For the last two weeks I have been “unsubscribing”. Every time I get a mail in my inbox that I don’t want to be there, I take the time to unsubscribe. The good news is that my mail box is getting clearer and clearer and more full of mail and messages that are important to me. I mean; really!? Who puts me on these lists? Conferences in Dubai and Singapore, Solutions for document management, special deals on earth moving equipment and once in a lifetime offers to travel to Bali or Budapest. I did not ask to be on these lists, or at very least I may have been interested three years ago, but have not taken the time to click on the button at the bottom of the offending email that says “unsubscribe”. What happens is that eventually the flood of junk mail becomes so big that I become exhausted. I give up trying and just resign myself to an inbox that is not of my making, of no interest to me and from which I can expect no joy or fulfillment. Bear in mind that I am not here speaking of “junk mail”. You know the kind of mail about erectile dysfunction and instant cash loans. That king of email does not even allow us to opt out. We have to me more violent with that by employing IT guys at our internet service provider to develop special filters to protect us. No, I am talking about that stuff in our inbox that comes from legitimate operations, offering legitimate services, that at some time in our lives may even be interesting to us, but that frustrates us because it is not what we want for ourselves right now. For this the solution is simple ….”UNSUBSCRIBE”.
I am beginning to see though, that what is true for my inbox is true for my life. I have “subscribed” to many things that at this point in time frustrate me, or bore me or are just not what I am into any more. It’s easy to unsubscribe from some of these. “Sorry, I just don’t watch the news any more” or “Sorry, I just don’t eat carbs anymore” or “sorry I don’t wear long hair any more” or “sorry, I don’t schedule business meetings over the weekend” or “sorry, I just don’t check voicemail”. These actions and others like them have all been quite easy for me to take and have all had a refreshing impact on my life. I am glad I picked the small “unsubscribes” first. They are easy to do and they show instant results, but I think the real benefit is that they give me the courage to begin to tackle the bigger “unsubscribes”, the more complicated ones, the ones that will be resisted by people that may have become comfortable with the benefits that flow to them from me being a subscriber. And this is I suppose as far as we are able to stretch the “life is like your inbox” metaphor.
There are things in life that each of us are responsible for, that we can’t just opt out of because we have lost interest or we have “moved on”. But what are those things? What are we really responsible for and what is it can we unsubscribe from even if it causes some disappointment? This is a million dollar question. A question I would guess many of you reading this are wrestling with in your own lives right now. Maybe the point to remember here is that everything is negotiable. Even your “responsibilities” can be negotiated. Let’s say for example you are responsible to pay your bond every month. You can’t just click “unsubscribe“ to make the bond payment go away, No! Of course not. But you can negotiate. You can say, “How about if I sell the property, pay the bank what I owe them, then I won’t be responsible for the bond every month.”
- Of course the banks not happy because they would prefer to profit from your monthly bond payment.
- Maybe your kids are unhappy because they quite liked the swing in the backyard of the bonded house.
- Maybe your friends are unhappy because now they have to update your details in their contact list.
The idea is to realise that I am responsible for the commitments I have made and do go to each of those you have committed to and make good through renegotiation. Don’t just say “Fuck you all! I don’t like paying the bond every month so I won’t, and you can just do your damdest!” No that’s a recipe for years of unnecessary and completely avoidable misery.
But don’t give up on your attempt to “unsubscribe” .Go back to each of those you have made commitments to and say:
- “Dear bank, I know I said I would pay this loan off for the next 20 years, but I’ve changed my mind. I’ve sold the house. Here’s your cash (and the penalties you made me agree to)”
- “Dear Kids, I know you liked the backyard swing in the old place, but how about now that we have this smaller place that daddy prefers, we walk to the park and swing there every evening, and then with the money I save on the bond we go swing at Disneyland at Christmas time every year”
- “Dear Friends, I know you like the idea of knowing where I stayed. But you know what I’ve moved to a new place. Get over it! And by the way I’m having a house warming braai at my new place on Saturday – see you there!”
You see! That wasn’t so bad. You’ve negotiated out of your responsibility, you have unsubscribed in a way that does not leave unhappy people in your wake and you dealing with consequences for many years to come.
Because I see in my own life that I become stuck with that which I believe is can’t be “unsubscribed from”. Someone I’ve employed, a project that’s irritating me, a city or a place I find myself living in. The feeling that I can’t do anything about it is debilitating. Its depressing. It robs me of the energy I need to get out of bed in the morning. So my promise to you is this. No more capitulating, No more giving up. No more putting up with it in the hope that it will pass. If in my heart I know that my circumstance is not aligned with my higher purpose, I will feel it. And when I feel it I will find the courage to act. And when I find the courage to act, I will act in such a way as confront and negotiate the responsibilities I have toward the people around me and ecosystem of which we are an integral part.
Mark my words!