Sometimes the subjects I choose for my blogs are things I need to work on and this is one of them. We’re all works of progress, right?
As a writer, I’m used to brutally editing my work. If it doesn’t work, out it goes. Because if you cut out what’s unnecessary, you have a better and more meaningful story. The same goes for our lives. After all, we’re not meant to live in a frantic world rushing from one commitment to the next without a moment to stop and catch our breath. Our health and our sanity will suffer sooner rather than later.
To simplify one’s life means different things to different people, but essentially it means eliminating unessential things to make room for what’s really important to us. In other words, less is more.
As a first step, why don’t we take a moment to inventory what’s important to us. List five essential things in your life that you value and love. Which is the most important? Which do you value the most?
My list is as follows:
- My spirituality. Anyone that knows me knows that I have dedicated myself to God and that comes first in my life. This one is simple for me.
- My family. I am a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, and sister. This is a trickier one to balance.
- My work. Writing has been a lifelong addiction and I am fortunate enough to have made that my career. However, I’m trying to get better at selecting jobs that I enjoy and that bring me satisfaction. Simplifying my life for me also means being happier with less and not striving after money or success.
- My home. As I age, I’m beginning to let go of the perfection I used to demand from myself in this area.
- Myself. This includes exercising and hobbies such as sailing, traveling, and reading.
Yes, I just noticed that I’m last on my list. Is it the same for you?
Okay, now that you’ve made your list, examine it and make sure the items are in line with your values, priorities, and life goals.
Now look at your list again and ask yourself how you spend your time. List what you do from the time you get up to the time you go to bed. Are your activities in line with the five most important things in your life? Are you letting unnecessary things get in the way? Or are doing what everyone else wants and not doing what’s important to you?
Important questions, my friends.
Now it’s time to make a conscious decision to focus on what’s important and eliminate the things that give you the least return for your invested time and effort. Edit out the non-essentials. Be tough and merciless.
That means saying no to the unnecessary things you don’t enjoy. You don’t want to go to that baby shower? Decline and send a gift. You don’t want to head up the school’s charity function this year? Don’t do it. That doesn’t make you a terrible parent and believe it or not, the world will keep spinning.
Prioritize your activities and set personal boundaries. Like I said in my former blog, How Boomers Can Use Midlife Wisdom to Find Happiness, make healthy, life-affirming choices by saying no to meaningless requests and saying yes to what excites you.
Saying no to things that don’t have value to you or don’t bring joy to your life is the most liberating path to a simpler life. You’ll be happier, more content, and calmer.
So make that list of priorities and if you’re so inclined, share it with me. I’d love to hear what they are along with any tips you’ve discovered along the way for simplifying your life.