A year ago, I sat down at my desk to look at my weekly planner, which was bursting with “to do” lists, phone calls, committee meetings, projects, lunch appointments, classes, speaking engagements and networking. My mind fogged over just looking at all these commitments, and I suddenly realized I did not want my life to be this busy and complicated. I secretly yearned to be alone. I realized I was having difficulty creating any time for me to “just be.”
I immediately took a beach trip, and over the next week I meditated and walked on the beach in silence, thinking about how I could improve the quality of my life and live more fully each day. I sat with a notebook and asked myself, “What do I need to change to create a more balanced, fun, joyful life?” I looked at each area of my life: my life-style, my finances, my work, health, and relationships, and pondered what aspects in each area could be simplified and uncluttered.
Before you start this process, you need to be honest with yourself about why you are not taking time to live your life. Are you hiding out from some emotional issue? Do you have difficulty setting limits? Is your self worth attached to how much you work? Have you developed self-destructive habits or patterns that do not allow for joy?
Make a list of every thing you want to get rid of that is keeping you confined and restricted from living your life without spaciousness. Here are a few suggestions. Get rid of: clutter in your office and home, debt, living and commuting too far from work, working too much, doing busy work, relationships that are energy drainers, involvement in organizations that you are not passionate about, and wearing clothes that are not comfortable and easy to manage. These are just a few of the many ways to simplify!
Just say “no” to doing things you don’t want to do. If you can’t say no, go back and read “When I Say No, I Feel Guilty,” by Manuel J. Smith. He will give you tools you need to reduce your commitments and make your time your own again.
Maintaining a simple life that allows for space to breathe requires a certain amount of vigilance. It is not realistic to think it will automatically stay simple. Old habits die hard.