Simplicity. It’s a beautiful word, isn’t it? The irony is that simplicity isn’t simple.
“The biggest challenge for everyone living today is how to adjust to a continual increase of complexity in every area of life.” (Dan Sullivan, Founder of Strategic Coach)
Here are three steps to take you on the road to simplicity.
Own your life
The first step to simplicity is responsibility. I need to “own” my life, facing the fact that the life I’m living is the result of the decisions I’ve made. We all have circumstances we don’t control, but we do control how we respond to those circumstances.
I love the words of Henry Cloud, “You are ridiculously in charge of your life”. I have to admit when it comes to simplicity I am my own worst enemy—saying yes to too many requests, not having healthy boundaries, ignoring my limits and trying to please everyone. I am not the victim, I am the perpetrator.
Get clear about who you are and who you aren’t
Many voices shape and inform our sense of identity and that can lead to confusion. We start living the life others want us to live rather than a life that flows from our personal values, longings, priorities, gifts, and personality.
Lack of clarity around who I am and what is truly important to me will lead to complexity and clutter.
All my life I have been a type A, driven, ambitious, over-achieving person. The script I’ve lived by for years has been…work hard, be responsible and do good– that’s how you get affirmed and loved.
When that’s the script you live by, you are always focused on achieving. At least for me, the end result was a compulsively busy and complicated life. While these scripts impact us and shape us, we don’t have to be held captive by them. I can re-write my script and live differently.
Identify the higher yes
Once you are clear about your purpose and what you value, you have to put a firewall around them by learning to say “no.”
What helps is understanding that every “no” is rooted in a higher “yes”. The higher “yes” is your purpose, your values, your “true north” — the “must do’s” of your life.
Saying no to a sketchy business deal is rooted in the higher yes of integrity and honesty.
Saying no to watching Jimmy Fallon is rooted in the higher yes of getting up to exercise the next morning.
Saying no to a business dinner is rooted in the higher yes of being at your kid’s soccer games.
Saying no to a requested meeting is rooted in the higher yes of needing “think time”.
“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” –Hans Hofmann
What is holding you back from a simpler, less complicated life?
What step could you take this week to bring greater simplicity?
What can you change to re-write your script?