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