Last week I wrote about having to let go of things I loved doing so I could create time and space for more writing. And in the past I’ve written about “have to” versus “get to”. But this is an ongoing challenge for me, so I want to come at it from a little bit of a different angle.
If I’m starting to feel resentful, that’s a sign that it’s time to do a Fun Test and check the Blech Scale (both very scientific methods, of course.)
So how do you really know when you don’t want to do something anymore?
The Fun Test
Basically, I look at all of the things I’m doing—from exercise to grocery shopping to cooking to cleaning to writing, reading and career activities and evaluate how much I enjoy each of them. There are a lot of things I do that I really enjoy, including grocery shopping and cooking (when I make time and don’t feel obligated). I also love and protect my exercise time.
Similar to determining when to let a story idea go, I applied the following test to each activity/task:
How will I feel if I’m not doing this?
If I will feel relieved or happy, that’s a pretty good indicator that I can let it go. But what if you feel obligated? That is moving into Blechville.
I think I’ve mentioned in the past that Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D., author of Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, believes that “should” is a violent word, having “enormous power to create shame and guilt” and that, because it implies we have no choice, any activity we do out of obligation has no joy—for us or the others involved.
Let’s go for the choices and go for the joy!
Are you spending time with people you don’t care for or who don’t lift you up? Are you attending meetings or joining committees out of obligation? When you think of something you are doing, give yourself a second to see how you feel about it. And how you would feel if you were no longer doing it. That may be enough for you to answer the question: Do You REALLY want to keep doing that?
But if you feel you can’t let it go, apply the blech scale.
Applying the Blech Scale
So let’s say you don’t feel you can step down from that committee, or you really need to write those blog posts (P.S. “Need” can be a relative of “should,” depending on the motivation and feelings behind it) . Then be honest about where that falls on the Blech Scale:
If I’m at a 5 or above, there’s a very good chance the activity or task is affecting my health—physical, mental, emotional, spiritual—usually all of them. So that means I need to look at why I’m doing it, if it’s really worth it and if I truly believe I need to stick it out, creating a deadline for making a change and holding myself to it.
Determining the Balance
If you have one or two things that are pretty high on the Blech Scale, how much of your time is taken up with them? If it’s more than 50% of your days, I would encourage you to really, really look at how you can make changes that support you as a happy, healthy human.
Making changes could mean pissing some people off who are used to you doing certain things. They also may say things to trigger guilt in you. If this happens, hold strong! As you embrace your change and become happier, that happiness will spill over to others. And if they can’t take it, it may be time to surround yourself with other peeps.
Or they may surprise you and be encouraged and inspired by your choices and make changes themselves. That’s awesome!
Happy Fun and Blech Testing…