Your “Need to Do” vs. “Want to Do” Ratio
What percentage of your day is spent doing what you NEED to do versus what you WANT to do?
I would imagine it’s quite skewed – meaning we all have the daily drudgery that we must do – the laundry, dropping the kids at school, commuting to work, etc. and less of the fun, exciting things we WANT to do. If I had a total 100% want day, I’d do a cleansing hot yoga class, followed by a healthy delicious vegetarian lunch (made by someone else of course) and spend the afternoon getting spa treatments, listening to music and spending time with my besties and hubby.
But, the daily in and out grind can be a soulless, thankless experience making many of us resentful, stressed out or generally disenchanted with life. It can cause the body to be in low-level stress response repeatedly. Over time that stress can lead to inflammation of the body, stress eating, overall malaise and low immunity.
The reality is that few of us can have 100% want days. What is one to do about this imbalanced ratio? It’s quite the conundrum because it’s not as if we can just play hooky from life (or at least not with any consistency!). But, what if we were to shift our ratio of “need to do” vs. “want to do” even just a little bit? How do you think your overall demeanor would be? How would you show up differently in the world? Would your coping mechanisms for stress change? I’m making a bold suggestion that by just adding and shifting the ratio, we can be happier and more fulfilled people. When we’re fulfilled and are able to self-actualize and can be authentic in who we are and what gives us meaning, it’s a game changer. We can more aptly accept the slog and every day annoyances when we bring meaning into the mundane.
For instance, I absolutely hate doing dishes. It kinds makes me ill even thinking about it. And it’s one of those chores that never ends or gives you any reprieve – it’s every single day! But what lights me up and gives me pleasure is listening to music. Now, I put on my favorite Spotify mix while I’m doing dishes and just like that my “need to do” vs. “want to do” ratio has shifted, making the dishes more tolerable. There are many examples of ways to accomplish this. Does reading give you meaning? Try Audiobooks or podcasts while on your long road-rage filled journey to work. Hate doing errands? Talk to a friend on the phone in between destinations. What are some examples of this that you can think of?
Try making a list of all the things that bring you joy, satisfaction and happiness. It can be big things like, spending time with your children and going to the movies, or the very small, like feeling your feet in wet sand on the beach, or examining an autumn leaf that has fallen from a gorgeous tree. Once you’ve created the list – spend every day adding at least 1-2 of these things daily to your life. The more frequently you do this, the more you will be aware of and appreciate all the wonderful parts of your day even amid the chaos and stress.
We may not be able to get out of schlepping our kids to soccer practice or picking up a prescription from CVS but we can definitely shift our ratio and shift our perspective about these every day humdrum tasks. And, at the very least, blast your favorite song on the radio along the way.