Is your day-to-day life full of stress and chaos?
Are you scrambling to find a peaceful moment in the day when you can put your feet up and relax? Are you rushed, stressed out and ready to call it quits.
Why is that so? Who is responsible for it? Why have we made it so difficult?
The solution is simple: simplify your life. It's the implementation part that is hard, but here are my top tips to help with that:
#1 Believe in yourself but be aware of your limitations
The first step to accomplishing all your goals and making your dreams come true starts with this simple realisation that you are human: you are not perfect and you can't do everything alone.
Always keep things realistic. Don't put so much pressure on yourself that you find it hard to move; trust yourself to deliver what you need to, but also be prepared to cut yourself some slack.
- Own up when you make a mistake
- Set goals, and enjoy the journey
#2 De-clutter & simplify
You have a thousand different things screaming for attention: you have to tidy up the kids' room again; you have to do the dishes and laundry; and the never-ending household chores are waiting. You have to organize your calendar and make room for more appointments; make time to socialise; help the kids with homework; and make a gazillion school runs. Don't even get started on what needs to be done at the office.
Let's get one thing straight -- you cannot accomplish anything unless you get yourself some of the clarity that comes from creating space in your life, in your relationships and your environment. You need to reduce, cut back, simplify -- Only then will you stop the feeling of being overwhelmed and rushed.
- Give anything you haven't used for the past 3 years to charity
- Get organized
- Enjoy the concept of enjoying without owing, and appreciating without acquiring
#3 Use everything in moderation
This is something I live by, be it work, socializing, family commitments, overeating, shopping, or watching too much TV -- it helps with every single thing. Embrace the philosophy of "having enough": there's no need to go to extremes, so exercise common sense and learn to curb any obsessive behaviour.
- Spend less money than you make
- Watch your diet
- Watch less TV
#4 Keep things in perspective
I admit there will be times when nothing will go your way, and you will find yourself fighting battles, fixing problems and minimizing damage all day long. We all have those days, and it is too easy to get caught up in the drama. Get a handle on things: this, too, shall pass.
Your child will get better soon, the noisy neighbourhood parties will end, your backstabbing colleague will get transferred (we can hope, can't we?) and there will be actual days where you tick off all the items on your to-do list.
- Don't sweat the small stuff
- Have an open mind
#5 Treat others how they want to be treated
You might end up getting in trouble if you try treating others how you want to be treated, instead of how they would like you to treat them. For instance, if you are not a phone person, you might not call your friend because you assume that they feel the same way you do, which may not be the case.
Try to be sensitive to the needs of others, and occasionally going out of your way to do something for them.
- Try not to judge
- Be generous; try to do something nice for somebody on a regular basis
#6 Family first
My priority is my family, and I left work to start my own freelancing career for the flexible hours it gives. That doesn't mean that my work is not important--it just means that I have to operate in a way that works for me and my family.
How important is it to you that you spend time with your family? Are you making sure that your work doesn't prevent you from doing just that? What sort of arrangements have you made to make it happen? You don't have to stop living your life for your family members, but you'll feel far less guilt if you prioritise and make time for them.
#7 Pay attention to the moment
Stop thinking about what happened in the past, or worry about what might happen in the future. Live in the moment and learn to savour each one.
#8 Have a positive mindset
You are what you think all day long. If you have nothing but negative thoughts racing through your ahead, then that's what you are going to get, so try shifting to a more positive outlook on life. You will be surprised to see that whatever you wished for will start to manifest itself around you.
"Whether you think you can, or you think you can't -- you're right." ― Henry Ford
#9 Educate yourself
The most interesting people are the ones who take an interest in life and never let go of the "beginner's mind". They discover learning opportunities and continue to grow, both personally and professionally.
Be a life-long learner. You don't have to get old to become wise.
- Read good books
- Try to learn something new every day
- Take courses in subjects you enjoy
#10 Be passionate about something
There are some people who are so bursting with energy and vitality that others feel compelled to listen to them, and feel drawn to them. Passionate home cooks, budding interior designers, gourmet chocolate lovers, antique collectors -- just try asking them a question about their interest and they will talk your ears off.
You want to be that person: someone who's full of love for something significant. Have one meaningful hobby that encourages you to follow your passion, and you'll begin each day looking forward to something special.
#11 Always be reflective
Do you ever think about yourself in moments of solitude? What makes you, you? What makes you tick? What bores you to death? What sort of things do you dream of? What can't you get over? What regrets do you have of your past?
Take some time to think about those things and you'll understand yourself more clearly and deeply. You'd be surprised at the life-changing impact such reflection can bring.
- Consider doing a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or another personality assessment to develop true understanding of your self
#12 Surround yourself with supportive people
3 things can change your life: friends, books & your thoughts. Choose them wisely.
- Avoid naysayers and party-poopers
#13 Banish the word "perfection"
Listen to what you tell your children: always do your best and forget about the rest.
- You are expert enough
- Strive for excellence, not for perfection
#14 Fix it, or deal with it, but stop whining about it
Nobody likes a person who complains all the time. If you look around you, you'll see many people who have been dealt a bad hand, but are making the best of things.
- Don't blame others for your problems
- Don't make excuses
- Don't be overly sensitive
- Don't be a drama queen
Try this exercise: whenever you are feeling low, make a list of all the things that make you happy, joyous, and grateful. A beautiful family, adoring kids, kind friends, health, happy home, a job that pays the bills, surprise dinner prepared by a loving spouse, a blog, favourite books and keepsakes, unexpected twenty dollar bill in your jeans pocket. Everything counts.
After you've done this, consider what has happened to the feelings of doom and gloom: it is impossible not to be cheered up after remembering all the fantastic things you have in your life. Be grateful, and always make room for more happiness.
#16 You can have it all, just not at the same time
There is no greater truth than this: you cannot have everything at the same time. You have only 24 hours in a day and need to take care of your relationships, work and spirit.
On any given day, the focus will shift: some days your children have to go to after-school care because you have an important meeting, while other times work has to take a back seat because of a sick child with a high fever. Sometimes you just need to chill with your girlfriends because it has been ages since you last took a break.
You don't have to do everything all at once, and life doesn't have to be complicated. Simple living is mindful living