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“Life is not graded on how fast you can move through it but rather how much you can enjoy it.” —Mary Carlomagno, author of Live More, Want Less: 52 Ways to Find Order in Your Life
Over the weekend, I found myself with free time on my hands. Free time in such grand amounts that I pinched myself to make sure it was true. And when I finally realized I wasn’t dreaming, I simply sat there for awhile with my dogs at my side soaking up the sun just outside my back door. In that moment the contentment I felt was indescribable.
I am confident that the reason we choose to work so hard, so furiously, is so that we can have similar moments as the one described above. The beauty of such moments is that there isn’t anything extravagant or excessive about them. Such moments aren’t hard to attain until we make it so. But often, we do have to put forth a great amount of effort and work through weekends at times to achieve this level of comfort. It is when every weekend and each day of the week in fact is overwhelmed with demands, and we become so acclimated to the speed of our lives that we accept it as normal and healthy to living simply luxuriously. Sadly, such living is not simple and it is not luxurious. Here are a few signs that we’ve been living at a break-neck speed for far too long:
Signs of a Too Speedy Life:
- Forgetting basic information you used to remember (turning off the curling iron, returning calls and emails to family and friends, names of people you want to remember, etc)
- The daily to-do list is daunting on a regular basis, leaving no room for free time
- Eating and/or fitness habits have gone by the wayside, due to lack of time to plan
- Home is merely a place to sleep, eat and run back out into the world
- Why you are so busy becomes unclear, and simply making it through the day or week is your goal
- No time for your favorite pastimes (reading, time with friends/family, losing track of time, gardening, etc)
For some, a busy life excludes time with those we love and we miss this time dearly, for others the incessant demands of others, even those we love becomes constricting because we haven’t had time to just be on our own, to catch our breath. I fall into the latter category, and find if I don’t have time to step away from others regularly, I am not at my best. Perhaps that is the introvert in me, but why I share this is that for each of us, we must know what fuels us and regularly include that in our schedule. It is when we lose this fuel, that we each become discombobulated, disoriented and begin to make decisions that don’t help us to achieve the dreams we are seeking or the life we wish to live.
Ways to Get Back to Simple:
1. Start at the foundation – Financial Security
The surest and easiest way to know how you’re doing, if you can do it and when you will be able to do it is to become familiar with your finances. Make a monthly (perhaps bi-monthly date) to sit down and balance your budget. Know where your money goes and manage your assets wisely. When you know how much you can spend, you begin to live more purposely and decisions become easier. Saying no comes without hesitation if the proposed spending would deplete successful steps to your goals, and when you aren’t saying yes to everything – that fabulous designer skirt that just went on sale – more money stays in your account as you save up for your dreams. When you get your finances in order, you life begins to follow. (Find more ways to master your money here.)
2. Create a filing system for incoming paper
The bills, receipts, tax documents and other daily mail will arrive, even if we opt-out of paper bills (there always seems to be something), so create a filing system that keeps items in their place for easy access, or discover ways of going paperless as much as possible to truly simplify your life. Turbo Scan, for example, is a great app for filing receipts and other documents electronically that you don’t want in paper form. Simply take a quick pic (or however many you need), save and file in your Dropbox or Cloud. Click here for specific tips on how to organize your office and all the paperwork.
3. Become comfortable with saying “No”
When you become clear about your priorities, you enable yourself to say no to those invitations, jobs and other tasks that don’t align with what you need your energy for. Saying “No” is a way of marking your boundaries and respecting your time and your ability to complete what you do end up saying “Yes” to to the best of your ability. Ultimately, you are showing yourself respect and those you do commit to which is quite liberating and rewarding.
4. Jump start maintenance routines
Last week I shared with you a list of routines to help maintain the simply luxurious life you have worked so hard to create. Sometimes these routines get bulldozed by other demands that we initially thought were important, but later realize they are eroding the quality of our lives. Take a moment to reassess and get back on track. You’ll be amazed how quickly and easily simply putting these routines back to work can change the tone and ease of your life.
5. Take time to take care of your health
Eating well, working out regularly, getting enough sleep. Often these three vital components get cheated when our lives speed up. Just remember that without the proper fuel, tune-ups and check-ups, our lives can run out of gas and begin to crumble. So if that means saying no to a quick day trip to save on gas so you can buy the healthy organic produce for your weekly sack lunches, remember the investment you’re making – your health and your mood.
6. Turn off the technology regularly
With the incessant “pings” that alert us to messages, emails and demands on our time, we often try to keep up with the pace that technology sets when what we should be doing is setting the pace that works for our lives and allowing technology to aid us in increasing our productivity when we are at work. This is one item I have been working on, and I can safely say, when I step away from my technology, even if for an afternoon or evening, I feel as though I have caught my breath. Take time to master it before it masters you. Click here to learn more benefits of unplugging.
7. Remember the purpose
As I reveled in my many moments of breathing space this past weekend, I was quickly reminded of the life I have been working so hard to create for myself – a life of true simple luxuriousness. A life that allows for moments of leisure and pleasure and time to dabble in hobbies and lose track of time. Such moments shouldn’t be so fleeting or so spread out. When we are reminded of the reason why we work so hard, earn the money we make and spend time away from the lives we love to earn that money, letting go of the unnecessary and grabbing onto our self-discipline becomes that much easier.
Always keep in mind that you are living your life. You are the only one who is responsible for the path that you take. You can say no or you can be shamed or riddled with guilt to say yes to things that would impede the life you are working so hard to create. Only you can find the strength to organize and structure a life that is rich, rewarding and fulfilling. Some will understand, others will not. It isn’t necessarily their fault that they don’t understand, but it is our fault for not standing up for the lives we wish to live.
So today, take a moment to catch your breath and check your speed. Are you within your allotted speed limit or are you speeding excessively? Just as police officers issue tickets to drivers who are driving beyond the limits not to harass but to keep the roads, the driver (and their passengers) safe, so must we keep our life speed in check in order to keep our lives in control and on track.
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