Just do the Bare Minimum

No seriously, I mean it.

Full permission to do only what needs to be done right now. The less the better.

If you’re bursting with energy and ambition and excited to tackle all your goals, then great, get after it! You do you. But if not, if right now you, like so many of us, are languishing after a really hard year, then it’s time to scale way way back and focus simply on the one or two things that are most important.

As always, I’m speaking from experience. Some time last week, it became clear to me that I would “fail” to meet virtually all of the goals I set out for myself this month. I wasn’t sleeping, I was exhausted, and my whole body just felt off. I couldn’t get myself to focus on anything aside from being present with my clients in their sessions and responding to what felt like an overwhelming number of emails. I just didn’t have any more in me, and so nothing was getting done. Trigger the shame spiral of What’s wrong with me? Why am I so ineffective? What happened to all that good momentum I created last month? You get the idea.

A good friend and I meet via Zoom each month to discuss our goals, then follow up weekly with our progress and challenges, as well as what’s next for the week ahead. It’s been an amazing practice to do this together, and a lot of good has come out of it, but this also means that I can’t just tuck my unmet goals under the rug and pretend I don’t see them. I have to face them down at the end of the month and, worst of all, share with another human that I simply didn’t accomplish everything I set out to do.

So this past weekend, when I sat down to look at my goals for the month and make a plan for this week, the urge was strong to say oh, I’ll just do everything that’s left on my list. That’s what makes sense! Even though I’m exhausted and overwhelmed, I’ll just put my head down, power through, and attempt to complete everything I said I would this month. It’s the kind of thing I’ve done to myself in the past, completely setting myself up for failure, knowing all the while I was doing it, but not knowing how to simply give myself permission to relax and let up when I needed to.

I am struggling right now, and there is no room for anything extra. Sometimes it’s like that.

Fighting that reality only makes things harder on ourselves. This, of course, is the type of wisdom and generosity I always have for my clients or friends when they are struggling and being hard on themselves, but it’s harder to bring that compassion to myself when I’m dealing with my own challenges.

So this week I took my own advice and scaled way back. I threw out all of those ideas a much more energetic version of me committed to back in early April, and focused only on what I knew was most needed. My goals were simple, and focused on what I needed to build my strength and energy back up (and hopefully sleep through the night) so that I could start fresh in May.

Success this week looks like getting outside to move every morning, doing my blood sugar cleanse, and sharing my coaching newsletter. That’s it. No bells and whistles. Just three things that move the needle forward on my health, my mental health, and my work. When I settled on these three things, I felt my whole body relax. Yes, this is what’s most important. I’ll start here.

And if I could have picked only one goal to focus on, it would have been the morning time outside. Hands down. Each time I forget how important this is and begin to neglect it (which is often), I suffer. My energy suffers, my productivity suffers, my mental health suffers. It’s simple and obvious, and oh so easy to forget. When I get outside in the morning, breathe in the fresh spring air and get my body moving, I am a better version of myself. It’s that simple.

And that better version of me can blow through to-dos like nobody’s business. So, if I’m really committed to my goals, the most important thing I can do is to make sure she’s the one driving the bus.

So, a challenge: What are a few things that you can let go of right now? That you can move off of your plate until a later point? And what’s the one thing that, when you do it, makes everything else easier? It’s time to make that thing your top priority.

On that note, off I go for my final morning walk of the week!

Karen

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