I first used the concept of the "simplify your life" practice when I met my husband. Initially, we were just friends, and one night, he was talking to me about his relationship woes. This included women that were interested in dating him, but he didn't return the same feelings. I remember telling him how easy it was to simplify his life and even drew out a diagram on a napkin in the restaurant we were having lunch at that day. The trick was to eliminate those individuals that weren't contributing positively to his life. Little did we know, he would be wiping his slate clean for me to become a part of his life (I swear it wasn't planned!).
Even though this example may seem silly, there is something to be said about the process of elimination. When you simplify your life by removing those things that are not serving you, more opportunities become available. I am a true believer that if there is not enough space in your life for those important things, it is challenging to make room for them. I have been going through this process as I have been building my coaching practice. Through the process of building my practice, I have picked up several small jobs to help with revenue flow, while I am in the in between. One of my jobs, although steady and reliable, just was not working out for me. The work culture was stifling and the lack of flexibility was hindering my overall goal for my career as a coach. So simplifying the situation by gracefully resigning has not only eased my mind, but it has allowed me to create more space to cultivate my personal goals. And even though this decision was a little daunting, especially because of some of the certainty and stability the position provided, I feel much less stress and more empowerment by making the decision to simplify my life.
When we have multiple factors playing roles in our lives -- including relationships, school, career and overall fulfillment -- it can be challenging to decipher what actually is important. We may even second guess ourselves as to what we think we should focus on. This can create even more stress and anxiety as we are trying to become more aligned with who we are. As I went through my own process of simplifying my life with this decision regarding my career and supporting jobs, I asked myself two important questions to help me along the process:
1. When I think about this situation, what are the initial feelings that I feel? Are these feelings desirable or undesirable?
When a situation or relationship is in question, what are the initial feelings you have that are related to it? Do you find yourself feeling fearful and anxious or happy and excited? As you go through this process, remember that there are no "good" or "bad" feelings as all emotions are important in your process; it is just a matter of whether these feelings are ones that you desire and want more of or are undesirable and want less of.
2. Will this particular situation serve me towards living the life that I want to create? If I continue down this path, will I move closer to my goals or further away?
When looking at a situation, evaluate if the end all result is one that is in alignment with where you want to end up. Will this particular situation or relationship serve you or is it a distraction? This is a time to get real with yourself if what you are doing or who you are allowing in your life matches you authentically.
Next, it's time to combine these questions, leading to four different scenarios:
Scenario 1: If a situation creates desirable feelings and is serving... congratulations, you are on the right track! Being mindful of how you experience this feeling will help you with future duplication so you can create this success more often.
Scenario 2: If a situation creates desirable feelings but isn't serving, you may want to explore how you are using that situation or relationship as a vehicle to get your needs met. For example, a situation where you may be snacking excessively, meets your need to be comfortable. This scenario is a good opportunity to examine how you can still get your needs met, with a more serving method.
Scenario 3: If a situation creates undesirable feelings and is serving, pay attention. These situations may be the ones that are not comfortable, but help you grow as an individual. For example, exercise may be physically uncomfortable, but if the end result will help you become more healthy and more aligned with who you are, then it is worth exploring. These are the situations that you may want to quit because they are uncomfortable or even painful to explore, but if the end result will serve you, then it should not be ignored.
Scenario 4: If a situation creates undesirable feelings and does not serve you, then it may be time to move on. If you are not enjoying what you are doing and it isn't help you move forward, then the investment of your time and energy into that project may not be worth it.
Although not always an easy process, simplifying your life can create more opportunities and work in your favor with helping you towards your goals. As you look at these factors that make up your life, ask yourself these questions to determine if what you are doing will really help you in the end. Remember: Sometimes less is more; get rid of all the distractions and focus on the big picture.