THE BLOG

3 Ways to De-Clutter Your Life and Live Passionately

05/13/2013 08:12 am ET | Updated Jul 13, 2013
Getty Images

In a previous blog post, Frank explained how to live with passion and purpose. It created a minor buzz, and some readers asked, "This sounds great, but I don't have enough time to do what I need to do, let alone pursue my dreams. What can I do?" This question resonates with most of us. Between the demands of work and home, we have precious little time for anything else. Our hectic schedule seems beyond our control.

Let's consider, though, how much of our time crunch can be self-imposed -- and as a result, within our control to change. The culprit is clutter -- the unnecessary junk we fill our lives with that keeps us busy but not productive, moving but not motivated, always doing but never satisfied. Meeting others' expectations, emotional baggage, crammed schedules, and unending material possessions all leave us feeling drained and unsatisfied.

In order to allow our passion to shine through, we need to create space for it in our lives. We do this by practicing simplicity and mindfulness.

According to simplicity expert and bestselling author Janet Luhrs, this involves "shedding all of those outward layers of image and busyness" and "living from your essence... your core."

In other words, slow down, set boundaries and let your values lead the way.

When we do this, something remarkable happens. We become aware of who we are, the choices we make, and the opportunities we have. We become present, taking in each moment rather than being on autopilot. Perhaps most importantly, we order our life around what matters most instead of life ordering us around.

You can start living simply, mindfully, and passionately right now. Here's how:

Define Your Core Values

When you define your core values and use them as the benchmark for all of your decisions, you can quickly and easily simplify your life. Your core values are the fundamental life principles that are most meaningful to you. These might be values of love, connection, creativity, integrity, achievement, etc. You may have dozens of values, but there are a few (five to 10) that are simply non-negotiable.

Without clarity around these values, your life can slip out of alignment and careen in directions that are a waste of your time and energy. Living in harmony with your core values creates the perfect environment for living your life passion and feeling content and balanced.

Use your values to prioritize all of your choices in life. If family is one of your values, but you spend 12 hours a day at your job, are you really aligned with your values?

If you've never defined your core values, you are sailing the sea of life without a compass. When designing a passionate life, your values will keep you focused and present. Here's a list of 400 value words to help you define your core values.

Clean Out Your Physical Space

We all hang on to stuff we don't use -- closets filled with unworn clothes, piles of clutter, and too many possessions. All this extraneous stuff creates mental agitation and distraction. Material things also require time, energy, and money, and they pull us away from real interactions with family and friends.

Releasing some of your material things creates mental and emotional energy to pursue your passion. As you determine the possessions worth keeping, you focus on what is truly meaningful to you and physically separate yourself from things that aren't. This exercise also makes you aware of other attachments in your life that no longer serve you -- to debt, to unhealthy relationships, to poor lifestyle choices. You see that letting go is liberating.

Start one room at a time, beginning with the rooms where you spend the most time. Be brutal in letting go -- and let it go with a blessing. Then clean and organize what's left. Then move on to the next room and the next. This may take a few months or even a year. But work on it. With everything you release, you are opening more space for your passion.

Unburden Your Schedule

Take a look at your busy, over-scheduled life. Where are you spending time that's a waste of your precious and limited time on this planet?

We get stuck on a gerbil wheel of commitments and time-fillers, never exploring our deepest desires and core values -- the foundation of passionate, purposeful lives. Simplifying your schedule affords space to pursue your passion and focus deeply on your important priorities.

So how can you simplify your schedule? Devote one hour a week to defining your priorities and refining your schedule. Examine every activity and commitment, and make the easiest changes first so you get used to saying "no" to yourself and others. Learn to embrace down time to use for introspection and creative thought.

When you are focused on something, focus intently. Being deeply engaged puts you in a state of "flow" that is immensely peaceful and satisfying.

Each of us has clutter in our lives that holds us back from becoming who we want to be and achieving what we desire. What is holding you back? What can you start doing today to begin living simply, mindfully, and passionately?

We'd love to hear how you remove clutter in your life and live passionately. Please leave your comments below or email us at tellus@frankniles.com.

Dr. Frank Niles is co-founder and managing partner of Scholar Executive Group, LLC, a boutique consulting firm that provides coaching, counseling, and leadership development for Fortune 500 companies and influential people. He speaks worldwide. Learn more at frankniles.com and scholarexecutive.com or email Frank at frank@frankniles.com.

Barrie Davenport is a life passion coach, author, and founder of BarrieDavenport.com, a site devoted to helping people uncover and live their life passions. Contact Barrie at bbdavenport@charter.net

For more by Frank Niles, Ph.D., click here.

For more by Barrie Davenport, click here.

For more on success and motivation, click here.

This Blogger's Books and Other Items from...