Why I continue doing the subtraction project with you

As we got into 2017 I was feeling a lack of ease. I had a lot of things on my plate and was feeling overwhelmed and uninspired. How could I have so much to do and not really WANT to do any of it? That sense of malaise was seeping into so much of what I truly loved doing and I knew that I needed to subtract something.

I turned to my old friend the list (if you’re new to listing can I recommend my friend Paula — she’s a LIST MAVEN).

  1. I made a list of all the things that I was trying to fit into my week, sometimes people get hung up here because you might just look at a day but really it’s the reflection on a full week that will give you a better picture of what needs to go.
  2. Next I highlight the items that are a MUST. This includes stuff like time being a Mom to the kids I love so much, being a wife to my husband, and my meditation practice (which I’m really intent to nurture this year).
  3. Next I go through the list and identify the items that I tend to procrastinate on or feel like I’m generally not keeping up with and I put a little star next to them because these are the items that I likely need to re-work.
  4. What items haven’t been touched? Decide if they need to be in and highlight them like step 2 or if they need some more consideration like the stars in step 3.
  5. Now the hard part. For the items that have a star it’s time to evaluate them to figure out what’s going on here. There are a few questions I ask myself:

Is there something easy (like a 2% improvement) that would make doing that thing less groan-worthy? If there is I put a note of what that would look like and highlight it.

Do I have to do this? If not, what would stopping look like? Would I need to let anyone know? Is there a consequence? Can I delegate it? The goal here is to come to a place where you can cross off a few items here. If you’ve gotten through the first 4 steps it’s likely you need to cross off AT LEAST 4 items. Now you don’t have to stop doing these things FOREVER. You can subtract them from March, or until Spring, or you can re-evaluate in a week.

Here’s the truth: If you’re not going to do something, or if you’re doing something with great dread, or you’re half doing it than you’re not doing anyone any favor by keeping it on your list. You can cross that off. Feel the weight of that subtraction lift off your list and your shoulders.

When I did this exercise I realized I was feeling really drained by one particular project. It was all my own doing. There was no one to let know. I simply needed to give myself the permission to subtract it from THIS season. It will be there if I want to pick it up in a month or two if I want to or not.

The real gift in the subtraction is that it makes room for what you want most (or at least more). I wasn’t surprised when 2 weeks after I had crossed off that item on my weekly to do list that a burst of creative energy flowed in and revealed a new project that I’m SO excited to work on.

Making room for the pieces that you want to come into your life.

That excitement? It carries over into EVERY SINGLE OTHER THING on my list. It’s the spark that lights the fire. It’s the momentum that carries through to all of our actions.

We have this vision that our lives are like puzzles we’re trying to figure out. That there’s just one piece for each spot and that’s just not true. There are lots of pieces that can fit in your puzzle. They just can’t all fit in at one time.

So while Subtraction can feel a little scary, what if that thing you need to subtract is taking up the space for something really exciting? Make room. You’ll be so surprised by the speed in which something flows into your life.

Like this? Join me for the March Subtraction Project — every day in March you’ll get an email message with an actionable subtraction that will take you no more than 10 minutes and help free you from what isn’t working making room for what you want most. It’s free so give it a shot, take what works for you, leave the rest.

Originally published at medium.com