(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 you’re 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.
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:
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.
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.
-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?
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.
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.
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?
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