Doing What You Want - ONLY What You Want
I told a bunch of people recently that in the month of January I did only what I wanted to. For the whole month.
To tell the truth, I was a little nervous about what might happen because I have a secret fear that I'm lazy. What if I got through the whole month and never managed to wash a single dish or pay a single bill? If I removed the word ‘should’ from my vocabulary, would I end up living in frat house-like conditions with nothing to show for my time?
That didn’t happen.
What did happen is that I had a very nice month. I spent my time in ways that felt good, and I did accomplish things.
One errand I truly dislike is going to the Post Office. I have no idea why; the PO has never done anything to me and doesn’t really deserve my hostility, but there it is.
In January I had a package that needed mailing. It was packed and labeled and ready to go, but I didn’t want to do it. Every morning I’d look at that box and asked myself ‘Do I want to go to the Post Office?’ The answer? ‘Nope!’
And then I’d forget about it.
And that right there was the magic of this experiment. I decided what I wanted to do and did it. No second-guessing, no judging, no shoulding, no guilt. A no was just as good as a yes.
On the fourth or fifth day of January I looked at that box and thought ‘I want to take that to the Post Office today. I’m ready to get it out of the house.’ And I did. No fuss, it was just time.
What would life be like if you never had to spend the day being mad at yourself for not doing that thing you're clearly not going to do?
I’m not talking about putting off those graduate school applications for the next seven years. I’m talking about deciding to let a task wait until its time. Without worry, without remorse.
I could easily have put off mailing that package for weeks – I’ve done that! But removing the should, the self-flagellation, the why-aren’t-you-better-more-efficient-more-productive audio reel in my head made it so much easier to just do the task. With peace in my heart!
January was an amazing month. I was happier and more relaxed than I’d been for a long time. And honestly, I was just as productive. It turns out I’m not lazy, I just spend a lot of time berating myself! Which is pretty much the opposite of productive.
I invite you to try this.
Not everyone has the latitude to choose what they do almost all of the time. I recognize that I’m in a privileged place. But we all have some ability to decide what we do and when we do it. I encourage you to knock the word ‘should’ off its pedestal and tuck it away in a cupboard.
You can always bring it back out if you miss it.
Also: Only The Clash should use the word should.