The Lie that We Can Do It All Is Not Empowering

Sara Karnoscak
7 min readMar 25, 2019

It’s a beautiful thing to watch human beings give one another encouragement, but somewhere along the way “You can do it!” has started to feel almost like an admonition — “You can do it, so why aren’t you?”

If you browse Pinterest you will find that everything that needs to be done in life has been boiled down to such simple steps that “anyone can do it.” Quick tips for cleaning or working out are often advertised as “fitting into any schedule.” Each of these quick and simple solutions bare the unspoken (or sometimes spoken) postscript of, “so you have no excuse not to.”

“Excuses” have become a black mark. If you don’t do something because you’re tired, then you’re lazy; if you don’t do something because you don’t have time, then you’re poor at managing your time; if you don’t do something because it’s simply not a priority, then you need to get your priorities straight.

The reality is that if a single person tried to put into practice every five minute habit and 15 minute routine that promises to fit into any lifestyle, their entire life would be eaten up by it. Regardless of how quick and simple something is supposed to be, regardless of how anyone can make time for something if they make it a priority, there are only so many hours in a day, and a person only has so much energy.

When we hear the word “cost” we generally think of money, but there are other very real costs that we can incur, namely our time and energy. Just like the myth of perpetual monetary growth, there exists a myth that we can do anything that we want without limitation. And just as we artificially stretch our financial limits with credit and loans, we artificially stretch the limits on our time and energy by sacrificing sleep and making up for it with coffee. But even with factors like credit and coffee in place we all have our limits. When you spend (money, time, energy) on one thing, you have less to spend on something else.

So how do we choose what to prioritize? How do we budget? Everyone has an opinion, but only you can answer that question for you. When you’re faced with the temptation to Do It All, stop and ask yourself a few questions…

  • “Why am I doing this? Because I want to? Because I have to? Because I think I have to?”