There’s A Difference

Happy Monday everyone! I keep touching on this, but boy is time flying. Friday night, I surprised my parents by coming home a few hours earlier than they expected, and I think I made their day. My mom shed a tear or two and my dad was all smiles…I guess it was worth sitting in a little traffic to see them so happy 🙂

Recently, our parish in Melbourne was blessed with a new pastor, Fr. Martin. He is just what the church needed. He’s vibrant, relatable, and brings much needed charisma to the homilies. I think a lot of us are scared to say this, but we all know that when the priest is a little lackadaisical, it’s very hard to be fully present in worship. Our minds wander and we go through the motions…before we know it, we’re back in the car with no recollection of the homily, readings, or who we shook hands with. Thankfully, Ascension’s new priest broke that mantra, which has plagued me ever since my favorite priest left.

Fr. Martin touched on a point this weekend that I think we are all guilty of, especially myself, and that is that we live a life focused on checking boxes. Contemporarily, we are all so busy that we become fixated on getting through our to-do lists in anyway possible. For most of us, our days go as follows…I went to Mass on Sunday, check. I blessed the food before I ate, check. I ate dinner as a family, check. I went to class, check.

That’s fine until we realize there’s one box we haven’t been checking off: the quality of our actions.

We all go through the motions and assume that because we did it, we are free and clear. Because we said grace, we will meet God at the pearly gates. Because we went to class, we’ll get a 4.0. As nice as that would be, that’s not the way life works. We know this deep inside, yet we choose to ignore it because it’s easier. It’s easier to check off as many boxes as possible rather than becoming fully involved in something.

But is it more efficient? Isn’t it true that when the quality of something is flawed, it often needs replaced sooner than its well-built counterpart? Yes, it might be cheaper initially, but somewhere down the road we end up paying more to fix the cheaper product. It might be cheaper to buy the store brand paper towel, but when we end up using a whole roll to clean up a spill that a few sheets of Bounty could have handled, we wish we had spent more on Bounty initially. The same can be said for our spiritual lives…sure we can say grace, attend Mass, and take part in a Bible study, but if we aren’t bringing our whole selves into those moments we might end up in purgatory with the same person who only went to Mass once a month.

In short, there’s a difference between simply being there and being there wholeheartedly.

When I think back on my life, I’ve been there more than I’ve been there. In class and church, my mind is often in a different place. When I come home, I’m often more focused on doing homework or getting stressed about school than being with my family. In high school, I often spent more time on my phone when I was with friends than I did actually hanging out with them.

I believe checking a box is easier today because we have to multitask to survive. If we don’t, we get left in the dust. I’d even venture to say that the more successful we get at multitasking, the more responsibilities we are given because we become known as the person that can “handle” a lot. We get labeled as hardworking and dedicated, so people like to give us more to do. Of course this leads to more multitasking and less quality work. Eventually, we get burnt out trying to keep up.

And as I write this, I realize I’m describing myself. People noticed how hardworking I was, so I got more and more responsibility. Before I knew it, a year had gone by and I developed IBS. I was so focused on the quantity that I forgot about quality. I didn’t take care of my body or fulfill my duties to the best of my abilities. I hit a wall. I got burnt out.

The hard part is that society doesn’t reward the people that are truly hardworking and dedicated; those individuals that give all they have to everything in life…at least initially. I’ve noticed that while people such as these suffer in the beginning, they are often the ones that are viewed as successful later in life.

How many CEOs are labeled as successful only to find themselves lacking the one thing we spend our lives chasing…love? How often is the family man labeled as a loser only to be the person with the one thing the CEO doesn’t have? The CEO focused on the number of boxes he checked, but the family man focused on the quality of the boxes he checked. He won out in the end.

Life isn’t easy. The truth is that we can’t be all quality or all quantity. We need to be a balance of both. If we focus too much on one, we will eventually fall short. But balance is hard, which is why very few achieve it. Personally, I find that 80% quality and 20% quantity is the best balance for me. That way I know I’m giving my full attention, while still ensuring I accomplish what I need to get done. I know I’m not perfect, but here are a few strategies that have helped me focus on quality over quantity…

  1. Before praying or attending church, I take a moment to say the following: “Come Holy Spirit”. In doing so, I ask the Holy Spirit to grant me the ability to enter fully into Mass or prayer. I’ve found that I’ve been able to be more present when I do this.
  2. I remind myself to slow down. When I feel my mind running rampant, I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I remind myself to be fully present. I know the poorer I perform initially, the more I’ll end up repeating later on.
  3. I remind myself of the repercussions of focusing on quantity…lacking relationships, burn out, and emotional/spiritual pain. We can all point to a time in our lives where we made this mistake. Remembering how we felt in that moment can be a powerful tool to prevent it from recurring.
  4. Lastly if you like to make lists, this one is for you. Place your tasks from high priority to low priority. Know that you need to focus on completing the important tasks first with as much attention as possible. When you finish those, then you move on to the next most important while still giving it your all. If you don’t get to the low priority, that’s okay because they will become your high priority the next day. This way you ensure every task is done with quality.

If any of you are struggling with this, I hope these tips help! As always, thank you for clicking on the post. Your support means the world to me. Don’t forget to like, comment, and share! I’ll talk to you on Friday.

“Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.” ~ Steve Jobs

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