This fall, I became acutely aware of my deep desire to further simplify my work and life. And as the festive holiday season approaches I feel an even greater need to return to the core things that bring true joy and abundance.
Life can get complicated quickly and it’s fascinating that we are somewhat hardwired to gravitate towards chaos… yet crave simplicity.
We know this stems from a variety of factors… the external forces and the internal ones – an aversion to stillness and uncovering our fears, our stories and upbringing, the good girl/ guy voice that dictates what we “should” be doing… in essence, the driving emotions behind what makes us tick. You have your story and I trust you know it as well as I know mine.
I invite you to do some soul searching before the holidays arrive. Your insights will guide you to better understand the unique driving forces that are either expanding the chaos in your world or bringing you closer to serenity.
The first part of this two part series covers three key strategies to help you decrease that inner chaos and the second part will focus on the outside reflection – all that stuff.
And about that holiday madness… I have certainly felt the stress starting to press upon me yet, I know that it is my choice whether I invite it in.
How you experience Christmas is your choice (I know it’s a hard one!) So, why not decide to simplify everything about it? The number of times you say “yes” when you mean “no” (more on this below). The number of parties you attend, gifts you buy, cards you write and the importance you place on the wrapping paper, the dress you wear or the appy you cook.
What do you want to experience this Christmas? Something tells me it has nothing to do with most of what the holidays are so focused on.
So focus on that feeling you want to have when you are shopping, wrapping, with your family, at the party and then make decisions that support it. And when you feel that overwhelm expand, ask yourself what you can do to simplify in that moment or what you need to let go of.
Remember, all the people in your world truly want is to experience more meaning, connection and joy – just like you!
Simplify Part 1. An Inside Job
“Clutter begins in the mind and ends up on the floor” – Jessica Duquette
As obvious as this is, you must first decide to make simplifying your work and life a priority. And be forewarned – it may become a lifelong obsession.
When we simplify our inner world, we create the space for greater understanding, connection and joy.
Your starting point is to understand that you are 100% responsible for everything you experience inside. Everything. This is the most liberating knowledge and often the most daunting at first. Embrace this knowledge and one shift at a time, you will reclaim serenity within. Three ways to start…
- Re-define the non-negotiable things in your work and life. My guess is that you have a long list of things that are up for grabs in your day yet many of them are actually your most important priorities that are not getting the attention they require. When you lack clarity on what is non-negotiable you give yourself, the world and the people in your life permission to dictate where your attention, energy and time is spent. This creates constant internal negotiation and conflict with even the smallest things, leaving you continuously pulled in opposing directions. Some simple examples…
- You block time to focus on a critical work project yet without thought answer the phone when it rings.
- You say yes to volunteer work even though it means you have compromised your time with your family on the weekend.
- You stay up late watching TV and consequently hit snooze in the morning instead of fulfilling your commitment to go for a run.
Write your non-negotiable priorities down, schedule them in your calendar and work the rest of life around them. Throughout your day, ask yourself if you are compromising your true commitments and integrity with a decision or action? In other words “Am I saying YES, when I mean NO?” As someone who is naturally geared to meet others needs, I ask myself this question often and it always gives me the insight I need to make choices with integrity.
2. Group similar activities together and focus on completion. Focus on one type of activity at a time and you will minimize multitasking and increase your productivity dramatically. You will be more grounded in the present moment which brings depth to your experience and decreases stress.
And always focus on completion. With countless threads of unfinished business in our lives we wake up with the weight of yesterdays stuff holding us back. It is extremely discouraging to always feel one step behind and wreaks havoc on our sense of self worth. There is tremendous energy that comes with completion. It is clear, empowering and holds great momentum. Some examples…
- Only do personal administration (paying bills, registering for activities etc.) on one afternoon a week. Only respond to emails / communicate at specific times.
- Hold regular staff meetings and dramatically decrease unnecessary, ongoing communication.
- Be realistic in what you can accomplish in a given time frame and break larger projects into phases so there is clear completion throughout.
- Do all of your Christmas shopping in one week and wrapping on one day
3. Give your thoughts; ideas, stories, worries and decisions a place to rest. How much internal chaos do you create, time and energy do you spend whirling things around in your mind? Give this internal, relentless chatter a place to rest and you will give yourself the opportunity to truly focus on the present moment. Write it all down and commit to the time that you will review, take action or make decisions on it. Decide what you will use – a journal for personal stuff, a notebook and planner for your business or work. A worry pad for all the things you worry about.
Throughout the week, I continuously jot down personal things in my journal and keep my business “catch all” close at hand. Every Saturday I review what’s come up for me during the week personally and professionally and decide what I can let go of, still requires attention and action and refocus. Create something that works for you!
Simplifying your inner world takes courage, honestly, integrity and commitment to let go of patterns that no longer serve you. Your payoff will be the inner freedom you so deeply desire.