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Too Much on Your Plate?

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One of my most enjoyable Thanksgiving pastimes is meticulously crafting the perfect dinner plate. Interestingly, I’ve realized that balancing my Thanksgiving plate mirrors the delicate act of navigating the complexities of everyday life—both tend to be quite full. It’s a sentiment shared by many; our plates, whether laden with turkey or responsibilities, seem to overflow. Rachel McCreight, a creative mind at Shane Co., ingeniously visualized the ideal American Thanksgiving dinner plate. This got me thinking—what would the ideal American life-plate look like?

At a recent evaluation retreat, we asked participants to think about what is on their plate, i.e., their responsibilities, work or school tasks, self-care, stressors, as well as their hobbies and the things they want to spend time doing. We handed them a paper plate and a stack of Post-it notes. Then, we asked them to decorate the plates with symbols or words representing their obligations, tasks, and interests. This activity showcased similarities and opened a discussion on how the group can support each other. The reality is that many Americans grapple with a full-plate problem, both literally and figuratively. In 2019, a study conducted on behalf of H & R Block revealed a startling statistic: the average participant claimed to be so busy that they only had approximately four hours and 26 minutes of free time a week. That’s about 38 minutes daily, with 40% reporting even less free time. 


Like constructing the perfect Thanksgiving plate, our daily lives demand a skillful balance. As we enter the holiday season, navigating the juggling act becomes crucial, and how we manage the components of our full plates can either make or break the festivities. It’s essential to remember that it’s okay to ask for help or opt for the store-bought cranberry sauce. Choose to fill your plate with elements that bring you joy, just as I deliberately load up on sweet potato casserole because it’s my favorite. I’m willing to forgo other sides to make room for more sweet potatoes because, realistically, I know my plate (and stomach) has its limits.

At the core of our life plate often lies a substantial main course of responsibilities—professional, personal, and everything in between. Managing this hefty portion necessitates careful attention, strategic planning, and self-awareness. Incorporating self-care is pivotal in preventing burnout. While we may not always have control over our external environment, establishing positive habits can make a significant difference. I’ve mastered the power nap, converting a mere 20 minutes into a rejuvenating break akin to the post-Thanksgiving, turkey-induced rest. If you’re looking for tips on conquering the quick snooze, this MasterClass article on power naps might be just what you need.

For those who love data visualization or are looking for engaging conversation starters for the upcoming family dinner, I’ve found delight in exploring Thanksgiving graphs by Rivery and Preferred Strategies. These visual representations add a unique and thought-provoking dimension to the holiday season. You can enjoy sharing data while eating your perfectly crafted Thanksgiving plate.