Recalibrating Through Simplicity

Simplify your journey by recognizing past patterns

Words by Carl Phillips

When I look back at what originally led me in the direction of trying to simplify my own life, a little over a decade ago, I see this pattern:  

Striving / Burnout / Recalibrating / Simplifying 

Let’s explore each. 

1. Striving

- Chasing more 
- Chasing status and “success”
- A “more of more” mindset

2. Burnout

- Stressed but unfulfilled
- A realisation that most of this striving was based around empty goals that were not truly meaningful for me at all
- A feeling that not enough of my time was really my time
- A feeling that I had lost my way in life, without being able to put my finger on where I wanted to get to or what it was I needed

3. Recalibrating

- Going Inside
- Re-connecting the dots on what is important to me and, by definition, what is not
- Asking myself some simple but revealing questions (self-enquiry)
- Finding the work of others that spoke a different language, a language that resonated (Leo Babauta, Joshua Becker, Courtney Carver, The Minimalists)
- Going deep on 80/20 thinking (spurred into action by Richard Koch’s books)—this concept was the paradigm shift I needed at this time of my life
- Reading and re-reading some classic works (Lao Tzu’s Tao TeChing, the work of Thich Nhat Hanh and Bruce Lee—all big on the concept of simplifying) 
- Promising myself I would make changes to my own life from what I uncovered

4. Simplifying

- Understanding what enough looks like for me
- Setting my own metrics for “success” (not just chasing after a handed-down version from others)
- Making room for more simplicity in my life
- Committing to own my journey (not expecting the answers to come from outside)
- Realising enough can indeed be enough and that less can even mean more
- Uncovering what is essential to me
- Focusing on what matters most
- Seeking the signal amongst too much noise

For my journey ahead there are simple lessons in these patterns. If I remain committed to making time for recalibrating and simplifying, I should not need to revisit the darker side of striving or reach burnout.  

Any striving I do should be in relation to goals and achievements I am connected to, not just striving for what society’s constructs tell me I should be chasing.  

Life is full of ups and downs, but simplicity can act as a powerful anchor for all of us as we try to navigate the world.

Carl Phillips

Carl is a writer and runs Frictionless Living, a site about the pursuit of simplicity to help us focus on what matters most. It’s about finding clarity in distracted times.


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Inside Minimalism is our series of exclusive essays on simple living. Each essay is written by our team of writers who are passionate about helping you craft a simpler life. Supported by their own personal experiences, we want to inspire and encourage you to clear the path of life’s stuff, so you can get to where you really want to be.

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