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Finding space to do less in your life (Part II of the Doing Less Series)

(This post is part of a multi-part series on doing less. Get on the list to get the next installment in your inbox.)

So you’ve determined you want to do less to get more out of life.

You’re tired of feeling harried, stressed, rushed, and like the seams of your life are busting from being overstuffed.

You’re ready to be a human being, not a human doing.

But what does that actually mean? What does it actually look like?

I’ve asked myself that question a lot over the last six months as I’ve been noodling around on the power of less.

In part one of this series, 8 signs that youre addicted to busyness, I promised to share some specific ways that I’ve recently been creating space to do less in my life.

If the conscious pursuit of doing less were my life span, I feel as though I’m in my infancy on this one. But we have to start somewhere.

SAY NO TO ALMOST EVERYTHING

You may love to say yes. (I love to say yes.) But years of saying yes to everything that came my way left me feeling like a slave to my overburdened schedule. Instead of pursuing my own priorities, I was spending all day every day serving everyone else’s.

While that may sound selfless and lovely, it actually made me feel spent and resentful. And guess what I had left to devote to my own dreams and desires? Nada.

Make saying no part of your spiritual practice. Will it feel uncomfortable at first? Yep. Will you disappoint some folks? Yep.

But here’s the key:

twitter_standingSaying yes to everything cheapens your yes. (Tweet it)

 

I used to be a bit of a yes ho, if you will. Not only did I feel at the mercy of other people’s agendas, it made me feel a little dirty over time.

Now that I’m far more discriminating with what I opt in to, my yes actually means something. I trust myself more. I’m in integrity instead of running around like a loose people-pleaser.

Thou shalt filter

How do you know what to say yes to and what to say no to? Create a filter.

Darren Hardy, publisher of SUCCESS magazine, shares a concept called “the vital few.” This is a very short list (2-3 items max) of activities that you and only you can do which move you forward toward your goals.

Your vital few are the highest leverage ways you can spend your time. Said another way, when you do this stuff you get a really big bang for the time you invest. You get more done in less time. You feel incredibly energized. You make leaps forward instead of baby steps.

Ask yourself:

-What can I, and only I, do to get closer to my most important goals?

-What do I absolutely love doing that also moves me toward my goals?

Your answers will point you in the direction of your vital few.

My vital few are writing/content creation and connecting with potential new members of The Freedom Family.

When an opportunity or task comes across your radar, ask yourself:

Will doing this help me spend more time doing my vital few?

Follow Your Enthusiasm

I recently said no to a really cool opportunity because it didn’t align with my top three priorities for the coming year. I felt really excited when I got the email and really excited after the initial exploratory phone call. But when I looked at my top three things I want to focus on right now, it just wasn’t on the list.

(I heard a great tip from Warren Buffet for choosing the top priorities: write down all of your priorities, pick the top three, then throw out the rest of the list. Freeing and terrifying, simultaneously. I highly recommend it.)

That said, weeks later I kept thinking about how fun it would be to pursue this project I’d said no to. It began popping into my head every day for over a week. I felt genuinely enthusiastic about it.

So I emailed the person back and asked if we could open the door of possibility again.

twitter_standingLet your enthusiasm lead you where your head sometimes cant. (Tweet it.)

Because, while having filters that help you determine what to say yes and no to is helpful, sometimes you have to throw those out and follow what moves you.

If you’re nervous about following your enthusiasm because you tend to feel enthusiastic about a lot of things, give yourself time. Ask for 48 hours before you make your decision so that you can see if that enthusiasm is just a quick dopamine shot of feeling wanted or if it’s the kind of sustainable energy you’ll need to follow through with a project and feel good about it the whole way through.

In the next installment of the “Doing Less Series” I’ll share a few loving guidelines I’ve put in place for myself which I call my “Rules for Sane Living.” They help me do what needs to be done while feeling spacious and calm.

OVER TO YOU:

Have you ever felt like a “yes ho”?

What filters do you have in place for helping you decide what to say no to and what to say yes to?

  • Allison says:

    My name is Allison and I’m a yes ho! I’m reading this this morning, looking at my schedule today and feeling zero space to dream and work on my goals. But I was at a Desire Map Beta Workshop this weekend and Wholly Spacious is one of my CDF’s. Time to say no and create that space. My question is, when it’s your job, your livelihood, how do you get over the fear of saying no?

    • Kate says:

      It’s a leap of faith. You say no anyway and feel the uncomfortable pause. That gap is where the magic happens and you’ll miss out if you’re always saying yes from fear of not having enough.

  • Danielle says:

    I love this!! I’ve always admired women with boundaries. It’s a beautiful learned characteristic. I do love to help but can be a TOTAL ‘yes ho’ and end up draining myself and my self worth (from feeling used and abused – yuck!). Thanks for the reminder that this no longer serves me or ANYONE!

  • Olga says:

    Following your enthusiasm is great as long as the enthusiasim lasts. I find that, many times, the enthusiasm is lost after a day or two!

  • Beth says:

    Oh universe, how divine you are. So this whole month, I’ve been practicing ‘no’. Beyond what I was already committed to, no extra shifts, no extra events, no extra chores, etc… Anyways, the main emotion that keeps coming up is guilt. Like a lot of guilt. It’s better now or I’m experiencing it less, but it still come up. Awkward truth: Putting myself first makes me feel guilty. Any suggestions?

    • Kate says:

      Great question! I would look around and see how your life has improved and how that’s radiating out and positively affecting others since you stopped saying yes to everyone. And keep at it – this is just your old pattern dying a painful death.

  • Dell Eddins says:

    I have three part time jobs to make ends meet as I move toward painting full time. There is a lot of the yes word in my life, always keeping me from painting. Thanks for this series. Your book has helped me start to see money differently, so maybe I am heading in the right direction. Will do the Buffet list right now!

  • Dell Eddins says:

    The truth looking me in the face reading my comment above and the answers I wrote to the questions you posed and the priority list. I am not living my answers, but still giving my time over to money fears. Thanks for the mirror, Kate.

  • haha “Yes ho” – I love it! I have been guilty of this for sure. My mind always daydreams of the potential behind every offer until is snowballs out of control. This is a great reminder to reign in my schedule and focus on only those dream making actions instead.

    It’s so funny, I actually found myself writing about a similar thing last week. I realized this past year I’ve done a lot to shed unwanted habits that were no longer serving me or my schedule. You know the kind – where your organizational tools get sort of “out of hand” until they are no longer helpful! Here it is, if your find yourself curious or wanting to make the same changes too. http://www.soultiply.com/diy-simple-life/ I can tell you, I feel SO MUCH BETTER after being honest with myself and making the necessary cuts.

    Love it as always Kate!! xoxo

    Best,
    Brittany

  • Sandy says:

    Wow!! This has come up at the perfect time in my life. Lol. It’s funny that the Universe has been trying to tell me something. I’ve been getting a lot of inspirational emails lately about slowing down and about saying “No”. And your advice here is exactly what I needed to hear. I’ve been a yes girl recently and it’s been very draining. Thank you so much for sharing such wisdom. :)

  • Paula says:

    Hi Kate!

    Great BLOG.

    I discovered I typically say “NO!” to everything on the personal side of my life. For fear I cannot control the landslide, and therefore, my personal space.
    And the preverbial “Yes” to business requests that take up all of my 6am-7pm M-F time when I could be getting more clients, marketing, and generating better income…YIKES!!!
    Dah!
    Let’s reverse this trend, say, for 21 days and see what the outcome brings.
    Thank you for the incredible insight.

    Cheers!

  • Hi Kate,

    Loved your message. My mantra is “Say Yes, to LESS!” :-)

    It’s a great life, simplified!

    Bettina

  • Gilly says:

    Kate, I love the topics you choose and how you get your viewers! We are all sometimes a little loose with those yeses i think! I know I was and I fight my inner pleaser all the time. I love being mother hen to my friends and super mommy and busy entrepreneur…yadda yadda. But, lately I have been laser focused and havent been saying yes to field trips and coffees etc and one day I said yes to lunch with friends last week and I felt great and they appreciated it so much too. I also felt like I made the choice, not just squeezing it in so I can check off a few friends on my ‘to see’ list!
    Thanks for the best reminders. You are outstanding!
    Gilly

  • Ali Schueler says:

    Thank you for this, Kate. Reading this article helped me to move forward with saying no to an opportunity, which on the books looked great and beneficial, but intuitively and in my heart didn’t feel right.

    xox Ali

  • Kate thank you for such a great reminder! Loved this article! I teach my clients about the power of saying NO in order to make room for HELLZ YES in their lives! Passed this article on to a friend with whom I was talking to this afternoon, was so fitting to our conversation!

    Going to make my priorities list right now! I have a feeling that my top 3 will be to be debt free, to grow my life coaching business, and to make room for an extraordinary relationship in my life!

    Thanks for being you Kate and for sharing so generously!

    Melissa :)

  • Matangi says:

    I used to say yes but over the years I have learned that when I said yes to things or people I did it because I felt that no was not socially acceptable and felt that I may get judged but with my spiritual awakening I realized people seldom think about you and that was beginning where I paused and never answered right away and based my yes on what was supporting my enthusiasm . U have to be willing to get uncomfortable to find everlasting comfort.
    Love
    Matangi

  • Julie says:

    I just read part One + Two…..I’d also been penning my thoughts on busyness but this was so great to read, to remind ME that I need boundaries. I don’t want to hurt people’s feelings but as I’m steering my new venture, my daily practice has to change. With the mental shift comes an availability shift……I love those around me dearly and have grappled with my own fear of having to say no. It’s not the funnerest feeling but in the future I don’t want to look down at my feet to see that they haven’t moved at all because I was too afraid to say no. Feet that haven’t moved scares me more!

    Thank you for this post, I’m really looking forward to the next installment xx

  • Spot on, exactly what I needed to hear. Read this last night and made some powerful choices based on it. My favorite part is “saying yes to everything cheapens your yes.” THAT is something I can retain and remember when I need to. Thank you Kate!

  • Cristina says:

    Hi,

    This material is very interesting to me. Yesterday I was saying that I keep doing things in order to have approval from myself and others. I believe I am very demanding on myself and others. Product of this I feel empty and exhausted plus unhappy and sick. I never had a filter to decide I just had tons of to do lists. I want to follow the stop doing initiative.

  • […] far in this doing less series, I’ve shared 8 signs you’re addicted to busyness, how to find space to do less in your life, and my 11 rules for sane […]

  • Noel says:

    This helps so much!! Thank you Kate. I think I can stop drowning in work and busyness now.

  • […] the fact that the sun is setting in Portland, Maine, around 4:15 pm these days. Maybe it’s the slowing down I’ve been doing lately. Doing less allows things to rise to the surface that I’ve previously […]

  • Danny-J says:

    yes!! I put my phone on airplane mode at night until after 9am too.
    However… the waiting room.. its tough!
    I have found a few times, when my battery is dead, that I’m like “twitching” looking for my phone for something to look at..
    It startled me and I have made more of an effort to leave the phone in the car and do things without it!

  • […] are my go-to strategies for saying a clear “no,” which is a gift to you and those around you. Because […]

  • […] are my go-to strategies for saying a clear “no,” which is a gift to you and those around you. Because […]

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