Written by Rachel Macy Stafford, The Hands Free Mama 

I’d always believed there were no do-overs in life. I’d always believed I needed to stay true to the person people expected me to be. I’d always believed I shouldn’t let people down—well, only my family. I could let them down because they understood I was very busy doing very important things.

And then one day I spoke to a former teaching colleague that I hadn’t seen in nearly twenty years. At the sound of her husband’s name, I instantly pictured the two of them together. She and her husband had “it.” You know that spark, that invisible bond that draws people together and leads you to believe they’ll always be together. Her husband had cancer and they didn’t know how much time he had left. But they weren’t rushing around trying to make up for lost time or missed opportunities—that was not necessary. Why? Because these two people had been living their happily ever after all along.

If you are anything like me, you know that’s not always the case.

If you are anything like me, you can become quite skilled at putting off your happily ever after.

And once the project is complete, the minute has passed, and the call has been made, something else always comes up. Your “one more thing” has no end.

And that’s when things start to happen: you drive into the intersection before it’s your turn because you’re looking at a screen … you scream at the ones you love the most because you’re stretched too thin … you wake up feeling irritable and unhappy, the same way you went to bed. But then you speak to a dear friend whose husband is battling cancer and realize your happily ever after is slipping right through your busy, little fingers.

And that’s about the time you go for the Life Do-Over that you once thought was never possible.

Let me show you what my do-over looked like:

At the height of my bulging social calendar, at the height of my glowing reputation for getting things accomplished, at the height of my ability to do it all, at the height of my perfectly orchestrated life, I let go.

I began telling the drill sergeant inside my head that homemade breakfast rolls for out-of-town guests were a thing of the past, organized closets and kitchen drawers would happen when my children were grown, flourishing flower beds could be admired in the garden department of Home Depot, but not in my yard.

These tasks are not important right now when my children need me and want me to be present in their lives.

I told my harsh inner critic to pick on someone else because I would no longer be bullied on a daily basis for the bulge around my waist or the permanent lines around my eyes. I began seeing these flaws as lasting reminders of the unconceivable joy I’d been given while alive on this earth.

These physical imperfections are not what define me or give me value as a human being.

I informed my internal over-achiever that I would no longer be everything to everyone. Continually saying yes to everything outside the home meant saying no to the most important things inside the home like laughing, playing, and memory-making with the people I love the most. I vowed to stop saying no to what was most important.

In order to be joyfully fulfilled, I must choose to place my energies in what (and who) truly matters.

And that’s when I began to see it. Feel it. Crave it. Undistracted love.

Because regardless of what tomorrow holds, there is peace in knowing you spent today living your happily ever after … instead of tacking it to the bottom of the to-do list where it will never be touched.

Join Rachel on her journey to let go of distraction, perfection and societal pressure to grasp what really matters by visiting www.handsfreemama.com or “The Hands Free Revolution” on Facebook. Rachel’s book, Hands Free Mama, is currently available for pre-order and hits shelves on January 7.