You HAVE to Do It or Do You

There’s just so much stuff you HAVE to do in life.  You have to go to work.  You have to make dinner and clean yours house.  You absolutely have to do your taxes each year.

But do you really?

Are you a victim of a massive list of must-do items . . . or are you unconsciously choosing to do those things?  Your to-do list may actually be a reflection of your priorities and goals.  If you look at each item on your list as something moving you one step closer to your goals — financial health, family relationships, a welcoming home, pursuit of your career dreams — you’re no longer a slave to your list.

You’re the master.

But what if your must-do list is out-of-whack with your goals?  Then it’s time to consider some alternatives!  Realign your life with your priorities.  What’s right for someone else may be totally wrong for you.  Reserve judgment, and ask yourself whether these common have-to tasks are activities you want to do or activities you’re prepared to change.

Make the bed.

Maybe I’m weird, but I’ve always felt the need to make my bed.  For me, an unkempt bed makes an otherwise immaculate room look totally disheveled . . . and it stresses me out.  I love being able to sit on the smooth cover of a made bed to read or watch T.V. without getting tangled in a messy pile of sheets.  The time commitment is outweighed by the subsequent satisfying feeling.

. . . but maybe that’s not you at all!

Alternatives

Prepare meals.

It’s important to me that my family doesn’t eat garbage and that we have meals that we enjoy.  In general, I find it both relaxing and gratifying to prepare meals at home.  Plus — whether because I’m used to my own cooking or I grew up eating tasty, well-prepared food — I almost always prefer homemade food over the frozen aisle, takeout, or overcooked pasta in watery sauce from the pizza place.

But that’s just me!  Do you have to make dinner?  Go food shopping?  Prepare your kids’ lunches for school the night before?  Not really!

Alternatives

Chauffeur your kids everywhere.

Are you constantly driving your kids and their friends?  School drop-off and pick-up, sports practice, music lessons, art or dance lessons, kids’ birthday parties, play dates, field trips, outings to the park or the zoo . . . the list never ends.  Maybe you feel as though you spend more time looking in the rearview mirror at your kid’s face than you do looking at him head-on.

Alternatives

Manage your finances.

I’m a mathematician, so I like numbers . . . and I trust my ability to pay bills, balance the checkbook, handle investments, file taxes, and allocate retirement savings.

Plenty of folks are not numbers people!  Lots of you would rather visit the dentist than deal with tax forms.  Feel free to admit if you’re not mathematically gifted or too disorganized to juggle your accounts and ensure that all of your bills are paid on time.

Alternatives

Buy gifts.

Do you dread the mania of holiday shopping or the last-minute gift run for the friend’s party your kid just remembered?  Is your gift list depressingly huge?  Maybe you put the effort into making or buying someone special gifts but you never get a positive response.  Try something different.

Alternatives

Your priorities are your own.  Don’t feel guilted into saving money on food costs if you just moved or had a baby.  Don’t think you need to perfect your home organization system rather than spend quality time with your family.

Decide on your goals.  Choose activities that align with those goals, and give yourself a break with the rest.

What must-do item are you willing to give up to focus on what really matters?

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