When is it time to let yourself off the hook?
I’m pretty disciplined. Once I agree to things, I usually make them happen. And if it means a commitment to someone else, then the likelihood of doing it doubles. Let’s just say I like to think of myself as a non-skiver.
This usually makes for a responsible and dependable person.
And other times it makes for an unnecessarily stressed and anxious person.
One of the biggest learnings for me is being able to tell the difference between real responsibility, commitment and duty, and self-imposed responsibility, commitment and duty.
The first, I believe, it necessary. And forgive me for waving a bit of a self-righteous flag above my haloed head, but I also think it provides a foundation for trust. We like to know what to expect of others, and equally, what is expected of us. We want to know that we are safe in someone’s hands and they’re going to follow through on their actions.
The second, I believe, is less clear.
In attempt to create a sense of structure and steadfastness in my world, I hold myself accountable to all sorts of rules and requirements.
I impose my own deadlines. I create my own boundaries. And as a way of trying to find a degree of order in an otherwise chaotic and potentially free-wheeling way of living, I decide on the way things ought to be done. Like Kevin Bacon’s character in Sleepers, “you gotta have rules and you gotta have discipline.”
Perhaps some of this is a way of creating uncertainty anchors. When life is feeling a little rocky and stress is at an all-time high, bringing in rituals and routines can be a wonderful way to make us feel safe. And as an Enneagram Type 7, I definitely need a degree of this to prevent myself drifting off into the deep beyond, follow-through forgotten in favour of fun.
But other times the self-imposed rules and restrictions are just that. Restrictions.
Upon closer scrutiny I can see that they aren’t really serving me, or anyone else. Instead of creating certainty, they’re causing stress. Instead of providing structure, they’re inducing overwhelm.
I’ve been forced to look at this topic over the past few weeks and really question my intentions. A particularly busy time, with 4 trips in less than 3 weeks and lots going on in-between, I found myself rather stretched.
And yet when I broke down the causes of stress, I noticed that some of them were based on my own set of rules and requirements. Writing an article, making changes to my website, creating a new workshop…all things that are great to do and ofcourse important to my business. But absolutely critical at this point in time? Definitely not. My to-do list was of my own making and yet was also making me anxious. Unnecessarily anxious.
My solve? Cull the list. Break it down into critical tasks and non-critical tasks. And anything that could wait until the busyness had settled, did indeed wait (including this post).
Not rocket science. Obvious, in fact. But something we all need a reminder of from time to time.