You Don’t Have To Do Anything

(picture by Andrew)

A couple of days ago, I was having a conversation with a reader I know.

I don’t know all of you, but I know some of you. Via comments, emails, the occasional coaching session. Sure, you may have more information about me, but don’t think for a second that I do not know you.

We know each other.

And I know what you are like. What your potential pit falls are. Because they’re mine too.

So, me and this reader.

Me and her were talking about all the shit we (think we) have to do.

How we force ourselves to do all these things. Because they’re good for us. And our lives. That means we HAVE to do them, right?

We HAVE to exercise and we CAN’T watch too much TV. We HAVE to eat healthy, and we CAN’T have too much sugar. We HAVE to be productive, we are NOT ALLOWED to waste time on frivolous or unfruitful things.

The list goes on.
And it’s good to do these things, sure. But not at the cost of your mental health, happiness or overall well-being.
NEVER at the cost of your soul.
And this CAN happen. We can get stuck in these have-to’s, forgetting why we (thought we) wanted to in the first place, and lose something important.

Our conversation reminded me of two things:

One, a favourite Danielle LaPorte quote from her blog and the Desire map.

“I worked with a TV producer once who prided herself on being disciplined. “I get up every morning at 5am to run,” she told me over dinner. “I hate it, but it needs to be done.”

And she went on to explain that for Lent, she gave up swearing and hadn’t cussed in four years, (“Even though it would feel sooo good to just say the F word sometimes!”).

The following Lent, she swore off soda pop and hadn’t had so much as a sip for three years, (“Even though a Coke with these tacos would be grrreat!”)

“Well that sounds like a whole lotta of fucking fun.” I said to her. And I asked the waiter to bring me a Coke.

Here’s the thing: As hard-wired achievement-bots, many of us subscribe to systems of success that actually become blockages to our instincts.”

(If I can choose which one of these two women to be, I’ll take Coke ordering, cursing Danielle LaPorte any day of the week.)

And second, it reminded me of this old article of mine.

“The deepest part of you is something that doesn’t need to be altered. It’s from that place that you can grow or improve, sure, but that basic inner thing is perfect as it is.

I decided to go back to that. I had a week off and I decided to completely cut the whole “I have to”-sentence out of my vocabulary. I decided to not do anything about anything. Because actually, I don’t have to do anything.  I am my own self-assigned drill sergeant, and I fucking fired myself in that department.

Instead, I just did whatever I fucking pleased. (A+ 10/10 highly recommend)

I wrote this article while I was feeling like shit (worse than what I shared online during that time) and had done all the ‘I have to exercise/eat healthy/write/be grateful’-schpiels to death, and it did not help.

Because it was not what I needed at that time. It was not what my soul needed at the time.

Just like it was not what this reader needed right now. Not for me to tell her what to do, not for anyone else to tell her what to do and most importantly, not for herself to make herself do all these things.

I told her “you need to call in a period where you literally don’t have to do a-ny-thing. Not a thing. Just do whatever you fucking feel like.”

I believe you need to trust yourself, and that the moment all the things that you make yourself do make you severely unhappy, you need to stop. That feeling is a signal, and you should listen to it.

Your basic instinct is kicking in, trying to save your soul.

Trust yourself. The things you think you have to do are self imposed. Nobody is holding a gun to your head. Don’t make yourself adhere to all these rules (all the time) if they make you unhappy.

You don’t have to do anything. You can relax, go with the flow, just do whatever you fucking feel like. That’s good for the soul too, and we need to remember that.

And in these times where we just see productivity and discipline all around us, I thought you could use that reminder.

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  1. You lady, you are a fucking badass! Exactly my thoughts this evening, even had a nice discussion with a close friend of mine about it. Would love to have these kind of conversations with you, I don’t know why but it feels like you will be ready with some badass quotes which will blow my mind.

    Please never stop writing. Thank you.

  2. Helemaal raak!
    Volgens mij gaat het zo ver dat we soms helemaal niet doorhebben dat we in zoveel ‘moetens’ leven i.p.v. ‘willens’. Ik denk fst het lastigste is om daar eerst bewustzijn op te krijgen en t vervolgens om te zetten in Willen.

    We denken vaak dat we van alles moeten, van anderen en ‘de maatschappij’. Maar daarmee geef je de regie over je eigen leven uit handen, terwijl dat essentieel is voor een vrij leven.. + als je eenmaal los komt van de moetens, merk je vaak dat het helemaal geen moetens van anderen waren, maar van jezelf.

    Hoop dat het goed gaat intussen met je reader, en dat het heeft geholpen!

    Mooi stuk en mooi geschreven!

  3. Amen! This is so recognizable! It’s what have been making me feel quite down lately: all these things I ‘have’ to do feel so overwhelming. Sometimes I just need a little reminder that I only have to do what I want to do.

  4. Exactly this is the thing I have been discovering the last couple of years. Realising that I don’t HAVE to exercise three times a week because society expects so, and that I don’t HAVE to do social things every single night because all the ‘cool’ students do that as well. Hell, I HATED it and I felt insecure about it. I just wanted to binge watch Chuck or Walking Dead without people judging me. Why was this even an issue?! So ridiculous.
    This article is spot on for me right now while I’m in the middle of deciding to quit pharmacy and study something else (after seven (!) years of trying, three years into my master with one year to go). Yes, that sounds ridiculous, but switching feels right in every fibre of my body and I’m going to do it. BAM. 😀

    1. Omg GOOD FOR YOU – must have been a hard process to get to that point but if it’s right, it’s right. Good job. <3

  5. I never really comment on your blog (shame on me, I know), but I just wanted to say: you fucking rock. These are the inspirational articles I want/need to read!

  6. Same here, nog zo eentje die eigenlijk nooit gerangeerd maar wél leest en luistert (b-e-s-t podcast). This is what i’m talking about. Thanks for putting this in words.

  7. So true! In Nederland heerst ook echt een moet-cultuur. En hoe veel ik ook van to-do lijstjes houdt, soms raak ik echt de balans kwijt en voel ik me onwijs schuldig als ik een dag niks gedaan heb. Ik volgde ooit een curus Voluit Leven, met insteken van Mindfulness, waarin ik leerde dat wij als mensen vooral heel goed in onze ‘doe’-modus kunnen komen, maar veel minder goed in onze ‘zijn’-modus. Meditatie helpt om te ‘zijn’ ipv continu te denken aan wat nog allemaal moet. Sinds ik in Turkije woon gaat dat een stuk beter! Mensen plannen hier sowieso niet echt veel activiteiten. Een standaard werkweek duurt 6 dagen dus op zondag wil je ook gewoon niks moeten.

    Wanneer komt trouwens de nieuwe podcast online? Ik ken je eigenlijk vooral daar van en lees sinds kort ook je blog, ik waardeer je scherpe one-liners en heb echt dubbel gelegen om je verhaal over je Rome bezoek vorig jaar (ARE YOU ENTERTAINED? whaha) Enn een van jouw quotes was het startsein voor mijn eigen blog. Dus bedankt daarvoor, weer een extra bullet op mijn to-do-lijst 😉

    1. Haha hai Maartje! Podcast komt aankomende maandag/dinsdag online, we konden helaas pas 3 april weer opnemen!

      Wat leuk dat je m’n blog leuk vind en lol dat van Rome: En welke quote was het startsein? Zag ik zo snel niet op jouw blog! (Hehe en sorry ;-)!)

      1. Het was de blog over ‘If you want to find out you have to go in’. Beschrijft precies mijn emigratieproces:) Ik heb de titel gebruikt voor mijn allereerste blogpost. Leuk ik kijk uit naar de nieuwe podcast!

        Fijn weekend!

        PS het was natuurlijk ‘Are you NOT entertained’. Ik was enorm entertained haha

  8. Dit is iets wat meer mensen zouden moeten onthouden. Je hebt geen pistool tegen je hoofd. Tuurlijk, sommige dingen moeten, maar ze moeten niet altijd.

    1. Dat is ook een mooie manier om het te zeggen: “Ja, sommige dingen moeten, maar ze moeten niet altijd” 🙂

  9. Brilliant. Thanks for telling it like it is. I love this article.

    Live your life people! This is not dress rehearsal and time is seriously flying by.

    Besides, following your bliss is the path of least resistance, which is a great path to be on! 🙂

  10. So very true, I’ve been trying to rearrange my thoughts to if I don’t want to do something I am not or I will if I want to. Thanks