PART TWO of YOU CAN SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE
(This post is also covered on the Simple Saturdays podcast, episode 31)
WHY DON’T WE HAVE A SIMPLER LIFE?
In part one of the You Can Simplify Your Life series we covered WHY life feels complicated and overwhelming – I think it all comes down to how we are managing our resources.
We don’t have the resources (the time, money, space, energy (physical and emotional)) to live the life we want and that makes it feel like life is NOT SIMPLE. We don’t have the resources because we are mismanaging them. Our resources are drained living the life we don’t necessarily want to live. So we hustle harder to make more of these resources and the hustle wears us down even more because it comes from a place of scarcity (not-enoughness) and not abundance. (Listen to or read Part One)
So WHY are we mismanaging our resources? Why don’t we be super proactive and mindful with our time, money, space and energies? Why don’t we prioritize how we spend our time, and use our space, handle our money, etc.?
This question is something I have asked over the past five years as I have worked on living my life on purpose. It is also something that comes up for the women I life coach. The answer isn’t cut and dry as to why we aren’t managing our resources with intention and have that simple, purposeful life we crave.
We need to dig into our ‘why’s’ just as much as our ‘why nots’.
Sure we can’t reasonably get to the root underlying mindset and motive of everything we do or don’t do, BUT when we want to make a shift in our life, and traction feels hard, then it is vital to explore what holds us back.
Observing ourselves without judgement or rationalization allows us to become aware and use this information to try new actions and thoughts. Paying attention is the beginning of making a change.
I’m going to share some of the top reasons I think we don’t have a simple life.
Maybe one stands out for you or maybe a few of them feel true. Either way, REMEMBER, there is nothing wrong with you if your life feels overwhelming and/or complicated. You are just living your life and carrying on the way you always have, you have been on autopilot. (Which is super efficient and your brain’s actual goal: to live on autopilot and conserve energy.) BUT when your thoughts, actions and habits aren’t moving you closer to the life you want, then we can stop and get mindful about how we want to shift things.
REASONS WHY WE DON’T HAVE A SIMPLER LIFE
1. We are buying into the glorification of ‘busy’
‘How is life?’ ‘Busy’
We all say it. It is part of our culture. Life IS busy. We are busy getting kids out the door in the morn, heading to work or parenting all day, after school activities, make dinner, clean up, bedtimes, fall onto the couch, do it all again tomorrow.
‘Busy’ is a blanket statement for our life, for our culture, for our mindset. Why are we so busy being busy?
There are two camps talking about busy. One almost idolizes ‘busy’. Hailing BUSY as progress and success. Progress and success are inherent to your value as a person. This is the culture we are in. There is an expectation to be busy, not ‘lazy’. Especially for moms.
The other camp says that busy is mindless activity without intention. That it is a reckless hustle that keeps you from being engaged and present with your life and loved ones. I lean more to this camp.
However, I don’t think we should dismiss an active life, some people thrive on that. What I think we need to pay attention to is doing the most important things for the right motives.
It all comes down to our motives for ‘being busy’.
How do you know if you are ‘busy’ or ‘productive’? How you feel at the end of the day will tell you.
Do you feel resentful or purposeful? Do you feel exhausted or energized?
I love to turn to a tool like the Enneagram for this because the Enneagram is so focused on our inner motives. You might view someone as busy, you might feel you are busy yourself – but we need to be mindful about what is driving us.
2. We don’t know what we want
The day I realized I didn’t want this hand-me-down pre-fabricated template of what a successful life looks like (double income, two cars, big house full of stuff, 2.5 kids, treadmill in the basement, vacations we can’t afford and keep the toys coming) it felt like my life was a blank canvas.
So, what do I want?
I didn’t know. I never really asked.
Knowing what you want is a little messy and it takes time.
There is a woman in you who is sitting in the dark shadows of your heart – she’s holding an old list of passions and plans and ideas on what to do this week, this month, this year. She’s still there even though you never listen to her. Make time for her and listen! (we will talk about this more next part of this series!)
3. We don’t know how to start
If you have thought a lot about simplifying your life, you have probably also met a lot of internal resistance. What reasons are popping up for you about why it’s not the ‘right time’?
There are seasons in our life where we truly have to wait for what we want. But, most of the time waiting is VOLUNTARY. It is a nice, rational excuse we might not even be aware we are using to delay starting.
In order to start something
you need to be ready
Do you feel like you have to keep putting out fires and chasing your tail? To be ready, this change needs to feel more important than the daily tasks currently draining your time. Maybe you feel like you are waiting for ‘permission’ from a partner or mentor or onlooker to tell you that you are allowed to or are ready (if this is you, here is your permission, your sign, your green light!)
you need to be willing
Have you made up your mind that it IS TIME? Do you feel motivated by what the change will bring you, have you rooted in WHY this matters for you? Are you willing to make the tough decisions and do the hard work that is required to start?
you need to feel able
Have you made this too complicated in your head when starting can be so simple? Do you let lack of confidence stop you? Are you willing to start even if you are starting alone and without the support of your spouse or kids?
4. We don’t know how to maintain it
If I could just find the perfect checklist my life would be easy, or that cleaning routine to finally have a clean house.
I am the first one to advocate for making list and plans, but maintaining ANYTHING also needs motivation and strategy to maintain.
Often we look to the ways others get things done and get frustrated when they don’t work for us.
The problem is we need to have some trial and error to see what will work in our own lives and with our own unique mindsets.
We will dig into this more in the final part of this series.
5. We aren’t showing up well
I will talk about this more in Part Three as well because this is the BIGGEST ONE. In all my experience as an adult woman, wife, life coach, friend, and mom I feel that everything comes down to this one thing: how we show up.
No matter what is happening in your life, you still get to choose how you show up. WE CHOOSE IT – through intention, and we HOLD OURSELVES ACCOUNTABLE – through mindfulness and support.
There have been years of my life where happiness and peace and love was available to me. But I grumbled and was frustrated and denied the happiness before me and the ways I was being loved. I delayed all of the happiness for ‘when things are better’, ‘when we aren’t fighting’, ‘when I’m not in this job anymore’, ‘when my babies are sleeping’, when this season is over, ‘when this person stops being a dum-dum because I’m a victim of their attitude’.
When we get rooted in the person we WANT to be, we get rooted in what our personal values are and how we want to show up.
Our life will never ever feel simple or be simple until we can show up well for it: with feelings that are proactive, positive, and present.
My kids are wild goats, my husband didn’t read my mind, we didn’t pack enough snacks, the water is too cold, the traffic is too slow. No matter what is happening externally, showing up with love, humour, patience, adventure (whatever your personal values are) is still an internal job and totally possible! This all takes work to learn, and practice to make it part of our daily lives.
6. We are making a statement
I’ve said before that I was a mom martyr. My life was tough and my husband needed to know it, feel it, see it, taste it! It was messy but it was also a cry for help I wasn’t answering for myself.
I didn’t feel capable of all that was required of me. Even though, I was also the one who built up the tower of expectations.
If we say we want to make a change, but we almost live in a way that is the opposite we are probably making a statement to our own inner beliefs or to the expectation of others. On the surface, that statement says ‘how can you expect me to make these changed when I can’t even maintain things as they are’. Underneath that is someone who doesn’t feel willing, ready or able and is looking to others to remove these ‘expectations’ or confirm their belief that they aren’t capable.
7. We don’t think our resources are important or precious
My husband is a hero at keeping our vehicle clean. He maintains it and takes out the garbage. He tends to it and keeps it nice because it is something precious to him.
I see him tending to things like gutters or jars of nails and feel a little confused. It isn’t how I was raised, to tend to things. To keep them in good shape so they can be used to their fullest for many years. I didn’t see the importance of it so much or felt like it was worth the effort. My home space and physical energy would have not been invested in taking care of my home if it wasn’t learning it through him.
(I like to think I’ve taught him the value of investing in rest and relationships, as much as he has taught me to take care of the physical space and items that are important to us).
We look at all our resources through a lens of how ‘renewable’ or ‘precious’ they are to us.
For some of us, we fritter away time – it feels like an endless desert instead of a fleeting haven. For some of us, we keep our health on the back burner and then feel frustrated when we can’t physically do all we want to do.
Every resource is yours to be a good steward of, which resource feels most neglected?
8. We can’t say no to others
Do you know what really complicates life? Other people. Because our resources are available to the masses. We volunteer, we donate, we create, we provide, we show up. AS we are meant to! We are meant to live in community and many of us are moms who are also using our resources caring for the needs of our families. Serving in your community is worthy and necessary unless you have a problem saying ‘no’ to others.
Things feel noble when we are someone who ‘puts others first’, but all this serving can still be a form of striving for security and acceptance.
9. We can’t say no to ourselves
This is one of my favourites because I was a professional self-saboteur for many years.
Many of you are thinking ‘I say no to myself all the time! That is why my life is so full and busy! I’m doing so much for everyone!’.
I’m not talking about ‘putting ourselves first’. I am talking about having self-control and showing up for ourselves to actually follow through on the actions we know we want – the ones that give us life instead of distracting us from life.
Just as we need to say no to others when the drain on our resources is getting too much – we also need to say no to ourselves when we are mismanaging our resources.
It is hard to say no to ourselves. We can all take a day to watch ourselves and see the ways it is happening: We don’t say no to the thing we want to buy, to the hour we just spent on social media, to the bag of ketchup chips we just ate, to the easy task instead of the hard task, to spouting off in anger (I’m raising my hand at all of these!).
So much of our life feels hard and hopeless because we say no to the hard and yes to the easy.
10. We don’t see that we DO have control
I would say this reason was a major part of me deciding to start intentional living.
If we have a mentality that life ‘happens at us’ we will find a lot of our day to day is spent putting out fires, reacting to whatever comes us. Because this ‘life happens at me’ mentality is what we are thinking, we will act accordingly and we will never FEEL in control and will never BE in control.
When we become aware that we actually DO have control, we also become aware that nobody else will ever do this for us. It is our responsibility, our right and our privilege to take control of our life.
In the next part of You Can Simplify Your Life we are going to dig into how to identify the life you DO want, and how you want to SHOW UP!
Then in the final part (Part Four), we will outline the steps you can take to get started living a SIMPLER LIFE!
To get more out of this lesson, download the freebie worksheets. They will go through each of these ten points, with a checklist of indicators this reason might apply to you, and give you some life coaching homework to apply to it. I am super proud of these worksheets. I think they will really help you dig into things and provide a lot of opportunities to learn and grow. And if you are interested in Life Coaching Services, email me or book a free mini-session.