Have you ever thrown a rock into a pond to watch the splash it creates? I was that kid who always looked for a bigger rock to throw in. Eventually, I’d find a huge rock I could barely move. I’d struggle to bring it to the water’s edge. Then with a significant effort, I’d toss it in. When I got the huge splash, I’d hoot and holler like it was the world’s greatest triumph.

My theme for 2018 is “Go big or go home.” The big I’m referring to is the impact I want to have in the world. It’s not good enough to throw little rocks into the pond and create small ripples. I want to be the big splash.

A couple weeks into 2018, I was starting to feel a little overwhelmed and frustrated. I was not getting to the big rocks. At first, the overwhelm frustrated me. I had committed to leaving space in my calendar to work on the things that will create a bigger splash.

Then I had a breakthrough of my own when I was leading a group coaching session last week. I set goals for 2018 but missed an important step in the process. I didn’t look at what I already have on my to-do list to see if they align with my new goals. 

After reviewing my to-do list I found the items fell into three categories:

  • The item clearly aligns with my goals for 2018 and it stays
  • The item no longer belongs on the list and are easy to drop
  • The item no longer belongs on the list, but I am telling myself I should be doing it anyways


The problem with the third group is they are obligations. For some reason, I find myself in a mindset in which I don’t think I have a choice and the item is mine to own.

I know in this mindset one of two things will happen. I will either do just enough to get rid of the item from my list not really caring about quality. Or, I will leave the item on my to-do list continually coming back to it and telling myself I should do it one day.

Do you know how much easier it is to carry a big rock when you’re not trying to carry numerous others? I want the big rocks on my list so I’m putting down the other things.

If you’re wondering, I have now gotten rid of the items which were still on the todo list out of some obligation. It’s so much easier to move without all those obligations.

Thought of the week

When you hold on to things out of obligation it is like a burden you carry. The more obligations you carry the bigger the burden on you. The bigger the burden the slower you will move. I know you will find greater freedom when you choose to let go of those obligations.

I know this can be easier said than done, so here’s how I work through my obligations:

I start by asking myself “What is my intention with regards to this thing on my to-do list?” Do I want this in my life, or would I have more freedom by not carry it around anymore?

What is it that makes this item an obligation? There is often a story I’m telling myself around what others expect of me. I’ve come to believe some of my old beliefs are limiting and I choose not to accept them any longer.

Do you have what you want, and want what you have? It’s a question my friend Christopher Avery taught me, and one of the most powerful question I use in identifying an obligation. If I don’t want what I have, then it’s time to put it down.

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