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Stop Giving It Your All: The Wisdom of Half-Assing It


The universal law of Conservation of Energy states that within a closed system, energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Instead, it transforms from one form to another.

You are, no doubt, a remarkable human. And you likely have more energy than your average.

Yet, the amount of energy you have is the amount of energy you have. And most certainly the amount of time you have is the amount of time you have.

Everyone can make more money but no one can make more time.

There’s an ethos floating around that we must give everything we do 200% effort and energy. That somehow putting more of ourselves into something, no matter what it is, is always better.

I call into question the idea that more is always better.

There are things that we don’t like doing, that drain us, and that we simply must do, at least for a period of time. These are things that we can give our “some”  to.

Let’s say you have a day job that you don’t love, but it pays the bills and gives you benefits while you start your business on the side.

Remember, you only have so much time and energy. Yes, you can do plenty of things to feel more energized, but that’s really a reallocation of the energy you already had.

Example: when you start eating more fruits and vegetables and less refined sugar, the energy that your body was previously using for digestion and to constantly rid itself of the toxins you were putting in is reallocated. Now that energy goes toward making you feel excited for the day and able to last past 7pm without having to crash out on the couch.

So, if you go to your job all day and give it your 200%, taking on extra projects, saying yes to everyone, going to all the meetings, showing up early and staying late, you simply have less energy to give to your business, your family, and yourself.

If you identify as an over-achiever, I bet you can give 80% and still seem as though you’re giving 100%. Your level of excellence is just that high.

Then you can take that extra 20% of energy that you conserved at work by saying no to new responsibilities (especially when not getting paid for them), leaving at 5pm on the button and reallocate it to your business, your family, and your self-care.

When you see the memes floating around on Instagram that there are only 3 choices: giving up, giving in, or giving it your all, I would invite you to consider a 4th choice:

Give it your some.

In many cases, your some is good enough. In lots of cases, your some is better than enough.

When you give your some in some areas, you can give your all where it really countstwitter-logo

When you give your some in some areas - tweet

This is not permission to be a total slacker and let people down all the time (though, let’s be honest, you could probably do a little more slacking and disappointing).

This is a reminder that your energy and time are precious, and not every part of your life deserves your all.

Only some things require your all.

Give your all where it’s needed. Give your some where it’s not. twitter-logo

Give your all where it's needed - tweet

The more you conserve your all for when it really counts, the fewer things you’ll have that only require your some, and the more all you’ll have to give.



How do you conserve your energy for the parts of your life that deserve your all? I’d like to hear about it in the comments!


  • The day 1 activity in the #DoLessExperiment REALLY opened my eyes in terms of reframing where I am going to intentionally reallocate where my time and energy is spent! ? I will commit to being more mindful to give more energy to someone or something I love and that energizes me back ? I am a huge fan of your work and the do less experiment. ?

    • Kate Northrup

      I’m so glad the Experiment has been illuminating Andrea! And yes to giving your all when you get energized by it!

  • Hi Kate, great blog post. This is my new way of being this year. After struggling for years with the belief that I had to work damn hard to simply get by, I’ve dropped that belief. Now I believe that life is an easy flow of abundance and I am an open magnet for all I desire! I manifest this by reminding myself each day to find my emotional connections to that place of flow and hold it all day! Relief, joy and excitement are my keystone emotions to abundance and ease every day. Thanks for being who you are and I love this movement of ease you have stated so well!
    xo Andrea

    • Kate Northrup

      Absolutely beautiful. Your new beliefs are so supportive and I bet you’ve seen amazing shifts in your life as a result!

  • Especially excellent blog today! I think recovering overachievers can’t hear this kind of advice enough.

  • Lyn

    Sorry I couldn’t get beyond “your average.” Your average what?

  • Adriana Valenzuela

    Thanks Katie for making me realize and practice at the same time, Ian a 49 woman, mother, wife, daughter,sister that never stops never stops but my energy was not given to the right area of my life, we must put our energy on what it matters on what is worth it such as my life and the ones I love.

  • Rae

    This ties so beautifully to the #DoLessExperiment and is SO on point. You are definitely on to something Kate – I’m loving the Do Less Experiment and I’m itching to see what your next creation around it is – very exciting!!! Thanks for the amazing work you do!

  • Sharon

    Hi Kate,
    Loving your blog today! It really spoke to me. I know I need to give less energy to my current job as I am working on changing careers. My workload doubled last year and the only way I can keep up is to work late most nights and most Saturdays. All of my energy goes into my job and I know I can’t continue to work these kind of hours. The rest of my life is put on the backburner. I have no Balance in my life and I am so tired of it! I would love to find a way to give this job less energy but more gets added to our workloads all the time. It seems never ending in that regard.
    I am really enjoying your “Do less experiment”. Thanks so much for sharing that with us! I have loved your work since your book came out. It is helping me transform my life.

  • Lana

    In ways of conservation, I look at must do’s and passion do’s. If I can group anything together then I do so. The rest should be choice items and would be okay if let undone or for another time.

  • YES, my energy and time are precious, and even more so as I get older. Trying to do everything perfectly is so draining, and some things just don’t matter that much. For example, I strive to feed my family a healthy, whole foods diet, but my 7 kids and hubby just don’t care about anything fancy, so creating complicated recipes is a waste of my time and has no impact on anyone’s happiness. They also don’t mind eating the same few things over and over. It’s a breath of fresh air to prioritize. :-)

  • Michelle

    I work in television and we have a saying: “It’s better than ‘good,’ it’s ‘done.'” I’ve applied that in my own life, as well, and it’s helpful to remember. It doesn’t all have to be perfect all the time and I don’t have to, either.

  • Thank you so much for this! Recently I was running in circles trying to figure out how to do it all. The business that I’m building on the side is detail oriented and my day job is boring and I don’t have much work. This literally gave me permission to do what I think is best for me so thank you! :)

    PS: I mentioned Money a Love Story in my YouTube video on simplifying finances as a must resource for organizing your money! Just want to share the love that you’ve shared with all of us xoxoxo

  • mary bingham

    Great blog Kate ! I have been aware for many years that ‘pacing myself’ is the way to gain my most pleasant and efficient state, but I had never before considered that I had only a certain amount of energy that needed to be refreshed thru sleep. I was aware that the healthier I became, the more energy I seemed able to hold, and the more I was able to do. I am also aware of energy ‘vampires’ and wonder how that phenomena comes into play in this closed circuit idea.

  • Jazmine

    Really intuitive concept in contrast to the usual giving it all or giving it up. We live in a society we’re you have to give your all with everything you do in order to succeed but this leave us resentful, drained and discouraged.

  • I love your idea about giving your some!

    Women’s magazines propagate the myth that we have to do it all and be the best at it. Yesterday, I watched a Today show segment where women described their “mommy guilt,” as if it were a badge if honor.

    If we’re doing what we can, we’re doing all right. And, those of us who have a husband should stop insisting on doing everything ourselves. Let’s give a guy the gift of letting him do his some, too.

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