Do you have a long list of things you have to do that never feels like it gets any shorter? Do you arrive at the end of the day exhausted and wonder what you achieved? If this sounds familiar, I want to invite you to try little experiment that may help you feel differently and maybe more energized as you approach today’s list.
Think of the first task on your list and reflect for a few seconds about how you feel when you imagine doing this. Are you a little nervous because you haven’t done it before, are you excited because it something you enjoy, do you feel weighed down by the responsibility or numbed by the repetitiveness?
What thoughts do you have about it? Are you thinking you want to get it out of the way as quickly as possible, are you thinking about ways to improve it or how it should be someone else’s job? Do these thoughts give rise to any anger, resentment or weariness?
Just be aware for another moment of your thoughts and feelings about this task.
Then, change one word. Instead of saying to yourself “Today I have to do xxxxx” say, “Today I get to do xxxx’. Its just one word, try it out. Did anything shift for you? Knowing that there are no real “have to’s” only things we “choose to do” can be empowering and energizing and this can make a big difference in how we feel about things.
If you don’t feel any different, consider for a moment how that task got onto your list in the first place? Who put it there?
You may feel like other people put things on your list, but the truth is you make a choice every time you add something. It may not seem like it, so let’s take an example like laundry.
If laundry is on your list then ask yourself why it is there. You will probably say something like “We all need clean clothes”. Why do we need clean clothes? Duh, otherwise we would smell bad and look dirty and crumpled like we had no home or couldn’t take care of ourselves. Why would this matter? Because of how we would feel and what other people would think of us and we may even lose a job or friends.
In this example you can see you are choosing to do your laundry because you have decided you don’t want the consequence of not doing your laundry. You always have a choice; you just might not always recognize it.
Not only are you actively choosing to do your laundry, but you also have the facility to clean your clothes and reap the benefits of this (feeling fresh, looking tidy, keeping friends etc.). Think for a moment about everything that is required to do laundry. I expect a large proportion of people reading this will live in a home with access to running water. Someone built that home with the plumbing and electricity needed to provide hot water and if you are lucky, space for a washing machine and maybe even a drier that someone designed and someone else manufactured. Hopefully you also have a way to get to the store and buy the detergent that somebody made for you, somebody else transported for you and somebody else put on a shelf ready for when you wanted it.
You also have the ability to move around and gather together the dirty clothes and have sufficient understanding of how to sort the loads and operate the machine to achieve beautiful clean and fresh smelling clothes for you to enjoy in the future.
When I think about how many people have been involved in helping me get my clothes clean, I can’t help but feel grateful and connected to people I will never even meet and I am so glad that Yes, today I Get to do laundry”.
I hope you can revisit the things on your list and find yourself smiling a little more and feeling a little lighter as you tick them off today.
And remember, you are the one who has the power to put things onto that list and take them off if you change your mind.