I recently read an article I loved, called Why ambition is overrated. In it the author admits that she has a few simple pleasures in life, and only wants to do the work she needs to in order to enjoy these things.
For example, things such as eating good food, reading books and watching a films. Simple.
Her aim is to work enough – and not much more.
“I am constantly amazed by the blasé professional assumption that everyone should work an hour later than they are contracted, and take ten minute lunch breaks at their desk (if at all).” – Megan Nolan
And I think that’s a pretty good aim. Most of us just want to enjoy the simple things. But we get sucked into social pressures, feel that we’ve got to work harder, keep up, not get left behind.
As much as I’m interested in self-development and improving things in your life you’re not happy with (job, living situation, morning routine), I’m actually a big fan of a more ‘slacker’ attitude.
Part of the reason I moved to Spain a couple of years ago was that I wanted a simpler life. I was reacting badly to London life. I wanted less stress, less pressure, more sun, a better social life.
Things are slower here, on a smaller scale. My social life is simpler and easier. Here I have friends available to meet for a coffee or wine at a moment’s notice, never further than a short walk or bike ride away.
What’s important for you
Of course moving to another country isn’t for everyone, and, it’s not the only solution when things aren’t going well in your life.
But working out for yourself what you want in life IS important.
And that article is a good reminder to take note of what you’re really aiming for in life. For me this means:
I don’t have to have the big corporate career, a job title that impresses others and to fit in to what’s often considered as success.
It’s about working out what’s important to you, and finding ways to integrate those things into your life.
Creating a lifestyle that’s right for you.
The ideal is doing work that you enjoy, that feels of value and that support you financially.
But equally important is actually having time for your home life, your social life, time with friends and family and hobbies and just not doing.
It’s up to you
I hope this post helps if you’re feeling the pressure, feeling dissatisfied and wanting to make changes to your life.
I love it when someone reminds me that doing less isn’t necessarily a bad thing. So here we are. Do less, do what YOU want, do what suits you. Make changes, one step at a time.
If you’d like to book a coaching session with me, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
September is the perfect time of year to reset. Back to work, back to routines.
You may have fallen out of your normal routine over the holidays (like me). Now’s the ideal opportunity to take a look at how you’re spending your time and what you changes you can make. What do you need to reset?
As I’ve started back at work I’ve been keeping an eye on some of my habits. In particular:
How I spend my time online (internet, social media, mobile)
What I eat
Here are some ideas and tips on simplifying and being more aware of how you’re spending your time. I hope it inspires you!
Having had a break from work, my computer, even my mobile, I’m looking at things afresh and aiming to streamline everything.
On my laptop I’m backing up files onto Dropbox or a USB stick. I’m deleting files and folders I no longer use, or reorganising so they make more sense. I love decluttering and keeping things nice and organised.
Two weeks away with my boyfriend staying with various friends and family (heaven!) meant that I had limited time for Whatsapp – and less inclination to scroll through out of boredom. I looked maybe once or twice a day.
I struggle with the pressures of Whatsapp. The obligation to reply quickly, getting into a conversation when it’s not good timing, being added to groups…
So I’m trying to stick to the holiday vibe. Keeping notifications off – and resisting the temptation to sneak a peak when I’m bored (trying to, anyway).
I aim to wait until mid-morning for my first look, and to stop looking after 9 or 10pm. Hopefully I can stick this one out.
Which leads to…
Over the summer I’ve gotten out of the habit of looking at Instagram when I have a spare couple of minutes or am feeling bored. I want to keep this up.
As soon as I start scrolling I start feeling frustrated/overwhelmed, and I can’t stop! And this is even with my tightly curated feed of only around 10 accounts, designed to inspire me.
There are a couple of people I follow who share interesting round-ups of what’s going on in the world. I really enjoy them and learn from them. So I may venture back on and cull even further – only keeping people who are genuinely adding to my day.
As with Instagram, I’d gotten into the habit of looking whenever I wanted a ‘hit’. What’s going on in the news, any articles to read, what are my favourite Twitter people saying (mainly authors and journalists).
But I end up scrolling without stop – saving article after article to read – clogging up my ‘to read’ bookmark folder.
To be honest – this is a hard one to shake, it’s still a nice little break between work tasks. But I’ve started setting a timer. 10 minutes only, to save me from the wormhole and to save my eyes from the scrolling.
I’ve learned these past few months about eating in sync with your hormones. It’s so interesting. There are certain things you can eat more of to aid your body and mood as your hormones are going up or down depending on the week of your menstrual cycle.
For example I’ve read that when you are menstruating it’s good to include more iron from sources such as spinach, lentils and dried prunes. It’s such a no-brainer yet it’s not something I’ve been consciously doing.
I’ve written myself a list of good foods to eat each week of my cycle. I’m aiming to add what I can to my meals or snacks each week. A couple of websites with information on this areFlo Living and Moody Month.com.
I’m also being more aware of what exercise is most suitable for each week of my cycle. Some weeks I’ll benefit from more high intensity workouts, other weeks my body will suit calmer, more soothing exercise such as yoga. Read more here.
Apart from a smallish contribution to an ISA each month and private pension payments, I’d gotten into the habit of only saving what was left in my bank account at the end of the month. Which is often unimpressive.
My new thing is to transfer a realistic amount to savings at the start of each month. I then have to plan my budgeting around that, rather than vice versa. I’ve realised that if you want to regularly save it has to take priority.
Get that notebook out and get planning
So those are a few things I’m trying which I think are going to improve my every day.
What are you doing to reset at this time of year? Is there something that’s been nagging at you, that you can solve, improve, stop?
Is now the time to finally sit down, have a think, and work out what to do? Do you need to set up a few small steps to get there? Do you need to just get started?
PS If you’d like to try a life coaching session with me, email me at email@example.com.
I’m the sort of person that loves routine. I enjoy my morning routine, it sets me up for the day, leaving me feeling awake and ready to get to work. And I like my daily work routine, my coffee break mid-morning, and my lunchtime stroll in the park.
If for some reason I can’t follow my normal routine, everything feels in disarray. For a day or two, it’s fine, it’s a novelty and I’m having fun travelling or staying with a friend. But after two or three days out of my routine, I miss it.
I crave walking on my own, long walks listening to podcasts. My body misses the stretches of morning yoga. I long for 10 spare minutes to listen to a meditation. My writing goes off kilter, and I realise on Friday morning that I have no blogpost to publish.
More than anything, I need a bit of time on my own, no chatting, no listening, no voices. Just me getting on with my stuff.
The pressure of being productive
This week I was reminded how in the media and online there’s an intense pressure to be the most efficient you can be, the most productive, the most calm and unflappable. All around there are examples of morning routines, productivity hacks, other people telling us what works for them. Things you must do to get x result.
I’ve written before about information overload and how I’m always trying to strip things back to the bare essentials in terms of consuming information. Ironically, having recently written a few posts about productivity and efficiency, I realise I could be adding to the noise.
If hearing about other people’s lives leaves you feeling bad, or that you’re not doing enough, it’s probably healthier to dial down the noise and concentrate on doing your thing.
The thing is, I love hearing about how other people work, how they spend their days and what their morning or day time routines consist of (for example here). I find it fascinating what works for one person and doesn’t for another. Or rather, what appeals to me and what doesn’t.
Other people’s routines can seem pretty dull and strict. Chanting for 30 minutes upon waking then drinking hot water with lemon doesn’t appeal to me. Nor does waking at 5am to walk on a treadmill whilst checking emails and catching the news headlines. It sounds like a punishment rather than a great way to start the day.
What I really like is reading about people whose routines are totally different to mine, and which sound fun. Perhaps they don’t have any fixed routine. Maybe they wake up and write for 2 hours straight, only drinking coffee. Or they roll out of bed as late as possible, grab a croissant and coffee to go and put their makeup on in the tube.
And learning about how other people go about their lives can be helpful. You might uncover something that hits a nerve, and makes you see things differently, do things differently.
I remember reading about someone working in publishing who would snatch any moment throughout the day they could to read – getting through a staggering amount of books a month – and that made me prioritise reading more.
Sometimes it’s good to refresh the routine you’ve settled into and consciously aim to make your day more enjoyable, or relaxed, or easy.
What works for you
I think the most important point is – find out what works for you.
If you love a bit of unpredictability, no set routine and going with how you feel in the moment, brilliant. Perhaps a bit of chaos gets the adrenaline going. If like me you feel overwhelmed by lack of routine, and like things to feel a bit ordered, that’s fine too. But it probably does me good to mix it up every once in a while and not be too set in my ways.
I wanted to write a post to help anyone out there feeling as though nothing about their situation is ever going to change. You’re wondering if this is it, if this is the best you can do. You feel as though you’re stuck in a rut. You can’t imagine achieving all those things you want to, they feel too big, too far away.
I felt like that for a long time. For years everything was ok, pretty good even overall all things considered. But there were some areas of my life I was really quite unhappy with. And the feeling of being stuck, paralysed, scared, grew and grew.
I just found a post in my journal from three years ago. Here are some of my big 5-year goals from that year.
5 -Year Goals
Publish a book about living in Spain, and do a talk/interview about it
Complete a life coaching qualification
Set up a coaching business
Meet a foreign boyfriend
Do art as a hobby, maybe illustration
Dance often – learn to salsa well
Live in a beautiful, sunny apartment
Be close to my nieces and family
Save money each month
Have a great social life – meals out, cinema, dancing
Blog about coaching related things
Blog about life in Spain
Move to Spain
Take a road trip in the US
And you know how many of those things I’ve achieved?
Well, I’ve yet to take the US road trip and it’s still very much on the list. I decided to concentrate on the coaching side of blogging rather than writing about life in Spain. I haven’t yet published a book. But everything else on that list, I achieved. There’s been a lot of change.
When I wrote this list, this was all a total dream. I was in a transition period, I’d recently left a decade long career and started a new job, and was still restless. This wasn’t where I wanted to be. Living in London, not content with my social life, my love life, my finances. I’d started wondering if living in Spain could be a reality.
Three years on I can’t believe how simple it seems, in retrospect, to get what you want. However, as you go through it it doesn’t feel simple at all. There are lots of ups and downs, lots of firsts, lots of getting out of your comfort zone and wondering what the hell you are doing.
But really, it’s a matter of writing down what you want, being honest with yourself, listening to your heart (or gut). Then doing everything you can to get there.
Once you clarify what you want – staying absolutely true to yourself and forgetting about what other people think or want for you – then it’s a matter of holding onto your dream, staying excited and taking one small step at a time.
I formulated a plan for moving to Spain – read here.
I built up to starting a coaching business – read here.
Will I ever tire of reading stuff to do with decluttering and simplifying your life? Probably not.
A few years back when I was feeling pretty lost in my career, I spent a whole Christmas holiday on my parent’s sofa, obsessively reading the Becoming Minimalist blog. Reading about paring down, simplifying, and getting rid of clutter, made me feel better. It was soothing. It did something to my mind, relaxed me, maybe released some of the mental tension I’d been holding.
The thought of shedding things I didn’t really want or need, things that were weighing me down, and paring down to the things I truly loved, felt like I’d be freeing myself somehow.
When you’re feeling a little out of control – with me it was in regards to my career – decluttering can be a sort of antidote. It’s one area of your life you can control. You can declutter and then limit what physical items come into your life. It’s the ultimate lifestyle edit. It helps calm the mind.
Since then whenever I feel a little bit out of control, overwhelmed, with too much going on in my head, I turn to thoughts of simplifying and decluttering.
1. Physical decluttering
Physically decluttering, having a good old sort out, then keeping things organised, makes your day-to-day life better. You know where to find things, and it’s pleasing to the eye.
I’m calmer if my home is clean and tidy and not a disorganised mess, with things to catch my eye and annoy me, and take my concentration.
2. Digital decluttering
It’s not only physical items. Now digital decluttering is more important than ever. There’s so much being thrown at us all the time, not only what’s going on in our own monkey minds but also the relentless influx of digital content; different platforms on which to view content, interesting articles, things to look into, to follow up on, to download, to read, to try out, to buy, to consider…
It’s amazing because there’s so much inspiration out there and there’s so much to do. But there’s no stop button.
So the only way is to streamline. Strip back to the basics and focus. Decluttering and reassessing processes is one way to do that.
I try to be aware of getting lost in the jumble of information overload.
There’s something really liberating about going through your phone and deleting unused apps and contacts. Closing down open webpages and deleting bookmarked items. All those things that take up space and time and attention, and really don’t need to be there. Maybe they’re out of date, or you just don’t use them.
Unfollowing people that add nothing to your life. Unsubscribing.
Just today a friend looked at my laptop for me as it wasn’t working properly. When he handed it back he’d tidied all the out of control shortcuts and screenshots into a neat little file for me to review and (ideally) delete. My homepage looks so appealing now – and I feel a little wash of calm when I look at it. Simple.
3. Mental decluttering
I constantly remind myself to keep things simple. My home, packing for a trip, social plans, a work project, my desktop – everything. It helps me to manage the barrage of things to do and think about.
I love writing lists and also splurging whatever’s going on in my head onto paper. Mentally decluttering, getting it out there rather than letting things whirl around in my head, or trying to remember too much.
What can you simplify in your life? What can you get rid of?
If you need help with making a change in your life, contact me for a coaching session. Send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll get in touch.