Followers of my Instagram account might have seen that one of the books I’ve read lately was ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F***’ by Sarah Knight. It’s at the sweary end of self-help books, but at its heart it addresses an epidemic that affects so many of us. Lack of time, stress and feeling like you’re a puppet with someone else pulling your strings. Being pulled in 100 directions by work, chores, family, friends and partners – all demanding constant attention and requiring so much of our time and energy that there’s nothing at all left.
The basic idea of the book is learning to stop being such a ‘good girl/boy’ and stop giving away so many of your ‘f***s’ as the book describes them to things and people that take away too much energy and do not give anything back. Be they unnecessary work meetings, 10 year reunions, reading the latest ‘must-read’ bestseller or attending your third cousin’s baby shower. Initially, I found it hard to identify with the book’s message, as I feel like the things draining away my energy are a bit more tenacious and a bit less optional than a hen do or a bar mitzvah that you don’t fancy going to. It seems I was already doing just great at avoiding time-wasting events that I’m not interested in. However, work, chores, gym and keeping the few people I actually care about happy still seemed to be sucking away 99% of my time and energy, leaving me irritable and stressed.
So here are some of my own ideas that I plan to implement, so that I can give fewer f***s about things that I don’t care about, and grab back some precious minutes for things I do.
1 – Overtime
I used to buy into the idea that work is the meaning of life, and that spending several extra hours a day working in order to look ‘dedicated’ was extremely important. I thought that those people who leave the office each day at 5pm were lazy and a waste of space, while ‘real’ workers were still sitting there at 8pm with red eyes. In fact I find it very hard to let go of this concept and not feel guilty about working my 9-5 and then going home.
My ‘no f***s given’ solution is that I will hit the office maybe 15-30 minutes early each day, as I like getting a little head start to the day, but that I’ll leave at 5 each day when possible, and most importantly I will not be sorry.
The same applies to taking a sick day if needed, going to a doctor’s appointment without driving myself mad trying to ‘make up for it’ and even (gasp) eating my lunch without one eye on emails and the other on the clock. And again, not being sorry about it.
2 – Going to the gym every day
Much like the above, I tend to have a perfectionist, all-or-nothing approach to working out. Either I don’t do it at all, or I set high expectations where I have to go for an hour every day, and beat myself up if I miss even one session.
The solution? I’ll set a general target of 3 times a week. If I make 4, great. If not, no problem. I can use the time I regain to actually relax and maybe even do something I like. Sorry not sorry.
3 – Overloading myself with freelance projects
I have a terrible habit of feeling guilty for turning down any work, and always end up accepting way too much, then killing myself trying to finish it.
The solution? Cutting down my workload to something more reasonable. Ignoring begging PMs or pushy clients. Not even slightly sorry.
4 – Being the ‘perfect’ environmentalist
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a fully paid-up, t-shirt wearing member of the tree-hugging, whale-saving eco movement. I refuse to use central heating, use hippy-style reusable products instead of disposable ones, recycle religiously even though it means hauling everything to the next borough, and generally make evil eyes at people on the tube drinking Costa coffees from paper cups.
However, at the same time, I still shop at a supermarket. I don’t have a garden, so I don’t compost my food scraps. I travel, and sometimes even drive. My rubbish doesn’t fit in a mason jar. Sometimes I’m on the go, and the person at Pret gives me a paper napkin and it’s too late to refuse it. I really wish I was the perfect eco girl, but busy life gets in the way. Maybe it’s ok that I haven’t quite managed to become a zero-waste, bicycling, composting vegan, and I’m just doing my best according to what I can manage.
From now on I’m not going to be quite as sorry about the occasional piece of plastic film or the fact that I haven’t given up makeup. I’m still trying to improve, but I think it’s ok if I don’t start using moss in the bathroom or using cocoa powder as makeup.
5 – Being super dedicated to blogging and/or social media
I love blogging, Instagram and Twitter some of the time, but other times I’m too busy, or I have nothing to post, or I just don’t care that much about which digital nomads are in Chang Mai right now. In a perfect world I’d like to blog around once a week and keep my social media channels maintained, but it just doesn’t always happen and there’s no need to force it by posting rubbish just to keep up appearances, or to get stressed because I didn’t write anything for a month.
The solution? I’ll post when I want to and have something to post. Otherwise, guess what? Yep – not sorry!
So these are my five main ‘resolutions’ that relate specifically to how I’m going to take a little bit of the stress and guilt out of my life.
Have you read the book? What areas are on your ‘no f***s given’ hit list?
If you’re in the UK and think you could use a copy of the book – let me know why in the comments. I’ve got one to give away to whoever I think is in need of a serious f*** bonfire!
* The NotSorry method and other concepts in this post are the intellectual property of Sarah Knight. This is a personal opinion post only.