The Ham Story: Quit doing things that aren’t serving you

The Ham Story, author unknown (Originally recorded March 29, 2018).

The Ham Story, author unknown: Once upon a time there was a husband and wife in the kitchen together. The husband was sitting at the table while the wife prepared the ham for their dinner. He looked up from his newspaper just in time to see his wife cut an inch from each side of the dinner ham before placing it in the roasting pan to go in the oven. Shocked he exclaimed, "Why are you wasting perfectly good ham?!?"  The wife looked at him and said, "That's how I’ve always done it. This is what I always saw my mom do when she cooked ham. " The husband asked, "Why does your mom do that? Does it make the ham taste better?" The wife didn’t have an answer. The next day, she was still thinking about the ham, so she called her mom and inquired, "Mom, why do always cut the ends off of the ham before you cook it?" To which the mother replied, "Well, I always saw your grandma do it. I don't know why. It's just what we've always done." Even more curious, the wife called her grandmother and asked, "Grandma, why do you cut the ends off of the ham? You taught my mother to do it and then I learned from her. But, why?" The grandmother chuckled for a minute and then said, "When I was first married and out on my own, I had to cut the ends off of the ham in order to make it fit in my tiny oven."

There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing.
— Brian Tracy

What are you are continuing to do that doesn’t really serve a purpose?

Trying to do everything increases anxiety and makes us feel crappy about ourselves because we are constantly failing to meet the underlying expectation of perfection (for those of you who know me, you know my opinion about expectations, but that’s an entirely different post). So, if there isn’t enough time to do everything, we need to be choosy about what we are doing. It’s terribly easy to fall into a routine of doing stuff without giving much attention to outcome. We want to get the most bang for our buck, whether we’re talking about work performance, parenting or self care. If you continue to do tasks because “that’s what I’ve always done,” you will be setting yourself up for disappointment.

So, take a look in your life. See what you're doing repeatedly that doesn't really have a purpose: thoughts - feelings - behaviors that aren't serving you. If we go on autopilot, we miss opportunities to let go of (a.k.a. stop doing) the things that aren’t really benefiting us. We miss the opportunity to make our lives work for us.

Let me know... What is it that you have decided you no longer need to do? Don't cut the ends off of the ham just because that's what you've aways done!

How to Determine What Needs to be Taken OUT of Your Routine:

  1. Make a list of all the things you routinely do - daily, monthly, or yearly.

  2. For each item you listed ask yourself, “What purpose does this task hold?”

  3. For each item ask yourself, "What will I lose if I chose to no longer do this task?"

  4. For each item ask yourself, "What will I gain by not doing this task any more?"

  5. Decide what items you will NO LONGER do because they don’t serve you anymore and cross them off.

  6. Stop doing those tasks! If it feels like too big of a leap to stop doing all of the tasks that aren’t serving you, start with ONE task.

Rachel Baker is a Spokane, Washington-based psychotherapist, helping driven and successful people who are overwhelmed and anxious create peace and purpose. Her goal is to connect individual client strengths and experiences with proven therapeutic approaches that increase skill and insight in order for people to create a life filled with peace and purpose. If you are interested in individual therapy to address worry, overwhelm or anxiety and are located in Washington state, please call: (509) 999-8696 or email: rachel@rbcounseling.com to schedule a free 15-minute consultation.

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