I’ve been grinding for what feels like my entire life – or at least my entire career. At this point, I’ve been writing and working as an editor for a little over a decade. I’ve always carried multiple jobs, whether waitressing while interning or freelancing while holding down a full time position. Saying yes has become my default answer for almost anything work-related.
And if I’m being honest, I’m a yes woman in my personal life, too. Becoming a mom in 2019 might have changed that a little, but not very much. And in some cases it made me more prone to comply with requests of friends and family than ever before, especially after the peak of the pandemic.
You see, parenting a toddler in isolation magnifies the absence of others’ influences. So once things started to get back to normal and my sister-in-law wanted to come over for pizza or my cousin wanted to catch up over the weekend, I felt like saying no would not only deprive the requester of my time, but my child of those experiences, too.
2022 might have been my busiest and most successful year to-date. But as the year came to a close, I found myself struggling to keep up my energy and pace. I thought maybe it was because my daughter was getting older and was more busy. Or maybe it was simply because I was getting older.
Read also: The Importance of Nervous System Regulation
Overachieving Starts Early
I’ve always overscheduled. Even as a kid I skipped my lunch period to take extra classes. I was booked with activities every day after school and took lessons on the weekends that required six AM wake ups and hour-long bus rides into New York City. Being busy was a part of who I was, so I didn’t easily accept the fact that I was in need of anything more than a little break.
But then the new year started to approach and with it came reminders of the need for resolutions. I never go too crazy with resolutions, but try to think of small attainable wins.
This year though, I was struck with a compulsion to do something big and kind of scary. One word kept coming to mind, and no matter how far down I tried to push it, it would just bubble back up.
That was the word. But how?
How could I say no to work opportunities?
Say no to social engagements?
Do less at home?
Would doing less make me a less successful parent or person?
But just as fast as those fears came to mind they started to float away. Not disappear, but a distance between those doubts formed and that space made room for new feelings. I started to feel less dependent on my to-do list.
And a sense of freedom and peace developed.
Fast forward a month or so into 2023, and suddenly I noticed I wasn’t alone in my resolution. Perhaps others weren’t committing to less as wholeheartedly as I’m attempting to do so, but TikToks of soft living and anti-side hustles were trending.
Even Marie Kondo made headlines for relinquishing her tidying up efforts now that she’s a mother of three. And the queen of more herself, Rihanna, made the statements of all statements at the 2023 Super Bowl by pulling off an epic performance that required zero costume changes, no supporting acts or co-stars and iconic, yet simple enough to execute dance moves. To me – and many other moms out there – she said it all by doing less.
Whether it’s work, family, friends or society – women carry the load. I’m not even going to say mental load, because it can physically get pretty heavy these days too. Maybe we’re conditioned to be that way. I just want to be aware and empowered enough to make the choice for myself. To decide to do less and be at peace with it.
Now, a few weeks into 2023, I’m not sure I’ll keep up my resolution all year, but I’m going to try.
My Year of Doing Less
Here are a few ways I’m cutting back on my have-tos, feel free to join me in doing the same.
- Taking on fewer freelance projects and working less over the weekend
- Worrying less about how tangled my daughter’s hair is all the time
- Caring less about missing my daughter’s dance and gymnastics classes some weeks because I’m tired
- Being less obsessed about sticking to a bedtime for my daughter
- Taking fewer meetings and letting calls go to voicemail and texts go unanswered until I feel present enough to answer them
- Committing to fewer personal engagements and leaving my weekend free for fun at home
- Eating less food delivery and drinking less wine during the week
- Buying less stuff I don’t need
- Arguing less on topics that my partner and I have already argued to death about and accepting we’re different people with different approaches
- Caring less about what people think. I know I’m doing my best and I can only control myself and what I put out into the world
Seriously, doing less isn’t easy. It just might be the most difficult personal challenge I’ve ever taken on. I just hope in doing less, I can find more value in the ways I spend my time.
Tell us what you think. What’s one thing you could do less of or care less about this year?