Let’s Not Do All the Things

I delegate to avoid over stress and it starts with asking questions. When I was growing up there was a wonderful couple that our family befriended at church. They exercised Elizabeth Ann Seton’s philosophy, “To live simply so that others might simply live.” Taking this credo so much to heart that that they purchased some land in the Pennsylvania mountains and lived off of the land – no electricity, no running water. The Amish in the surrounding communities used to bring their children to visit the O’Hagan’s small farm to show them what “roughing it,” was like. And while this couple lived in a small cabin in the woods, that they had built with their own hands, they still found time to welcome friends and share their experiences with others. 

As a young woman I would write them letters with whatever challenge I was facing. I relied on them and their advice to guide me to the best choices. One challenge that I found particularly difficult was that of feeling overwhelmed. I felt conflicted and challenged by family obligations, work expectations, and school. I was working full time, earning my Master’s degree, and attempting to make my own path in a new city. Writing to Daniel and Marcia I asked, “How do I do all of these things all at once? What am I missing?” Their advice, like their lifestyle, was quite simple. There were three touchpoints to their guidance. 

  1. What things are necessary? 
  2. What things are necessary but can be done by someone else?
  3. What things are necessary but only you can do? 

These three simple questions not only helped put all of my to-do items into perspective. It also very quickly put them into order. Because that which is not necessary very quickly falls away. This immediately makes the scope of work smaller.

Second, that which you can delegate must be given away. We often don’t want to let go of control. We believe ourselves to be the best and only person for every job. However, if you can let someone else do it then you must. If only because you are unable to move forward if you are holding on to everyone else’s responsibilities. You are limiting yourself and the people in your life by not trusting them. Delegating allows others the opportunity to rise to the occasion. Let go of the things that other people can do so that you have the space, time, and energy to do the work that is necessary and only you are capable of doing.

And finally third, that which only you can do is on your list. After following steps one and two you’ll find this list is incredibly short. It’s surprising to consider only the things that you yourself are able to do. The things that rise to the top of the list are much more important than anything on lists one and two anyway. They are things like – love your family, show up for your friends birthday party, and have the difficult but necessary conversation with a loved one. 

These big tasks quickly fall to the bottom when we are bogged down by tasks that are not ours to handle. Once we let go of the unnecessary we suddenly have time for the things that really matter – our relationships, our selves, and life. Only I can live my life and only you can live yours. Let’s not do all the things. Instead let’s focus on what important things are ours to do and what we can forget or delegate

Release Responsibility + Control

Spring is in bloom here in Ohio and I am experiencing a creative reawakening. It is a conscious remembering that what we ask for the universe provides. We are showing up in new ways, refreshed and transformed. Making space for those activities that bring me joy and that inspire me. I am no longer available for those activities that drain my energy or leave me feeling unfulfilled. There is a natural resurgence of energy as if spring demands a release of responsibility and control.

To show up authentically we release all of those things we do not need. We are born naked, what can we take off? What do we no longer need to bear the burden of carrying? I have found in life that it is incredibly easy to take on things that are not my own. We collect obligations, tasks, work, and labor. I have held onto many things out of a false sense of responsibility. A desire to fix what is not mine to repair.

I once received a powerful bit of advice from a stranger in passing. She said, “Love is not meant to be held or given, it is meant to flow through us.” In this way all energy and emotion should pass through our lives. The goal is to be porous like sponges, able to absorb only that which is intended for us and release the rest. This allows everything not meant for us to pass quickly without lingering. Another way to think of this message, “those mountains you are carrying, you were only meant to climb.” 

Author Anne Lamott asks, “What is help if not the sunny side of control?” Releasing control is the greatest gift we can offer to ourselves and others. To release control we remember that our value is not tied to our productivity or performance. We all have intrinsic value. When we purge all of the things that are no longer ours we make space for the relationships, experiences, and gifts that we are intended to receive. We trust that that which is meant for us will come to us. We need not be responsible for more than our fair share of work or duty. Our value is not tied to our labor or our misplaced obligations to fix, repair, or care for others. 

We are here to create and give the best of ourselves to the world. As we create our own paths, let use put down the mountains we have carried. Let us climb them instead and leave all of the extra weight that rightfully belongs to other people for them to manage. This spring we are no longer bearing the burden of someone else’s mistakes or issues. Each of us is free to manifest our own destiny, no longer encumbered by the burden of false responsibility or control. We are free. 

Doesn’t the relief feel incredible?