In our culture, we have access to so much that we often lose sight of how luck we really are. We sacrifice our joy and we obscure our enjoyment along our quest to do or have more. We amass culture and commodities, yet, we have no time and sometimes no ability to appreciate them.
There are things that we can do to change this and these things are simpler than you’d expect.
1. Slooooow Things Down
Symbolically, winter is the season of endings. Shorter days and colder weather – particularly in my New England hometown – drive people inward, both into their homes and into themselves.
We can learn something from this.
Over the holidays, it’s custom to run from event to event, over-spend on gifts, and wrap things up for the year. These customs leave no time for us to pause or reflect. Instead, we find ourselves repeating the same-old-same-old, year upon year. No where in the cycle of our year are we cued to pause and take stock. Yet, what would happen if we did stop to ask ourselves: “Am I doing what I want to do?”
Taking time to reflect and gain perspective is an important part of our every day – and is an essential part of our every year.
I invite you to try this out. Ask yourself: “What might be gained if I set aside some time in the next few weeks to pause and reflect?” “What is truly important to me?” And “What might happen if I made those things central to my plan for 2016?”
2. Pay Attention to What You Really Love
Many years ago, I read a book about clearing clutter. It said: “If you don’t love it, get rid of it.” That made a lot of sense to me at the time and I have since applied this idea to my life over and over again.
Clutter doesn’t just build up in our closets – it also builds up in our relationships, our work environments, and even in our heads and hearts. We have a lot of choice about the clutter that we let persist in our lives. However, we tend to act as if we don’t.
So ask yourself: “Where is the clutter in my life?” “In which parts of my life am I squirreling away debris or sweeping things under the rug?” “Where am I just going through the motions?”
If you don’t love it, maybe it’s time to let it go. Give yourself the gift of uncluttered head-space, heart-space and home-space.
3. Recognize that Trade-Offs Aren’t Such a Bad Thing
In his book Essentialism, Greg McKeown wrote that a person who is an “Essentialist” recognizes there are trade-offs in life, and so they make deliberate decisions. “Non-essentialists,” on the other hand, try to do it all. Because of this, they often miss out on more of what life has to offer.
Those are some wise words.
This tends to happen A LOT this time of year. Many of us try to shoehorn time with family and friends into a tight and frenzied holiday season. In our over-packed lives, we barely have space time for ourselves, never mind spare time for others. Because of this, we can end up feeling resentful about spending time with the people we truly want to see. If that’s not getting things backwards, I’m not sure what is.
The hard truth for many of us is that we need to accept that we cannot do it all.
When we accept this, we begin to look at our lives and decide what is MOST important to us and organize our priorities accordingly. Knowing our priorities helps us to make the best possible choices. And these are the choices that bring us to where we truly want to go.
So ask yourself: What are you priorities for the upcoming year? How are you going to keep them at the front of your mind?