Overwhelm Busters: Permission NOT to…

There’s a short version and a long version of this post. I know many of us feel like we’re swimming in a sea of info overload and I don’t want to be adding to that. I often wish someone would give me the executive summary at the start of a blogpost – so if all you need is the short version, here it is:

The short version

Sometimes we need someone to give us permission to seriously consider NOT doing something. We’re more likely to give our friends great advice about letting things go, saying “no”, or opting out of a habit or situation which isn’t serving us well. It’s much harder to give that permission to ourselves. But if that’s what you need – consider this it! I give you permission to truly embrace the option of NOT doing something anymore. And then if you really want to, let it goooo (but if deciding what you want, or letting something go, is trickier than a tricky thing, scroll to the PS at the end for help)!

The long version

Many moons ago, when I was a 5th year clinical psychology student, my classmate/great buddy Jo and I decided we were going to need some serious R&R before hitting 6th year – our final year, which at that time was notoriously demanding.

So we did what all (ir)responsible poor students did back then, and booked a month-long trip to Fiji (just to be clear, I’m not recommending this as a sound financial plan folks). The idea was to stay in a kind-of fancy hotel for one night at the beginning and again at the end, with nothing organised in between – we were going to travel and stay as cheaply as possible, based on the recommendations of others we met along the way.

All very exciting, we planned and plotted for months. We could smell the frangipani all the way from The Percolator. Then, a short time before we left, I met Ros, who’s now my wife. Dilemma…what to do? Suddenly I didn’t want to be away for a month; it seemed like a very very long time. But I also didn’t want to let down my friend, waste money on flights we wouldn’t take, or miss out on something we’d been dreaming off. So Jo and I packed our bags, took three flights (one of which involved the worst turbulence I’ve ever experienced, necessitating all three people in my row to utilize those special paper bags provided, but that’s a story you don’t really need the details of) and landed in Nadi.

This trip was a big deal for Jo, who hadn’t been overseas before. I remember disembarking from the plane, being hit by a wall of humidity, and feeling stunned by all the tropical colors and extreme friendliness around us. We’d arrived in paradise. We went to the kind-of fancy hotel, dropped our bags, ate a whole lot of mango and went for a dip in the pool.

By the end of the day I was Totally. Freaking. Out. I was desperate to go home. I couldn’t imagine how I was going to cope with a whole month apart from this wonderful person who I’d just met. Also, I was sweating a whole lot more than I remembered and had a persistent feeling that I was about to faint (I’d never been to Fiji during January). Jo dragged me to the cocktail bar for happy hour, which was exactly what I wasn’t feeling. And over a Fiji Bitter she said to me “it’s fine, I understand. Give it a day and if you’re still feeling like this, we can go home.”

Now she must have been hoping against all hope that things would not go in that direction. She was overseas for the first time; there was NO WAY she wanted to leave. But she said it so kindly and so sincerely that she gave me permission to truly consider NOT carrying on with this trip. I imagined what it would be like to haul our bags back to the airport and get back on the plane, having never gone snorkelling, drunk kava or swanned around on the beaches.

And you know what? As soon as I had permission to choose another path, and I pictured what that would look like, I felt a whole lot better. I knew that I wanted to stay. The fact that I was allowed to think of leaving as a serious option really solidified things for me: it was ok to feel this way, I DID have a choice, and either option would be ok. And since then, similar scenarios have happened to me a number of times when I’ve been in a pickle.

Sometimes we have to give ourselves permission to really truly consider our options. Recognise our choices, explore them fully, and make the most of them. If there’s something you’re resenting, or so anxious about that you can’t make progress, or you’re questioning whether you should do it at all…..give yourself permission to fully consider NOT doing it. Imagine what that would mean, what steps you would take to stop, and what that would free you from. What would that really feel like?

Remember, there are so many situations in life where we do have the luxury of choice. Sometimes we feel trapped, and that may be a story we’re telling ourselves. So here and now, I’m giving you permission to really picture NOT doing something. Maybe it’s time to let something go, and drop the guilt along with it. Or maybe you’ll realise this is something you do want after all, in which case make the most of it.

The choice is yours! I’d love to know – what would you like permission to NOT do? Tell us in the comments below.


PS. If you’re swamped with too many things to do and can’t make traction on the really important stuff, help is on the way. We’re starting an Efficiency Queen Mastermind group in a few weeks time. This will include efficiency coaching in a group setting, networking and accountability with a bunch of amazing, caring, laughter-loving people, and the opportunity to get support to really live your potential, all rolled into one. There are both in-person (in Dunedin) and online options, so living in Outer Mongolia is not a barrier. We start in late August and have room for just three more people so if you’re interested, drop me a line ASAP: nicola@nibl.co.nz.

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