How to Stop Doing That Thing You HAVE to Do
You have so much going on. You have so much to do. There’s the laundry. And the cooking. And the lunches. The damn school lunches.
And then there are bills. You have to pay the bills somehow. But you’re scrounging and scraping.
You need more. But who has the fucking time?
So you keep cramming all the things into the time that you do have. And you have your good days and your bad days.
On the good days, you have a to-do list. And you’ve de-cluttered and feng shuied. Ok, well you de-cluttered the 1-foot-square area next to the kitchen sink, at least. Which makes you feel awesome.
But you did the other things on the to-do list. They’re all crossed off. You’re done.
And by done, you mean DONE. As in, if you do one more thing other than drink a cold beer, you might lose it.
Does this sound familiar?
The next day, you try to make a to-do list. It might go well again. But you’re exhausted at the end of the day. Again.
The next day, you make up another to-do list. And you don’t get to any of it. So you consider it a failure, decide you shouldn’t try to do anything other than keep your kids alive, and call it a day.
This is unbalanced, inconsistent, and impossible to keep up.
But you HAVE to get it done.
You can’t not pay the bills.
You can’t not make your kids lunch.
At some point, someone needs clean underwear.
But have you ever considered what actually needs to get done and what can slide? I’m not talking about what can slide so you can stress about it tomorrow.
I’m talking about what you tell yourself about your priorities
We go through our lives with a list of:
- I have to’s,
- I should’s, and
- I can’ts.
Those are often the biggest myths that we tell ourselves. And when things get real and the shit hits the fan, we’re often clinging to those myths harder than anything else in our lives. And they are drowning us.
Let me tell you a story.
I hit this boiling point a few weeks ago. I was trying to get everything done, my kids were home from camp, I had to prep for a Lamaze class I was teaching that night, and I had freelance writing to complete.
I’m not talking about a blog post I had to write. I’m talking deadlines. I have several different clients, and they pay me to stick to deadlines. Like they are my boss. I could lose my jobs if I don’t deliver.
And it was one of those days. You know—the ones with all the yelling, the fighting, the forgetting the shoes when you go run errands (the kids, not me). It was one of those days where you feel like you’re consistently going to lose your shit and you wonder where the nearest hole is to crawl into and hide.
But of course you can’t do that when you’re a mom.
I was shuttling the kids to and fro that day, and I knew that I would have an hour after dropping them off with their dad before I had to head to class. I packed up my laptop so I could bust out some writing at Panera.
I had a to-do list a mile long. And this was stuff I had to do. Like, “You don’t understand—I have to get this done today.”
And then I got to Panera, ordered my food, and sat outside. There was a perfect breeze. It wasn’t too hot or too cold.
And instead of pulling out my laptop, I pulled out my notebook and a pen. And I began journaling. At first, I was thinking about how I was procrastinating, and this was no way to get my shit done. By the time an hour had gone by, I was relaxed and clear-headed.
Here’s the crazy part.
I didn’t go home after my Lamaze class and work my butt off. I went home and relaxed. I got some good sleep. And I woke up in the morning refreshed. I wrote some articles and submitted them (albeit a day late). I even ended up missing out on getting paid for one article that I didn’t write and submit because of the missed deadline.
Yep, I made about $100 less that day than I could have.
And you know what?
The world didn’t end.
I could still pay my bills when the time came.
Nothing terrible happened.
But some things changed for the better. I gave myself space in the midst of a moment where everything was crashing down on me. I was stuck in the tornado of life, and that tornado just perpetuates itself if you keep adding to it. I gave myself a way out of the tornado.
As soon as I found that space, I was able to prioritize better and be more productive. Sure, I missed out on some money. I’m on a pretty tight budget right now. Every penny counts. But truthfully? I never thought about the lost money after that day.
All I could think about was how I really, really needed that.
What do you really, really need? Next time you are giving yourself excuses for not doing it, ask yourself two things:
1). What terrible thing is going to happen if you don’t do it?
2). What amazing thing is going to happen when you let it go?