Should or Must?

We are constantly, moment by moment, being bombarded with decisions to make. Should I do that? What will happen if I say yes? What will happen if I say no? If I am direct, will he walk away? If I say what is on my mind, will I piss her off? What will my team think? I can completely understand what happens to folks when they fall into decision anxiety. Every once in a while my brain is completely fried and I have had a day of making decisions and I will say to Chris: “I am not making any decisions tonight, or this weekend.” He loves it (not really). Each decision tends to be either an easy one, or it is full of questions. Should I? Must I?

I just came across this article on medium.com titled: “The Crossroads of Should and Must.” It is quite lengthy for those of you with ADD, but so worth it. There are even sketches to help you along.

“Must is who we are, what we believe, and what we do when we are alone with our truest, most authentic self. It’s our instincts, our cravings and longings, the things and places and ideas we burn for, the intuition that swells up from somewhere deep inside of us. Must is what happens when we stop conforming to other people’s ideals and start connecting to our own. Because when we choose Must, we are no longer looking for inspiration out there. Instead, we are listening to our calling from within, from some luminous, mysterious place.”

I love this idea of “must” being who we are to the fullest. Our core. How often and how easy it can be to succumb to someone else’s opinion. The friend that tells you that he is just not that into you. The colleague that tells you what you are trying to accomplish is not possible. The family member that is scared to see you take the risk. There have been many “musts” in my life and I felt them to my core. They were decisions that upon all rationality those watching would have thought I was crazy, but it was the exact decision I needed to make.

As we embark on 2015, I am going to think more about my decisions and how I feel about should vs. must. Join me?

Say no to 1,000 things

Everything in the universe at this moment is telling me that my biggest lesson in life is about saying “NO.” Each day I find an article, read a book, have a conversation that reiterates the ongoing dilemma I have with life. What can I truly handle? Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Yes, and no. It really depends. I do know that I need to figure out a way to scale back. Part of that means that I have to say “No” more and more and more. How does one do that when your modus operandi is to help others, solve problems, and to try to make the world a better place one day at a time?

I wanted to share a few of the ideas that have been bombarding my thoughts these last few days. I came across this Steve Jobs quote:

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

If I could truly do what Jobs said, maybe I could have a fraction of the success he had in life. It has become a common theme for me these past few weeks and months to figure out how to scale back at work and at home and yet life feels like it is a treadmill on the highest speed, and sometimes at the highest incline. At times it feels like the buttons are inoperable and I am not able to adjust to the appropriate speed, so it means running crazy fast and then wondering how long I can sustain the speed.

There was this Fast Company article called: “The Exact Amount of Time You Should Work Every Day” that shared this idea:

Make Realistic To-Do Lists: “We often bog down our to-do lists and make them not feasible for us to accomplish [plus] we underestimate how long it’s going to take us to do something,” says Sexton.

Prioritize tasks. Choose three major tasks to focus on for the day and add other tasks as they pop up throughout the day to a separate list, readjusting your priorities throughout the day if required. It’s a lot easier to look at a list of three tasks than 30. Once you knock off the first three items, choose your next three priorities from your lengthier list.

I do not feel like I have a problem with To-Do Lists, tracking what I need to do, or prioritizing my tasks. I feel it is having too much happening at once. Too many projects to track on, too many deliverables, and not enough time or bandwidth to execute or strategize on how to make it all happen.

How have you learned to say, “No?” Teach me. I want to learn. I want to know what has worked for you.