Too Many Eggs in the Basket

Reader Contribution by Robert Boyles
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It happens so fast!  When the rural lifestyle hits you, it is instant addiction.  A seed catalogue, an article in Grit magazine, or a post from your favorite blogger has you excited about trying a new project.  You want to learn everything you can, you do the research, maybe put a little egg money on the side to get you started.  Next thing you know, boom, you are now knee deep in the next project.

But it all takes time, right?  It often takes money to get started too.  Egg money only goes so far!  No big deal, this is the lifestyle you love and you want to keep going.  So you read more articles.  One day while weeding the garden, or mucking the chicken coop you think, “Hey, I’m pretty good at this, I could raise sheep,” or goats or pigs, or bees, or insert your next project here.

Hay that has gone to seed.

Before you can count the mason jars of canned peaches in the pantry you realize that you don’t have the time to do all of the chores you have made for yourself!  Or maybe, and this is very likely, you find out that none of your projects are going just as you planned and you don’t have the time or resources to make it any better.

The folks who get paid to put labels on things call this “over diversification.”  If it hasn’t already happened to you, it very well may.  I actually grew up in this lifestyle and have often talked with likeminded people who understand the threat of over diversification.  But I did it anyway.  Yep, that’s right; I knew better and still did it.

It is very easy to spread yourself too thin, and it can be very difficult to remedy.  Once the resources have been spent on a particular project it’s hard to accept that maybe it wasn’t such a great idea.  We are hard workers, dedicated, never say quit folks. Right?  So we keep it running, put a few more resources in the pot.  The truth is, there is actually a limit to what one can accomplish in any given day. 

All of your projects were probably great ideas.  You probably did prepare yourself fully for the task at hand.  It is also possible that you will be able to continue pursuing that goal sometime in the future.  If you are like me though, sometimes you bite off more than you can chew.  For me the final clue was when I actually started complaining about working on the projects that I once really enjoyed.  Sometimes you have to be willing to put on the brakes and accept that maybe right now isn’t the best time.

If you have not already found yourself in this condition, congratulations!  Just keep a weather eye on that project list and remind yourself to do one thing really well, before starting a new thing.  Perhaps you are already there and have accepted that it’s time to do something about it.  Congratulations to you also!  Now you can start making good decisions about how to get yourself back on track.  You have some choices to make.  Can you put the project on hold, repurpose some of those resources?  Which projects do you enjoy the most, and what is the resource versus return ratio?

In the future I want to talk more about planning projects that work well together, and even benefit each other.  I’d also like to talk with you some more about what to do when a project has run its course and you decide it is time to move on.  Until then, I’d love to hear about how you got yourself in deep water and what you did to find your way out.  If you are still discovering how deep the water is let me know how you are able to keep it all afloat.

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