I’m lying on the couch thinking about how I should get up and clean the kitchen. I don’t want to. I’m exhausted. It’s been a long week and I just don’t have any energy left. I don’t want to do it.
What do you think the chances are I actually get up and do it?
The moment I think I “should” do something or I “have” to do something, the chances of me doing it go down pretty drastically. Why? Because those thoughts don’t create feelings that drive the actions I need to take.
But Mindy, there are things I “have” to do. I can’t just not do them.
Actually, you don’t have to do them. You don’t have to clean the house. You don’t have to take care of your kids. You don’t have to go to work. You don’t have to go to that party. You don’t have to mow the lawn. You don’t have to go to church. You don’t have to finish your assignment. These are all options. And once you truly recognize that, your world will become a completely different place.
I no longer do things I don’t want to do. So what do I do instead?
First, I write a list of everything I “have” to do and everything I think I “should” do. At this point I have 3 options:
I can hire someone to clean my kitchen. I can pay my kids to clean my kitchen. I can bribe my kids to clean my kitchen. I can trade something for someone to clean my kitchen. I can force my kids to clean my kitchen. I can beg my husband to clean my kitchen. There are lots of options here.
I can just leave the kitchen messy. The world is not going to end if my kitchen isn’t clean. Sometimes we just need to let things go. This is especially relevant if you’re a perfectionist. B minus work is usually good enough (we’ll have to do a whole separate post on that).
Decide you actually WANT to do it. I love a clean house. I like how I feel when it’s clean. When I think about the end result and how I’m going to feel when it’s done, I can come at the task from a place of WANT rather than HAVE or SHOULD. If my thought is “oooh, I’m going to get up and clean the kitchen so I can enjoy it for the rest of the weekend,” that makes me feel excited. When I feel excited I jump up and clean with positive attitude. I get it done quickly and I get to enjoy the clean kitchen.
Another hot tip for these kinds of decisions, always make sure you like your reasons for doing something. Let’s say my brother asks me for a favor and I really don’t want to do it. My first thought will almost certainly include a “should.” I should help him. I should be a good sister. I should want to help him (I’m starting to beat myself up on this one).
If you choose Delegate, why are you delegating it? Do you like your reason? If you choose Ditch, why are you ditching it? Do you like your reason? If you choose Decide, why are you deciding to want it? Do you like your reason?
If I go ahead and help my brother, even though I don’t want to, I’m likely to build some resentment. So I’m helping my brother because I value our relationship but in the process I’m hurting that relationship.
Alternatively, I may decide that, even though I may not be excited about this specific thing, I love my brother. I want to support him and be there for him. If my reason for doing it is love, I like my reason. And when I focus on that, I really do WANT to do it.
If I decide I want to do it so I won’t feel guilty, I don’t really like my reason.
I hear so many moms talk about how they “have” to do things for their kids. Each time they do this, they build up a little resentment towards their kids. In reality, most of them really do want to take care of their kids. But because they aren’t managing their minds and thinking about it in this way, they are actually damaging those relationships rather than building them.
Try it this week. Don’t do anything you don’t want to do. Let me know how it goes.