Anyone who knows me, knows that I love to read. I am always being asked by people what I’m reading and what I would recommend. My friend Jodie always laughs because I usually have at least 5 books that I’m reading at any one time. She says she can barely manage reading one at a time as the only time she has to read is in the five minutes she has each evening in bed before she falls asleep.
I understand and remember those days well. It was only a few short years ago that I was in that boat. I was so busy trying to do everything for everyone else in my life that I didn’t take time out for the things that bring me pleasure. When I tried to read a book (one of my favourite lifelong pastimes) it would be in those five minutes before I collapsed asleep each night. I was so tired.
Eventually I got tired of doing stuff that I thought would make other people happy (News flash! It rarely did!) and started to do things that made me happy. Reading books and starting a daily writing practice are two of the things that I prioritised.
Currently, I’m on my first work trip in months. As I went past the bookstore in the Canberra airport a book called my name. It is called The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k. With a title like that, it was just asking to be purchased.
It’s a great title and made me laugh out loud in the bookstore. It also sucked me in to buy it (despite the fact that I have packed four other physical books to read over this four day trip and have my kindle with hundreds more with me!) As a marketing person, I take my hat off to whomever came up with the title. I guess they achieved their objective.
I had twenty minutes to wait for my flight so I went ahead and started reading. I was hooked immediately. And realised that over the past couple of years I’ve done a lot of what the author suggests.
I’ve cleaned my life out of fucks.
Let me explain. The book is a programme for decluttering and reorganising your mental space by not giving a fuck. Not giving a fuck means not spending time, energy, and/or money on things that neither make you happy nor improve your life, so that you have more time, energy and/or money to devote to the things that do (bring you happiness or improve your life).
It’s a two-step programme.
- Decide what you don’t give a fuck about.
- Don’t give a fuck about those things.
And of course, you should feel ‘NotSorry’ once you’ve accomplished this.
As I sat in the Qantas lounge and on my subsequent flight to Melbourne, I continued to read and continued to laugh out loud. I probably looked like a crazy woman, but you know what? I don’t give a fuck what anyone else thinks. I wasn’t hurting anyone. I was enjoying myself.
I landed in Melbourne and had an hour to sit in the lounge there before my connecting flight. I had to laugh again as I watched person after person race past me on the escalator. They all seemed to be on some work treadmill whilst I was relaxed and chilled. I used to be one of those people. I had too many priorities, too many things that I was supposed to give a fuck about that I couldn’t just relax and see the bigger picture. I couldn’t stand on the left, I had to walk up the escalator on the right just because it would save me all of two minutes. To do what? Get a coffee two minutes faster??? What a waste of time and energy.
The book explains each of us have a fuck budget – a limit of fucks that we can give about things in our life and offers exercises to figure out what you give a fuck about and what you don’t. Everything from global warming, whether Trump becomes President of the US, greek yogurt vs houmous, etc, etc. Her point is there are only so many things that we can actually give a fuck about in a lifetime. If we give a fuck about them, then we should commit to them. If we don’t, let them go. Don’t worry about them, don’t offer your opinion or be a jerk about them. Just let them go.
I thought about my work. I love that I now only work on projects that I give a fuck about. I choose what those projects are and make them work around my life. I no longer spend hours of my life on stupid conference calls that achieve nothing. I no longer sit in staff meetings where everyone is bored out of their brains. I no longer have to work on projects that my board or my boss think are important but make absolutely no difference to anyone or anything.
In my personal life, I’ve cleared out the naysayers, the negative people who never supported me or my dreams or my creativity. I’ve gotten rid of the emotional vampires. I’ve added people who genuinely enhance my life in some way and I love to be able to enhance theirs.
As I’ve cleared out the people and the things in my life that I don’t give a fuck about, it’s been liberating. And by adding the people and things I do give a fuck about, it is energising.
I get enough rest, I eat well, I have time to spend with people who matter to me, I have time to read and go for walks, I am creative and productive. I meet new people and have fun. And I’m content. I have a great life.
I’m not saying I have all the answers. But I have time and space to ask myself what’s important and then follow through with the things that I want to do. I’m not scattered all over the place, never feeling like I’m living up to someone else’s expectation of what or who I should be.
I give a fuck about me. And that has made all the difference.