A fulfilling life is difficult to achieve if you are constantly overwhelmed. Unfortunately, today’s world moves faster than ever.
When I started in law enforcement I was issued a pager to wear on my days off. Weekend phone messages for me at work were taken down on a small message pad. The dispatcher would leave the messages in my office mailbox.
The message pad had boxes to check such as “call back,” “urgent,” etc. For the most part, absent court or training, my weekends were free of interruptions. How times have changed. I now wear an iPhone on my hip pretty much 24/7. I can’t escape work even if I wanted to. So much for those carefree, relaxing weekends of yesteryear.
Technology certainly enables us to accomplish a great deal more. While I’m waiting in line to pick up a prescription I can check my emails on my phone, send messages, take notes and more. I’ve read that this is called “batching” whereby you accomplish more than one task at a time. With interfaced calendars my personal and work life is interlinked and scheduled out.
All of this innovation makes me more effective and thus productive. Productivity is often rewarded with career advancement, which in turn brings more responsibility and income. More income invites more consumption and more things. The result is more clutter, noise, commitments, headaches and stress. What’s the answer? How about that age old acronym K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid.) Allow me to explain.
There has been a growing movement toward better work/life balance and the principle of “less is more.” People are reevaluating what’s really important to them. There’s nothing wrong with ambition and the desire to be financially successful but not if the cost is poor health and unhappiness.
In my career I’ve met lots of people who have well paying jobs and gorgeous homes. Guess what? A lot of them are unhappy. They are chained to their mortgages and car payments. Others have great financial wealth but are stressed out and unhealthy. Maybe these folks should reevaluate what’s important and start applying the “Keep It Simple Stupid” principle.
Awhile back I started reading two blogs that focus on simplicity and minimalism. One is entitledTheMinimalists.com and features two chaps ( Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus) who left successful corporate jobs to move to Montana and become writers.
Both felt lingering discontent in their lives and concluded that the typical American dream didn’t cut it anymore. That dream, by the way, is usually a six figure income, big house, nice cars and cool stuff. They were both “successful” but working 70-80 weeks, juggling debt and depressed. As they say on their blog ” we didn’t have control of our time and thus didn’t control our own lives.”
So, in 2011 they left their corporate careers at age 30 to become full-time authors and speakers. They adopted the philosophy of “minimalism” and downsized their lives. They sold most of their stuff and got out of debt. They bought a small cabin in Montana and focused on better diets and exercise. They read more, got outside more and pursued their passion for writing and speaking.
They created a minimalistic blog (which is where I got the idea to “calm” my own blog with simplicity and black and white images.) Basically they decided to “Keep It Simple Stupid” and reinvented themselves. The result? They became very successful doing what they really love. Now they sell their books, blog and go on speaking tours. Do yourself a favor and visit their blog. I’ve learned a lot from these guys.
The other blog you should read is Leo Babauta’s ZenHabits.com. Leo’s blog “is about finding simplicity in the daily chaos of our lives.” Leo’s blog explores the value of clearing the clutter and focusing on what’s important. Leo lives in San Francisco with his six kids and wife. He describes himself as a writer, runner and vegan. Leo’s blog is probably the most minimalistic blog I’ve seen yet but his lessons on simplicity are up-lifting.
Fortunately for me my wife is a very organized person and abhors clutter. We take unneeded items to the Goodwill and avoid the compulsion to buy stuff we don’t need. Having a spouse that shares one’s desire to “Keep It Simple Stupid” certainly helps.
Increasingly, I’ve learned to say no to commitments that don’t enhance my work/life balance. Adopting the K.I.S.S. principle will focus you on letting go of stuff you don’t need, buy less, manage your time better, eat less, exercise more and generally start feeling better about your life.
We are all in different seasons of our lives. Perhaps you can’t do something as drastic as quit your job and move to Montana. But you certainly can simplify by eliminating clutter, buying less stuff, donating things, saying no to people who want to spend your time for you, etc. There are plenty more lessons in the blogs I suggested. You can improve your life and be happier. A big part of that can start by learning to “Keep It Simple Stupid!”