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To say that our plates are full would be an understatement. The reality of contemporary living requires our attention and efforts to be divided between demanding jobs, essential familial caregiving, replenishing social gatherings, and fulfilling political and community engagements — not to mention any hobbies or creative endeavours. According to Pew Research Center surveys, 60 percent of adults said they were sometimes too busy to enjoy life. Busy-ness, unsurprisingly, intensifies once you have kids: 74 percent of parents with children under the age of 18 reported being too busy to enjoy life.
The myth of perfectionism keeps many in a cycle of feeding into external pressures: the illusion of “having it all,” gleaning self-worth from the validation of others. Of course, it is worthy and noble to be passionate about people and causes you care about. It’s also easy to fall into the trap of attempting too much in the pursuit of trying to have it all.
Instead of being everything to everyone and everything all the time, what would life look like if you cared a little less? What if we aim for good enough?
Much of our desire to take on extra tasks and responsibilities comes from a sense of obligation to others, experts agree, but even that can be self-directed. Seventy-five percent of the time, the guilt is coming from inside the house. You are making it up in your own head.
Before making a decision about whether to care a little less or to turn down a favor that’s asked of you, you need to ask yourself whether saying no would have a negative effect or comes from a mean-spirited place
Caring less doesn’t mean negligence. To care less about inconsequential matters, you need to zero in on what is worth caring for. Consider taking stock of to-do list items and obligations and asking if these responsibilities make your day feel more spacious or more confined. Does it nourish your sense of creativity? Is it the best use of your time and talent? Does it make you feel exhausted? Do you want to spend your time and energy on this?
If you feel compelled to care about something out of fear or wanting to be accepted by others, it may not be worth placing emphasis on it.
Just because you excel at something — be it creating detailed spreadsheets or making complicated desserts for dinner parties — doesn’t mean you have to agree to it every time you’re asked or volunteer to do it to impress others.
Being subtly pressured to do something you are good at is a common mistake as we don't want to disappoint people. The truth is you need to let people know you are not okay with something.
In the thick of the daily grind, minute conflicts can often get blown out of proportion: Your kid didn’t do the dishes when you asked, you were 10 minutes late to a doctor’s appointment, a friend forgot she was supposed to bring snacks to game night. People are quick to ascribe meaning to these ordinary events — jumping to conclusions and thinking a friend is inconsiderate, say, by not answering your phone call in the middle of a workday. If you pause and take a step back, none of these things actually have a profound bearing on your life.
Many people’s values and self-worth are intrinsically tied to their jobs. But if you zoom out and consider who you are outside of your job, you may realize other areas of life where you might be lacking, like spending quality time with family or practising art or music — parts of life you decided you want to prioritize.
When you’re constantly stressed and in a fight-or-flight state of mind, finding this perspective is difficult.
You need to prioritize rest and centring yourself, which looks different for everyone: meditation, taking a walk, no email before bed.
Once you’ve defined what is and isn’t worth your time, you’ve got to set, and express, boundaries. Boundary-setting can seem like an amorphous buzzword, but it isn’t as simple as learning how to say no. Boundary-setting is outlining what you need and what is important to you and protecting those desires. This can be as simple as writing a list of things that make you happy (reading, going to the gym, cooking, a life with minimal stress), allow you to earn a living (your job), and other areas of importance (friends, family, getting a good night’s sleep).
If we really sit down and think about it for five minutes, they’re going to realize the biggest, unwanted drain on their time, energy, and money, It could be a relationship in our life — it could be a parent, it could be a friend, someone we are dating — and that the boundary that we need to set to preserve our time, energy, money, sanity, mental health, is to fence that person outside of all of that basically.
Time is finite and shouldn’t be dictated by others or how you believe others perceive you. Caring a little less means you’re saving time and energy for the things that matter
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