You know you have a problem when you’ve stopped doing the things you love to do. You don’t see your friends anymore, your family life is suffering and you just can’t find the time to do all the things you want to.
And I know you have responsibilities and commitments you’ve signed up to. There are people you can’t let down and things that you tell yourself you just have to do. Even so, you’re trying to cram in so much you forget that you have a limited mental and physical capacity. Your cup is being emptied constantly but not being replenished.
Here’s the thing, if the people and things that matter most are the ones you end up neglecting then something’s wrong. While you weren’t paying attention you lost control. Your life’s become way too cluttered.
The illusion of busyness
‘So much to do, so little time,’ used to be my motto not so long ago. I felt in a constant state of being rushed off my feet. My days were crammed with too much to do and never having time to do the things I actually enjoyed. Having to-do lists that were pages long, my working weeks were exactly that, seven day weeks where work days blended into the weekends. I neglected myself to the extent that work was more important than my health.
It took my daughter’s shocked exclamation ‘You really don’t have to work today?’ one Saturday to wake me up. She then went on to ask me whether my boss would get angry that I wasn’t. Out of the mouths of babes they say but that was a turning point for me. I realised something had to change.
Like it or not, everything you do comes at a cost, emotional, physical and mental. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, maybe just maybe it’s time for a change.
How to reclaim your life
Author Greg Mckeown, in his book Essentialism talks about doing less but better. It’s the core principle of essentialism and centers on removing all the unnecessary from your life to free up more time for what really matters. It’s a simple concept but not always easy in practice.
Ruthless elimination, as I like to call it, requires that you pretty much drop everything that isn’t important and that can be a difficult thing to do. Why? Because by doing that you’re going to have to say NO more and inevitably disappoint some people. You’re going to have to sometimes put yourself and your needs first and that can feel uncomfortable. You may even need to the deal with the effects of FOMO as a result. However, if you’re going to reclaim your time and in effect your life you need to declutter and here’s how to get started:
- Take an inventory of what you spend your time and energy on.
- Assess them with brutal honesty. Distinguish between the ones that are moving you towards what you want and the ones that aren’t. Are there any that keep you busy but aren’t really generating the results you want? The goal here is to get clear on what’s truly important to you.
- Each week commit to stop doing one thing that isn’t helping or moving you in a direction you want to go. If it’s not important consider getting rid of it.
- Savour the space you’ve now created and if you want, replace it with something that lifts your spirits and brings you joy, something that puts you in a positive frame of mind or moves you in the direction of your goals.
- Do this week after week and see how you start to create a more fulfilling, joyful life. With one simple practice you’ve released the unnecessary to allow space for the things you love.
You can apply ruthless elimination to any area of your life whether it’s letting go of a toxic relationship or saying ‘no more’ at work instead of feeling guilt-tripped into taking on more than you can handle. It truly can be a life-changer.
Time is valuable and when it is gone, it’s gone. Napoleon Hill
If you’re a mid-lifer, now more than ever, there’s an awareness of the finiteness of the time you have left. As the Stoics say: ‘Memento Mori’ – ‘Remember you will die’. How much of your most limited resource have you squandered on things that just aren’t that important? Decide to take charge today. Start eliminating the unimportant from your life and create more space for the people and things that truly matter. Isn’t that what a great life is all about?
Now over to you.
Do you feel overwhelmed a lot of the time?
Could it be that you’re trying to cram way too much of the unimportant into the limited time that you have?
What is one thing you can stop doing today?
Let me know in the comments.