Do Less. No, Really.

chillaxThere was a time in my life where I felt the need to stay busy at all costs. As a Girl Scout, I earned so many badges my Mom had to resort to stapling them on to my sash instead of the painstaking process of sewing them. In high school, I entered every contest that crossed my path—essays, talent shows, beauty pageants. It didn’t really matter whether I won or not – all I cared about was which one was coming up next. In college, I joined just about every extra-curricular club there was, and worked a couple jobs to boot. As a freelance writer, I not only made sure I had several assignments at any given time, I worked and re-worked every article multiple times before I turned it in; I didn’t want to merely meet deadlines, I wanted to wow.

I gotta admit, old habits die hard. Even though now I’ve learned – thanks to motherhood, a couple episodes of burnout, and coaching – that when I don’t spend ample time doing things I love simply for the sake of enjoying myself everything in my life suffers, I still occasionally find myself in overdrive mode. I know you know what this feels like: 

  • Rushing through each task just so you can get to the next
  • Getting so amped up and focused on producing that you stay amped up; it’s hard to sleep, to be present, to connect with the people around you
  • Feeling scattered, forgetting details, doing silly things like signing checks on the memo line

It’s just so tidy to think, “I’ll work a little harder and then I’ll get what I want.” After all, that’s the American Dream, isn’t it? Work like a dog and get your piece of the pie.

Prioritizing your own hard work above all else also puts everything all on you – which I’m guessing is a trait you saw modeled when you were a kid. I mean, yes, you’re going to have to put in some sweat equity to get where you’re going. But you can’t do it forever. And you can’t do it alone.

Thinking the key to everything is to work a little harder keeps you small. Because if you’re so focused on staying busy you’re keeping yourself from the glimpses of insight that prompt you to do the things that really help you move forward. Things like asking for help. Realizing that what you’re doing isn’t working. Remembering what’s really important to you. Stepping away from the to-do list for long enough to get inspired.

This week, I encourage you to do a little less. See what happens when you stop trying so danged hard. What do you notice when you slow down enough to soften? What becomes available to you when aren’t constantly exhausting yourself?

If you are reading this and thinking, Kate, there’s no way I can possibly do less I am just too busy!, email me. We can set up a time to talk out what’s on your plate and find ways to lighten that load. I keep an hour or two in my schedule each week to do free sample sessions with folks—take me up on it! This time next week, you could be feeling a lot more at peace. And you deserve that. =)

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