway

Can you think of a time that you have taken too much on? Been overwhelmed and did a crappy job at everything? I believe we have to limit what we do.  Less is more.  Find the things in your life that mean the most to you, and do those things great.  Although you may be capable of anything, you cannot do everything.  Putting too much on your plate is a recipe for disaster. That’s why I say this mantra to myself and stay mindful of its purpose.

Although we can do anything, we cannot do everything.  Pick the things that you do well, or want to do well, and do those things.  Do the things that have the biggest impact on your life or those around you.  Be great at those things.  For everything else, have someone else do them.  Trust me, it leads to a happier, more productive life. 

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