I have already gained more time for the things I want to concentrate on and like doing. Photo / Getty Images GettyImages-200129535-001.JPG
By Merepeka Raukawa-Tait
I'm always buying books. I buy for myself and as gifts for other people. Often I buy books for the organisations I work with. I picked up one recently that caught my eye; The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*** Journal. I read it from cover to cover, twice. It made me stop and think but also reaffirmed I'm not doing too badly. I already have quite a few areas where I don't give a f***.
The book encourages putting yourself first. This doesn't mean we have to be selfish, not care about others, it just highlights how we sometimes let what other people want, their agenda, start to steer us towards what's important to them. Their priorities. Our thinking gets sidetracked and we don't question where we spend our time and what we put our energy into. The book encourages us to think about that.
I have become relaxed about saying no in recent years. Especially when a request for help comes weeks after someone has been sitting on their hands and then, with a deadline looming, finally gets around to asking.
It's usually that I don't have the time but I also don't feel the need to explain why I can't help. I don't want to stress about spending time with people I'm probably not that keen on, doing work I can't be bothered about.
This wasn't always the case. I used to worry about what people would think of me. "What's the matter with her, she could knock that out in a day"! Never mind that my work programme gets interrupted. Now I don't give a f***.
Reading the book made me realise I have work to do. I should be putting more effort into deciding what I don't give a f*** about. Start to declutter in those areas particularly if the activities are draining my energy. What don't I particularly care about and should stop doing, stop thinking about too. And start spending more time on the things I like doing.
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I believe I would surprise myself. I could end up with a whole list covering work, home and family-related. General stuff too. I plan to put most activities under the spotlight? A few things I don't give a f*** about come readily to mind:
• Looking like my 30-something self. Every age has its beauty. Youth is fleeting and nice while it lasts but as long as I keep reasonably fit, healthy and happy with a positive attitude I find enjoyment in living well, more important than fixating on looks and worrying about whether my clothes from last summer still fit me.
• What people think. If I cared about what other people think of me or what I do, I probably wouldn't have got out of bed past the age of 16. A few regrets of course, but life was not meant to be lived looking in the rear vision mirror. I know the value of the work I do, do it to the best of my ability and that's all that matters.
• Money. I have enough to live on comfortably and spend my money on what I please. My car is 19 years old, still going strong so I see no need to buy a new one. And you can only live in one house although I do own another property. Money is a means to an end. I don't tell anyone how to earn and spend their money and that's as it should be.
I know there are many areas, just below the surface simmering away, for me to investigate. Some big stuff and the small stuff too. All are time and energy-consuming if I continue on as before. The book sits on my desk so I can dip into it whenever I am faced with a job or task to do or something that requires me to put my thinking cap on. Is it something I want to spend time on, something I want to spend energy on or maybe spend money on?
Pretty quickly I realise it's really something I don't give a f*** about. Problem solved. I just say no, refuse to go there. In a short time, I have already gained more time for the things I want to concentrate on and like doing and my energy isn't being drained by doing something I don't want to. Where was this book years ago when I needed it most?
- Merepeka Raukawa-Tait is chairwoman of the Whanau Ora Commissioning Agency, a Lakes District Health Board member and Rotorua District councillor.