Time flies. You know that. But it doesn’t mean you have to fly with it. In fact, let me make a case for taking it slow and simple.
Two years ago, when I was still living in the hustle and bustle of London, slow and simple wasn’t even in my dictionary. However, fast, busy and complicated were. And not in a good way.
Sure, I had a job I loved as The Happyologist and nothing made me happier than seeing the transformations my many clients went through. Working for myself, I got to create my own schedule and call my own shots but somehow the speedy city life sucked me into a manic routine of running from one place to another with very little time to stop and breathe.
If work wasn’t on the agenda, social events and training and competing my horse were. I was stretched way too thin and ended most days feeling depleted and drained. Really, it was the opposite of slow and simple and I knew I couldn’t keep it up for much longer.
Then, when the opportunity to move to rural France in Autumn 2018 came up, I jumped at the chance. It was the perfect time to slow down the pace and switch to a simpler lifestyle. Or so I thought.
The first six months were just as manic as they had been in London. Sure, the fresh country air cleared my lungs and the healing energy of nature wrapped itself around me. But I still struggled to slow down and ended up looking for ways to stay busy. This wasn’t difficult as my horse had come to France with me, we had a 3-month-old puppy in the house and we were living in our old, converted barn that needed plenty of love.
My husband and I threw ourselves into the renovations, so much so that it took us six months to do what we were meant to do in two years. Needless to say, I was feeling a bit drained again. More fulfilled for sure, but again a little low on juice. That’s when I knew I needed to slow it down. I decided to take 2019 off as a sabbatical from client work and focused my energy on building our new life in France. It worked. By the time autumn 2019 came around, I was feeling calmer and more content than ever.
That’s why when it came to choosing a word for 2020, I chose simplify.
Initially, I actually chose minimalism but after sitting with it for a month, it didn’t feel right. Somehow, a girl with a big travel rucksack with all her belongings in it comes to mind when I think of that word and I didn’t like it. It also brought too much pressure to eliminate too much from my life and hence I looked for the next best thing, which ended up being simplify.
Focus on what matters most and eliminate what doesn’t. This makes it very easy for you to prioritise and opens up a lot of your time and energy. It’s amazing how much time you realise you’re wasting when you take a good, hard look on how you spend your time. By simplifying your work, you’ll only do the important things and have a lot more energy and time to do even more fun stuff.
Unitask. That’s right. Do one thing at a time. When you’re focusing on a task, put your phone on silent or aeroplane mode, and turn your email notifications off. Just focus on what your number one priority is right now. Finish one task before starting another one. Take your time. Do it well. Enjoy it.
Do a major house cleanse. I’m talking every cupboard, every drawer, and every storage box. Just don’t try to do it all at once. Take your time with it and you’ll do it properly. If it takes you the whole year to do this, that’s ok. That simply means you’re doing it well! The only things left in your house should be beautiful or practical – or better yet, both!
I’ve been practising Marie Kondo’s Tidying up method for years but I want to take it a step further and create a capsule wardrobe. This means a lot fewer clothes, shoes and accessories, but a lot more joy as everything (or at least most of) what is left you love. This means some major purging is on the agenda and I can’t wait. I find it incredibly cleansing to purge!
Say no to events you are not excited about. Avoid scheduling things in a way that forces you to rush from one place to another. Leave space for reflection and for some me-time. Leave space to just be.
A simple life means simple relationships. It means focusing on a select few quality ones rather than overwhelming yourself with a million ones. This can be a hard one to swallow but it’s one you are in charge of. You know whether you’re an extrovert or introvert and how much socialising you enjoy to do. You know which people in your life are lifting you higher and which are holding you back. Be honest with yourself about this.
Simple aligns with sustainably as less is wasted. What you cook, you eat. What you wear, you love. The things you buy, you cherish. You go for organic and fairtrade when you can. You try to eat less meat and more local.
Do things for pleasure and progress, not recognition. Don’t do them because you’ve always done them but because you genuinely currently enjoy them. For example, I used to compete with my horse 10 to 20 times a year. When I came to France and took a break from it, I realised I didn’t miss it. So I haven’t gone back to it. I’m not saying I never will but I’m saying that pleasure takes priority over anything else. If the thought of competing doesn’t excite me, I’m not doing it again until it does.
In short, if you want to keep it slow and simple, eliminate the unnecessary stresses, hassles and tasks from your life. Do only what matters and do it well. That’s how you win at life. That’s how you create your very own path of calm and contentment.