Think of how liberating it feels to wake up on a day off with the realization “there’s nothing I have to do today.” This is not an experience we should reserve for Saturday mornings, or the first day of vacation. It’s true every day of our lives.— David Kelley
Way back in 1996, I read an article by David Kelley entitled “I Don’t Have To,” but it’s only been, oh, the past week or so that I’ve really internalized his message (yes, I’m slow to catch on sometimes…). Kelley’s main point is that by conceptualizing tasks as things we “have to do” rather than as things we want to do (because they align with our values and long-term goals), we become overwhelmed by a long list of “things to do” that are divorced from our reasons for doing them. And I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately — but more from the perspective, I guess, of all the things I don’t have to do. It wasn’t until re-reading Kelley’s article this evening that I was able to see WHY I don’t have to do them: they don’t fulfill any higher purpose or align in any way with the values I hold.
Last week, my sponsor told me I have three priorities:
- Staying sober.
- Making sure my kids are OK.
- Keeping my job.
Over the past week, I’ve been taking these rather seriously. There are dozens of emails and phone calls that remain unanswered tonight — and they will remain unanswered, as the people who wrote or called have no interest in my well-being or my sobriety. There are concerts to which I’ve bought tickets — spending a considerable amount of money — that I won’t attend, since there’s no real reason to do so, other than I’m “supposed to” be there. I have no obligation to anyone other than myself and my children, and I’m going to keep it that way for some time. And so I’m sure it may sound harsh, but not really; the people who are adding to my life and supporting my priorities are pretty much the only ones who have stuck through this with me this far already. Everyone else comes and goes, emails and calls, pops up and disappears, according to their own whims, needs, and desires. And you know what? There’s no day like today to come out and say, I don’t have to answer to them.