Friday, January 4, 2019

2019: Resolving to Be More Intentional Starts with Being Less Busy and Here Is the Plan

How to live simply

It all keeps coming back to my circle of influence. What can I do with what I have to work with?

But, if I have too much, then I'm paralyzed and do nothing.

I love reading the Little House books. I read them every year or two and have done so since I was 8. They have gotten me through more than one down period in my life. I think it's the atmosphere of home and family that I love and maybe the cozy factor. Here is a family that really had very little, yet lived large. I want that. I want simple baked bread, red and white checked tablecloths. Warm light and family reading, knitting, being together.

Simple doesn't mean easy. In fact, what is simple is sometimes the hardest thing. Having nothing to distract you from you. That's hard. Nothing to hide behind when you turn a blind eye to what you should do, your values, your dreams.

So this year my one little word is simplify. Simplify excuses, simplify stuff, simplify relationships, simplify distractions and obligations that don't support me and what is most important to me.

At the end of the day, I figure it comes down to Me, my Relationships, my Work and my Legacy.

Me. Meaning this is the body and mind I have. Simplify until I can get down to the essence of me. If I strip away all the stuff and the labels, who am I? What do I stand for? How do I want to spend my precious time? What do I need from my body and mind to support these things? What things do I want to keep that bring me joy? What's simply a distraction and not worthy of my time and energy any longer and keeps me from being an even better version of me?

Relationships. Relationships are what keeps you living longer and happier. Study after study proves that the bonds you form with others and the quality of your friendships are the secret to a life without regrets, one of meaning and happiness. Yet, we continue to be too busy, trading virtual time for real face to face time.

It is really hard to grow good quality relationships if you don't nourish them. How often am I "too busy" to spend time with my friends, my family, my children or spouse? And what am I busy doing? Looking at my phone or some other mindless triviality? Am I too busy running errands? Cleaning stuff I don't even like or need?

Are these things really more important than meeting a friend for lunch or coffee, or taking the kids to the park or for ice cream or simply giving someone your undivided attention for 5 minutes? It doesn't have to be a lot of time, but it has to be quality time. So, simplify until I am down to the stuff that really is more important than the most important people in my life (I'm thinking it will be a small list).

Work. How do I spend my time and energy? How do I use my strengths and talents? It is in serving something larger than yourself that you feel most connected and alive.....happy. It is up to me to find my meaning, or my "why" in what I do and how I spend my time. What makes me feel good about how I spend my time and what doesn't?

Working in a traditional environment (for a paycheck) doesn't jive with what my family's goals are right now, so how can I feel like I still contribute in some meaningful way? How can I still use my brain for a greater purpose than laundry and schlepping my kids around (although there will certainly still be that, but maybe I can simplify it to less....)?

One way is this blog. I get to learn stuff, try stuff, connect with and learn from others.

Second is volunteer time spent with people I enjoy, doing work I enjoy for a cause I believe in. I need these three things to be present for it to be worth my energy and time.

Third is my home work. Since I do stay home, the primary care of the home falls to me, and it's a job I haven't always relished, I'll tell you that. This year though, I making a mindset shift a little. Taking care of it is taking care of my family. Providing us sanctuary and a place to come together, to share, to live. Perhaps there will be a marketing plan implemented around the house to remind my customers of that (I didn't say simplifying would lead to me being a saint and above a good guilt trip).

However, I don't want to spend my whole day cleaning and cooking, and getting in the way of the other important things, so how do I simplify?

My legacy. What do I want people say about me at my funeral? What do I want to leave my kids, as in what values, what awareness, what skills, what memories?

I figure every day is an opportunity for me to touch someone in some positive way. To help someone. It can be something as simple as a smile, holding a door, an unsolicited compliment that I think in my head, but don't say out loud, or my patience when I feel anything but patient with the flustered barista making my coffee. Also, I tend to collect bits of information, so maybe it is passing on one of these bits to someone who needs it, be it a great bra, a good doctor, an easy dinner, a good book, a possible business or friend connection.

Bottom line, how can I help someone today? Well, I can't if my life is so busy I don't look or see ways to be helpful.

My legacy may also be what I don't leave - a bigger carbon footprint than is necessary. What that looks like, I don't know yet. How far I am willing to go in trading modern convenience for a larger carbon footprint remains to be seen.

So those are the 4 areas that I figure are the most important to me right now. How or what it looks like, I am not quite sure yet. Those are pretty big areas, and I figure the best place to start is by simplifying. Taking away stuff that takes up my time until I am left with just truth, time and space to make meaningful decisions, to figure it out.

Maybe peace of mind won't be baking bread and knitting by candle light, and maybe it will be, but I won't know until I stop being so damn busy to find out.

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