Last week I washed two cars and cleaned my house.
These are things I haven't done in years. For as long as I can remember, I've had a housekeeper and I've taken my cars to the car wash. My time was too valuable to spend doing these menial tasks. My time was better spent building my business. I would be more successful if I paid others to do this work, and spent my time focusing on my areas of expertise.
Or so I had been taught by mentor after mentor.
As a result, the focus of my life became all about spending my time in ways that would help me become more successful. Don't watch TV when you can read books or study information products to broaden your expertise and grow (never mind if you enjoy a little TV for entertainment or fun). Don't spend time doing things that don't require your expertise; pay others to do those things (never mind if you enjoy doing them, can't afford to hire someone to do them, or you're just good at them).
I can tell you it's easy to buy into that mentality, but in the end it can result in an unbalanced, one-sided life. And for many entrepreneurs, it also results in burnout and an unprofitable business.
As I walk this breaking the spell journey, I am stepping out of this mentality more and more everyday. I do things that are fun just because I want to and don't worry about them being "a waste of my valuable time." I have stopped listening to what all the "experts" tell me I "should" be doing and am just doing what I choose to do.
And that brings me back to washing cars and cleaning house.
Last week I washed one of our cars we were hoping to sell, because I had a buyer coming over and didn't have time to go to the car wash. I washed my car because it was a beautiful day and I had the time to do it. And, I let my housekeeper go as part of my ongoing effort to simplify my life and cut expenses.
Every time I'm able to cut an expense, I feel freer.
It's less overhead. Fewer things to think about, schedule, make time for, and work to support. I feel unencumbered. Freer to do whatever I feel like doing with my life vs. spending every day working my butt off trying to make more money to pay for all of it. I'm creating a lower maintenance life and finding a lot of benefits in that.
One of the greatest benefits I've discovered is there's satisfaction in taking care of things.
It is quite satisfying taking care of the material possessions we accumulate in our lives--like our homes and our cars. I think we value and appreciate them more when we take the time to care for them. It's very different from paying someone else to do it. There's a detachment that results when you do that.
There's an energy shift that takes place when you appreciate what you have.
And what better way to truly appreciate something than to care for it? Otherwise, it's too easy for your focus to shift to acquiring more things, whether it's greater business success, more clients, a bigger house, or even a new car. You get the thing, and you move on. However, when you take care of the thing, you don't move on, you appreciate it over and over and over again. Can that appreciation be found in using the thing? Perhaps. But in my experience, it's not the same.
And THAT was the epiphany I had while cleaning my house!
Now that I'm simplifying, I'm also taking back many of these hired-out tasks. And, it feels good. Even if I don't enjoy scrubbing toilets, it makes me feel more connected to my home. As I washed my car I felt like I got to know every inch of it better. And in both cases my appreciation and gratitude for these material possessions increased. I'm also teaching my son how to clean so he can maintain his area of the house, and I have to say I was blown away by his first efforts. And I have to think he felt good about it too. Plus, it's good to know he's learning skills he can carry forward when he moves out.
As I do my own bookkeeping I have a much closer tab on my business finances. I'm paying closer attention to what's coming in and what's going out, rather than just looking at the bottom line. As a result, I've been able to cut unnecessary expenses without feeling any impact at all.
Is doing these tasks a good use of my time?
Most success coaches and mentors would say no. But I'm not so sure. I have to think that if more people were focused on appreciating and taking care of what they do have, they might be less likely to feel they always need more. The joy and satisfaction found in simple tasks can contribute to a happy life, one that can be more fulfilling than a life spent constantly chasing more money, success, and experiences. Because in that life there is no end. There's always more to be sought.
Will I continue to do these tasks forever?
I honestly don't know. Maybe their novelty will wear off over time. I may become busier and find I don't have the time to do it all anymore. But for now it feels good. And I'm not going to let anyone tell me I shouldn't be doing them. It's right for me, and ultimately I think that's what breaking the spell is all about. Listening to our own inner voice. Doing what works for us. Finding ways to appreciate what have. Instead of letting others tell us how we ought to live our lives.
After spending 25 years in the marketing industry, Debbie LaChusa became so frustrated with its "be more, do more, have more" mentality that she began speaking out about it. She wrote a book entitled "Breaking the Spell: The Truth about Money, Success, and the Pursuit of Happiness" and created the Money Success Happiness blog all in an effort to help others learn how to stop chasing money, success, and happiness and instead discover the true path to a happy, healthy, wealthy life. To read the first chapter of "Breaking the Spell" for free, visit www.breakingthespellbook.com