TarBabyMost of the time what is necessary to get things done is to roll up your sleeves, dig in and start doing. It may not be fun or even pleasant, but the sooner it’s started the sooner it’s done and you can get on to other things. In these cases the balancing act is to not just keep “getting things done” but instead to see the doing as a means to achieve a large amount of being, doing the things you enjoy and being with the people you love. However, there are times when getting things done is the very last thing you should do.

Sometimes what needs to get done isn’t yours to do. People who are good at problem solving, who are doers and fixers, have a tendency to get into the habit of “just doing things” because they can see what needs to get done faster, get it done quicker, and do it better the first time than other people. So they just opt to do it. What they don’t notice very often is that people other than themselves know this. They enjoy it because it means they can let go of the responsibility for a whole bunch of things they would otherwise have to do. If a fixer is on a tear to get things done, they can rest easy and just watch the show. Intentionally or unintentionally, this eventually creates a tar baby effect where the fixer gets more and more angry, more and more stuck, and  exponentially more energy in order to extricate themselves from situations they should never have gotten into in the first place.

The only way to handle a tar baby is not to touch it. No matter how enticing, no matter how much easier it seems it would be to just take care of it, no matter how infuriating it is to have that tar baby just sitting there not getting taken care of, there is no good outcome from taking on a tar baby. Eventually we can reset the boundaries, stop jumping in to take care of everything by consciously sorting what is ours from what is the responsibility of others. We can learn to accept that others may not be as good at doing or problem solving as we are, but that’s not a signal that we should engage in the situation. It’s a signal that we should turn our attention to happier tasks and enjoy the amazing day we’re now available to enjoy because we’re not stuck up to our elbows in someone else’s tar.