Letting Go To Let In More Business

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Motivational Speaker Kelly Swanson is an award-winning storyteller, author, and comedian who teaches you how to harness the power of your story to connect, engage, and get results. In this blog, Kelly focuses on the business of professional speaking. Kelly’s post day is Friday. If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

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Help! I can’t keep up!

There’s so much to do and so little time!

I feel like I’m a hamster on a wheel, spinning out of control.

Stop this ride, I want to get off!

The Curse Of Busy-ness

Apparently busy-ness is a virtue these days.  We sit around with wine and whine about how many directions we’re going in, how much we have to do, how “needed” we are. And we’re driving ourselves into the ground. Stress and burnout become our middle names.  And nothing really gets done because we’re trying to do too much.

Stop doing so much.

I’m all for hard work. I’m probably one of the busiest people I know. But it’s to a fault. Something’s gotta give. It’s time to let go.

Let Go To Let In

Fact: There are only so many hours in a day.

Fact: There is only so much you can do in that time.

Fact: When you choose one thing, you choose NOT to do another.

Fact: When you focus on too many things at once, nothing really gets done well.

Fact: You can’t do everything.

Fact: You shouldn’t do everything.

Probably A Fact: Your to-do list is too long. It’s time to let go.

There is a pattern I see in people (especially women) of having an unmanageable and unrealistic to-do list. We’re trying to make everybody happy except ourselves. And we live in a constant state of beating ourselves up for not getting everything done in the way we imagined. And we’re sabotaging our happiness and our success.

Doing more doesn’t make us more.

Working harder doesn’t make us more.

The key to success and really making money, is letting go and staying focused on what you really do well.

Make Your Let Go List

Before you make your Let Go List,  I want you to tell me what really matters to you. Give me the top three things that matter most in your life.  For me, it’s Faith, Family, Career, and Personal Health. Okay, so that’s four. Sue me. I’ve just started realizing how much I need to make personal health a pillar. If you want to choose four, that’s fine.

Now under each one, I want you to list the top three things  that are most important in each category.  Not four. Not twelve. Not fifteen.  If family is important to you, I want to know what is most important for you when it comes to family.  This is key. YOU get to define what makes a good family.  Nobody else.  Is it a home cooked meal every night?  Is it hanging out on Saturday nights? Is it attending every soccer game? Is it telling them how much you love them? What is it? What are your “If nothing else, I want this” bullet points? For example, under Family, I want us to be fiscally responsible by being debt free, prepared for retirement, etc.

Now I want you to make a list of everything you do and are responsible for in your life. Take your time. List everything. Think holidays. Think doctor appointments for the kids. Think vacation planning. House cleaning. Taxes. Go month by month. It will be a long list and you still probably won’t have everything included.

Now I want you to go through every item on this list and cross off anything that doesn’t fit into your most important categories.  This will be tough.  I have things I like to do with my friends, but I didn’t list friends as my top four.  Doesn’t matter. Cross it off anyway.  If you have “host Christmas dinner at your house” and it’s not on your top three important things for family – CROSS IT OFF.  (Pause for you to gasp in horror.)

Note: This list may be more than just things to do, it might be things to have.  You might decide you have to let go of family vacations in order to make room for being debt free.

What you now have left is your to do list – or rather your “What Matters Most” List.

You may have to tweak it a little bit. You might have forgotten something really important. But it better be really important, because this list is for what really really matters most to you in life. The things you will have regretted not doing when you look back on your life.

Cherish this list. This is your “What Really Matters” list.

Now the easy part’s over and the hard part begins.

Let Your To-Do’s Audition Their Way Back In

I once heard a speaker tell us that we should ditch our speech and let everything audition its way back in. That’s what you do at this next step. The next time a task (or a purchase)  presents itself – today, tomorrow, next week, next year – you must hold it up against your “What Matters Most List” and determine whether you are willing to let go of something that really matters, in order to let this task in.

If you are really brave, and really burned out, I recommend that for the next month, you don’t do any task that isn’t on your What Matters Most List.

Create Your Let Go List

Just as important, I want you to make a list of the things you have chosen to let go because they simply aren’t what matters most. And I want you to commit to really letting them go. Then I want  you to share them with a friend (assuming she’s still on your what matters list) to keep you a little bit accountable.  Share them with me if you want. I’ll share one of mine with you.

Kelly’s Let Go List

  • A clean house. I give up. Just didn’t make the final cut. Do I wish it was cleaner? You bet. But I’m not willing to give up the other things that matter to make it happen.

Saying No

All of this means that you will have to start saying no. And that is hard if you’re not used to it. You may feel like you’re letting people down. Say no anyway.  When you say yes to them, you are saying no to your family, or something else that matters more. Don’t even feel pressured to give a good reason. Just say no thank you, and move on. If they are upset you didn’t host Christmas at your house, that is their problem, not yours.

Even if you don’t bother with all these instructions, I want you to at least acknowledge that you can’t do it all, and there are some things you’re going to just have to let go of. And the amazing thing is that once you do, you realize you don’t miss them like you thought you would, because they weren’t really things that mattered all that much.

You must let go in order to let in what matters most.

So if you’ve decided that you have to let go of reading all these blog posts….well…..I understand.