A State of Drowning
Do you ever feel like there’s just not enough time? Like you are balancing too much and can’t do it all? Yeah, I know that frustration. It’s hard to accomplish your goals when you are barely keeping your head above water. How are you supposed to chase your dreams of becoming a business owner, freelance artist, or professional traveler if you can’t keep up with life right now? Thankfully, you can do something to help alleviate this struggle. Here are five easy things you can do right now to simplify your life and get on with your big plans.
Write a Why Statement
When life gets wild and hectic, it becomes harder and harder to remember the reason for it all. That is why a Why Statement is so important. With it, you can cut through all the crap and get to the heart of your purpose.
For instance, if your Why Statement is all about getting healthy, then you can destroy any guilt about getting rid of the things in your life that hold you back. If it’s hard to balance your seven rotating TV shows with going to the gym, then you need to make it easier on yourself by cutting back TV.
When you realize that it’s hard to fit the good new stuff into your current life, it’s easy to discard change and go back to the way it’s always been. But you must remember why you are doing this in the first place. There is a reason why you started on this journey. Going back to your old habits is just a defense mechanism in your head that tells you that change is bad. Change is scary. But you know what’s scarier? Being unhappy and frustrated for the rest of your life. So identify your Why and go full steam ahead.
Ditch The Unessential Distractions
An essential step to bringing things back to a more manageable level is to cut back on the unessential. If you live in the modern world, you probably have several creature comforts. Plenty of food, many forms of entertainment, the Internet, money to burn… Well, maybe not all the time, but you get my point.
As a society, we rely heavily on these to fill the hole of our discontent. Spending hours scrolling through Facebook, watching TV all day, buying things on a whim because it’s exciting, eating because we are bored… etc. We do all kinds of things to distract us from the reality that we are frustrated with our lives when we could easily redirect all that time wasted into fixing the situation. But it’s hard to do, so we put it off until tomorrow.
Well, today’s the day you do something. Think about several things in your life that you could cut down on to make room for your desired work. What little luxuries actually get in the way of your progress? What app could you delete? How can you put those aside to work toward your Why? These can be anything, but often focusing on digital clutter is a great way to begin to simplify your life.
Literally Declutter Your Life
For me, I am constantly struggling with clutter. My husband and I held a garage sale and got rid of tons of our stuff before we moved, and we still had way too much. We purged some more and got rid of several trash bags of clothes. No matter how much we have gotten rid of over the years, we still find that we have a bunch of stuff that gets in the way and impedes the flow.
It can be hard to get rid of objects. Most people have a strange attachment to objects even if we don’t particularly like the object in question. If I received it as a gift, I feel guilty about throwing it out. If I feel like I might use it one day, I feel like I’m wasting my future money by throwing it away. But if it doesn’t help you, it hasn’t been used in years, and it brings you no joy – get it out!
Don’t feel as though you need to hold on to junk (physical and mental) even if it doesn’t serve you. It’s okay to want to simplify your life and declutter. It’s okay if you don’t want to juggle a thousand things to keep everyone happy. Self-care is not selfish, so don’t feel so guilty when you free yourself from things that make you unhappy.
After holding on for years, I finally got rid of tons of items I had held on to since I was a kid. I had a big family, so I often received duplicates of toys or art kits. For years, I held onto these extra things – even if I never used them. Even after I outgrew them. So finally, I shed my guilt and sold them, donated them, or plain tossed them out. It felt wonderful and horrible, but mostly wonderful. It was liberating to get so much of that stuff out of my possession and into more caring hands.
Learn to Say NO
If you are trying to juggle too many obligations and it is making you unhappy, then learn the power of NO. When someone asks you to take on a task that won’t help you achieve your goals or make you feel good, then simply decline. You can say no. You have the right to say no. People won’t hate you for saying no – and if they do kick up a fuss, then they are just used to taking advantage of your generosity. So don’t worry about those people. Your friends and family will understand that you need to take care of yourself. After all, you cannot pour from an empty vessel.
Sometimes simplifying your life is as easy as marking time on your calendar each week that is just you time. Take a bath, read a book, take an art class – do something that recharges your batteries, and do it without feeling guilty. Defend this time fiercely. People will try to shoehorn their way in, but you must guard against these intrusions. Just say “Sorry, I can’t hang out with you, I’m busy.” And leave it at that. Don’t explain, don’t justify, don’t apologize. Just say no. You deserve a little bit of time with no strings attached.
Write it Down, List it Out
When life gets complicated and stressful, just take a deep breath. Count to ten. Sit down and write out 100 ways you can simplify your life with the List of 100 technique. Don’t censor yourself or count anything out. Pick one of the things you listed and find a way to implement it in the near future – whether that’s today or this week is up to you. Make a plan and stick to it.
I’ve always found a strange calm that comes with writing lists. I feel this especially when I’m feeling overwhelmed. I think it’s because when I’m stressed, it feels like my mind is a giant knot of yarn. When I start writing down a list, I begin to pull at the thread, slowly unknotting it with care. Suddenly, it feels like it’s significantly easier to start simplifying my life. It feels like I have more control because everything is laid out on paper in black and white. My problems don’t seem so scary anymore.
These techniques won’t get rid of all your stressors, but it can certainly help you whittle down your unnecessary problems. You can strip away the chaos that surrounds your life and bring it back to the basics to find the essential things. Focus and find an eye in the center of a storm. That kind of clarity is what you need to cut through the junk and make strides to accomplish your goals.
Because in the end, you must only remember the clarion call that brought you to action in the first place. What plucks your heartstrings? Focus on that thing, and the rest can be discarded. Just remember to keep on swimming and eventually you will wonder what you were so worried about in the first place.