Inside: More and faster isn’t better. We can do less for more impact and joy. Here are 9 simple ways to get started!
It’s incredibly easy to fill our lives to overflowing and end up burned out, sick, stuck, and unhappily living a life that we don’t really want. More and faster isn’t better.
We can, however, learn to honour our wiring and true energetic and emotional capacity in each season of life.
And we can learn to filter all decisions through our core values so that we consciously move closer to, rather than further from, our vision for life and for who and how we choose to be in the world. (I help people do this inside my Brave + beautiful Community!)
are you living on autopilot or on purpose?
When we struggle to set boundaries or limits on ourselves – or when we’re unwilling to experience the discomfort of missing out or saying no, we end up a slave to our calendar or prioritizing someone else’s agenda. We operate on our worn out patterns of behavior until we intentionally do the work to build new life-giving patterns (and neural pathways).
And most importantly, we risk getting to the end of our days and realizing that we never had the courage to build a life that felt true to us. We filled up our days with busyness and lived on auto-pilot instead of on-purpose.
On the other hand, when we do less by reducing commitments, work pressures, people-pleasing, or unhelpful self-imposed expectations, we live with a greater sense of empowerment, ease, and joy.
The choice to do less frees up space and energy to pursue our deepest work and make a positive difference within our circle of impact.
It can feel scary, vulnerable, and even counterintuitive at times, but we need to do LESS for MORE impact and joy.
9 ways to get started as you aim to do less for more impact and joy
Here are some practices to help you do less for more impact and joy. Choose one or two to get started and keep in mind that this can take time. Slow and steady is my favorite speed.
1. Consider how you want to feel in various areas of your life or home. We can get so focused on DOING that we forget to ask ourselves how we want to FEEL in our life.
2. Craft a weekly rhythm that reflects your values and priorities. This is an honest but “ideal” master weekly rhythm that blocks out time for work, rest, connection, meal prep, etc. There is often a huge disconnect between what we say we want and what we make time/space for. I want to see my values reflected on my calendar.
3. Plan for purposeful rest. Open up your calendar. Look ahead at the next year and block out time proactively for rest – each day, week, month, and quarter. If you don’t plan for it, it won’t happen by accident.
4. Reduce decision fatigue and simplify by building a capsule wardrobe, creating a rotating menu plan that your family enjoys, automating bill payments, or setting up delivery of your pet, food, and toiletry staples, as examples. Save emotional and physical energy for the most important tasks that you can’t or don’t want to outsource.
In Search of Simple: Field Notes From Near and Far on Slow Living
Choosing a simpler, slower, sustainable way of life is a way of honouring my wiring in every season. A way of moving through the world that helps me feel safe, at home, and joyful in my body and life.
5. Is your instinct in life to say yes or to say no? Does this tendency generally work for you? Identify the healthy boundaries you need to put in place to protect what matters most to you, or the leaky boundaries that need shoring up. You might establish a “48-hour pause rule” before saying yes to a new commitment or hitting the ‘buy now button’ on your online shopping cart so you have a breath to ensure that this choice aligns with your values + priorities.
6. Rework or create a values-aligned spending plan for this season of life. Set up a savings account or emergency fund, make a will, institute a shopping ban if needed. Where do you over or under spend (and why)? Sometimes we feel that we can’t slow down or take a break because our spending doesn’t align with the truth of what we want and need for wholeness and joy.
7. Put the Pareto Principle to work for you. 20% of our habits/actions lead to 80% of results (conversely, 80% of what we do only contributes to 20% of results). Get clear on the 20% of your choices which have the biggest positive impact on your work success, mind-body-spirit health, core relationships, financial wellbeing, a peaceful home environment, etc. Start letting go of (or reducing) the rest or perhaps stop worrying about the details that don’t truly matter as much.
8. Set your intentions. Each morning identify your top three priorities for the day. Write them down for accountability. This is good practice for checking in with our values and priorities vs being pulled into other people’s emergencies or ‘busy work’, or falling into unconscious patterns.
9. Does FOMO (fear of missing out) contribute to your busy, overstuffed life? Notice what triggers you to pursue more: Is it scrolling Facebook, home decorating shows, glossy travel magazines, listening to business podcasts, pressure to chase one more degree or certification, lunch with a certain friend who always leaves you feeling less than? If it’s not working for you, consider going cold turkey or establishing a better boundary to quiet the noise so that you live on purpose and focus on what truly matters most to you.
RELATED: In Search of Simple: Field Notes From Near and Far on Slow Living. Learn more here.
A full life or a busy life
I like to distinguish between “a busy life” and “a full life.”
A full life to me includes time for purposeful rest, meaningful work, for self-care, contribution, and whatever matters most to each of us. It will include doing hard things, some stress (because we’re human in a messy world), and sometimes tipping into busy, but not living there.
A busy life is different; it feels more like running on a treadmill that you cannot stop. It feels less on purpose and more like being pulled in multiple directions against ones will or working super hard to simply stay afloat. Busy leads to overwhelm.
We are, of course, wired differently and will joyfully (and healthfully) sustain varying levels of activity. I recommend ‘moving at the pace of our nervous system.’
But filling our lives to overflowing generally means eating for convenience not health, less time in nature or for rest, less time connecting in community or meaningful relationships, less time for sleep. Therefore, saying yes to busyness, hustle, or trying to measure up and keep up tends to mean saying no to the very lifestyle factors that contribute to greater health, longevity, and happiness.
Consider what it would look, sound, and feel like for you to choose:
Less rushing, hustle, or burnout. More resting and respecting your boundaries and natural rhythms.
Fewer commitments. More time with your favourite people.
Less comparison and trying to measure up. More peace, ease, and gratitude for your own messy and beautiful life.
Less distraction and FOMO. More focus on your honest priorities.
Less feeling behind. More feeling ‘on purpose.’
Less stress. More impact and joy.