15 Actionable Ways to Stop Living the “Have to” Life

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It’s a brand new decade, friends, and it’s high time we stop living the “have to” life. We are so accustomed to living our lives in the fast lanes, barreling down a ten-lane freeway at hyper speeds that we are ragged and over-cooked beyond belief.

As a society, we live in a culture of constant inundation from all angles: family, social media, kids, marketing, and our own personal wants and needs. The people we look to for entertainment are also selling us stuff on the Internet. Your kids (and the various clubs, schools, and sports they’re involved in) are sucking your time and energy. We laughed when people were talking about YOLO and FOMO, but honestly, it’s only gotten worse.

For every season there is a bucket list. And for every bucket list, there is an influencer telling you that you have to” go to some activity. While at that activity, there’s a local business offering something at a discount that day so you have to” buy it right now. And you have to” take all the photos so you can Instagram them later. Can you feel the pressure mounting? Because I’m 10 feet underground just giving it a moment of ponder.

The amount of brain energy it takes to keep up in this have to” culture is unlike anything else our parents or grandparents ever had to deal with. Don’t want to be sold to? Just turn off the radio. Need to avoid an atrocious blind date? Claim you’re washing your hair that night. Simpler times seem so much more magical.

If you’re like me and ready to stop living this “have to” life, here is a handy list of actionable items to make steps towards living a life free from a “have to” mindset:

Technology

  1. Unsubscribe from email lists. You didn’t need anything from Old Navy when they sent a coupon yesterday, and you still don’t need it today.
  2. Turn off notifications on your phone. Seeing those little boxes pop up with likes, adds, and comments all day only makes it harder to take a break from those apps.
  3. Unfollow people who stress you out. I’ll be the first to admit I have unfollowed friends and family from social media because the frequency and content of their posts are just too much for me. I don’t like being inundated with hourly updates, so I simply unfollow and check in every once in a while.
  4. Don’t document every. Single. Thing. There’s no trophy for photographing the most plates of pancakes in a month (is there?), so chill out and enjoy your flapjacks.
  5. Leave the phone in your purse while taking part in an activity. Take the time to enjoy what you’re doing without the worry of receiving messages or calls.

Family

  1. Sign your kid up for one activity at a time. It’s been shown that kids need more down time than we’re currently allowing them to have. Plus, you’ll save on time driving between activities and have some extra down time.
  2. Be honest about your limitations. No one can do it all. Ask for help if you need it and avoid volunteering for more work if you feel burdened.
  3. Don’t be afraid to speak up to your family, even if it ruffles a few feathers.
  4. Incorporate down time into your day. Set aside time to do something you find relaxing or enjoyable, even if it’s only 30 minutes.
  5. Plan to have dinner together every night. Sitting together over a meal is one of the most rejuvenating things you can do. Take the time to pause life, put away your phones, and enjoy each other’s company.

Personal

  1. No more bucket lists. New seasons shouldn’t be the start of a new task list.
  2. Try not to compare yourself to others.
  3. Be okay with doing nothing. If you’re staring down a weekend without plans, embrace the simplicity and use the time to recharge.
  4. Put boundaries in place and adhere to them. It’s important to know where your limits are socially, emotionally, and personally. Oftentimes, saying no can be just as important to filling your cup as saying yes.
  5. Don’t participate in things you don’t like to do. Just because you’re invited to do something doesn’t mean you have to go.

You’re probably thinking, Oh great, just more things I “have to” do to! In reality, it’s quite the opposite where you can choose one or two things that makes sense in your life. Freeing up some of the notion that we “have to” do everything will allow more space for free time and calmer thinking. By implementing even some of these simple actions, you can stop living a “have to” life and begin living a “want to” life.

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