A few summers ago a girlfriend texted me and asked if I could teach her how to do less. I chuckled to myself as I read her message because I, too, am the product of a culture that’s taught me that my worth is associated with how much I do. The concept of doing less is so foreign to us that we need someone to teach us how to stop all the busyness. We’re so caught up that we can’t stop ourselves.
January can be particularly noisy with messages about the importance of the hustle, the grind, putting in more hours, more effort, and more and more work. There’s a lot of talk about more.
If you’ve ever found yourself saying, “Why did I say yes to this?” or “I’ll have more time for myself when…..” then this message is for you.
When I started talking about Do Less for the first time, someone told me about a community that thought I’d lost my mind. They simply did not understand how doing less could be a worthy goal that would lead to anything other than their lives and businesses falling apart.
And I so get that. There are parts of me that feel that way still. But there’s a wiser, deeper part that keeps at her low whisper, lovingly urging me to steer my ship towards less.
I had a boyfriend in high school who wrote me a poem that started with the line:
Child of Atlas…
And went on to basically say that I could take the world off my shoulders now. That he promised it would keep spinning without me holding it up. (Much more poetically, but that was the general gist.)
Whether you were raised in a family where you had to grow up faster than you wanted to, you take on more than your fair share of the responsibilities at home and work, or you feel like the wellbeing of those around you and the world at large are your job to take care of, I see you and I get you because I have also experienced all of those things.
But here’s the deal:
Trying to do it all will eventually be your undoing.
A few years ago I called my husband Mike from my multi-night trip away from our 13-month-old daughter and told him that my new direction in business was finally emerging. I told him about all of my entrepreneurial friends who were drowning with the weight of the world on their shoulders.
I told him that my new message (for me and them) was to do less.
He told me that was perfect because, completely independent of this conversation that we had not yet had, he had just ordered new vanity plates for our new car that said “DoLess.”
You can’t make this stuff up.
If you doubt that doing less is even possible or that it could possibly have a positive impact on your life, here’s what I want you to know:
- When you do less, you have more energy, time, and enthusiasm for the things that matter the most to you. And focusing on those things catapults your results in ways that feel miraculous but turn out to be a logical result of giving what matters your attention.
- When you do less, you’re more present and you actually notice the richness of your life and you automatically feel more satisfied.
- When you do less, it doesn’t mean you do nothing. You simply do less of the things that don’t matter so you’re more available for what does.
- When you do less, you breathe deeper because your central nervous system isn’t all jacked up 24/7. And when you breathe deeper your parasympathetic nervous system is activated, which switches your body from stress to relaxation. Relaxed people generally feel happier than stressed-out people.
- When you do less, you have more space to respond to situations in your life rather than reacting to them and saying things or doing things you wish you hadn’t said or done. Relationships get better. You’re prouder of the kind of mother/wife/sister/co-worker/boss/friend/human that you’re being.
- When you do less, your intuition gets louder and you’re able to steer the ship of your life based on a deeper wisdom than when you make decisions from the anxiety and immediacy of doing too much.
- When you do less, you do the things you consciously choose to do better.
- When you do less, the things you choose to do get done faster and more effectively.
- When you do less, you have more space to be.
Since adopting doing less as a life philosophy, my insomnia has largely evaporated, I’m a way better mom, I feel way more connected to my husband, issues that I’ve needed to address for years but have been too busy to attend to have risen to be healed, I’m taking my contribution more seriously, and I trust my voice more deeply than ever.
Quantifiable results-wise, we had our first 7-figure year as a company the very same year we made doing less our guiding philosophy, I wrote a second book in 2.5 months (and it was joyful, not grueling), we grew our team to 9 amazing people I’m super proud to work with, and we’re routinely two weeks to one month ahead of our workflow after spending years scrambling and doing things at the 11th hour.
I’m healing from my addiction to rushing and the constant pursuit of more.
Interested in experiencing the myriad benefits of doing less in your own life alongside others wanting the same? Join me for the Do Less Book Club starting January 20th.
I can’t promise that it’s going to revolutionize your life, but it’s pretty darn likely.
Let’s source our worth from who we are in 2022 instead of what we do. You with me?Sign up for the book club here.
OVER TO YOU:
How do you feel about doing less? Is this something you already practice in your life? If so, how? If not, what are the biggest fears that come up around trying it? Tell us in the comments!Kate Northrup is an entrepreneur, bestselling author, mother, and founder and CEO of The Origin Company, which reaches hundreds of thousands globally. Kate is committed to supporting ambitious women to light up the world without burning themselves out. She’s the author of Do Less, the Do Less Planner System creator, and runs The Origin Membership, which helps business owners grow their business while doing less.