False obligations are things that you think you NEED to do
It’s things like having to make sure that your bathroom is cleaned every Sunday, or else the home inspector will come along and give you a failing grade.
Or that you NEED to reply to every single email that crosses your Inbox.
They are things that you can do because you haven’t given your word to do it to anyone; it’s an unsustainable behaviour, and you can do it at any time you choose (read: no deadlines).
Real obligations are things you really need to get done
..such as file your taxes on time to avoid penalties.
Show up at your kid’s recital on time, because she only performs once a year.
Or finish some pro bono work you promised, to someone who needs it for their own projects before they can move on.
The distinction can be hard to decipher at first.
When I first started working and blogging, I felt the need to do everything.
On time, at once, perfectly packaged and with a turnaround so fast, it made your head spin.
It became exhausting, and turned my previously loved activities into chores.
And I hate doing chores.
I hate the idea of being obligated to do things when in actuality, you don’t owe anyone anything, except for the promises you’ve made to them.
I definitely go “by my word”.
I try not to promise anything to anyone (including myself) that I cannot keep up or achieve on a consistent basis.
If I can’t do it, I say so.
It’s a balance between being intense & relaxed.
I can be intense when I need to, and very focused to …bam bam bam! ..get all these things done by their deadlines… but I can also be very laid back (read: easy going and purposefully LAZY).
If there’s a deadline (mine or someone else’s), or a commitment that I promised and have to follow through — I will be sure to get it done.
But if there isn’t a deadline, and it isn’t a “life or death” situation, then I tend to be a lot more relaxed.
It’s not that I don’t care.
It’s that I don’t want this intense pressure of having to be on top of my game all the time, weighing down on my shoulders.
People who run like that at full speed for the majority of their lives, burn out, and then regret not having “wasted” their time more, when they had the chance to.
25% of intense pressure once in a while, is fine.
I make lists, I have schedules down to the 15 minute mark, and I get everything I need to get done.
Other than when crunch time is in full gear, I don’t feel obligated to do what I don’t want to do.
It gives me time to wind down.
Take a breath.
…and ignore my false obligations.
I need time to rest, so that I am able to ramp up into full gear when I need to.
Even machines have to rest, once in a while.
It bothers people, I’m sure.
I don’t promise anything to anyone that I cannot do.
So when I have a real obligation to myself, or to someone else, I’m going to get it done, because I haven’t wasted any of my energy on false obligations.
How do you balance your real and false obligations?
Related to obligations but not in the way I’m talking about above, you should all read Out of Debt Again’s post about her experience and views on Tithing. Emphases in red and bold are my own.
My mother was scared half to death when our pastor proclaimed that God would take tithing money from her one way or another, and it seemed to actually happen.
[....] One Sunday morning a particularly wrathful sermon on tithing was cast down, compelling my mother to give away the last $15 in her wallet.
A few hours later, reality set in as it occurred to my mother without that money her three young children would go hungry for the next few days. Drawing strength from her mothering instincts, she went back and asked for the money. The pastor warned that God would take the money from her, one way or another.
My mom went to the grocery store, came out of the store, placed the bags of groceries on the roof of the car, got her three little girls settled in the car and drove home. Arriving home, the groceries seemed to have vanished. My mother then remembered she’d left the groceries on the roof of the car. She hurriedly drove back to the store. We found a few items scattered on the road, most had been run over once the bags tumbled from the top of the car.
My mother was terrified, convinced she had been punished by God himself. From then on, she lived with a heightened sense of fear.
The Bible instructs us we are not to have the spirit of fear (II Timothy 1:7 KJV) so that should have been a warning sign right there.
She had three little girls to take care of, but she also had to give 10% of her hard earned money to the church, and putting food and clothes on her children was not to stand in the way.
I don’t believe in religion so I don’t “tithe” but I do give money to charity on a regular basis. I think it should be given freely, of your own will and only after you’ve covered your own basic needs to be able to give that money.