Have you ever had the feeling that you could get so much more done, achieve all your goals and have a super productive day, if you could just pause the reality of day to day life for a moment?
We are busier than ever before, that’s a fact. We live in a world which is always on, ready for our next task, request or need. Phones make it easier to work on a commute, grocery shop while you wait for the kids to be finished with their club activity, or even read and consume more news, knowledge and information between meetings. We feel a pressure to be always-on. To respond quickly to our ever growing to-do lists, social media feeds and event requests.
Even worse, we’re becoming pretty terrible at relaxing and taking a moment to rest, recover and reset. Now technology allows us to do anything, anywhere, we feel guilty taking more than an hour or two to do absolutely nothing. Sitting on the sofa reading a book on a Sunday no longer feels truly acceptable, especially when social media stories remind us that everyone else is out doing something productive, adventurous or inspiring.
But it is acceptable, and it’s needed more than ever in this busy environment we live in. As it becomes more normal to live an always-on life, we quickly lose focus on what matter, our priorities, and our goals. The noise of day to day living blurs the moments of importance with chores, tasks and must-dos.
Which is why living a more minimal life, regularly addressing and acknowledging your priorities, and ensuring the majority of what you spend your time doing brings you joy, is more valuable than ever before.
When you are spending your time on the things you love, the things you get happiness from, you will naturally achieve more. Ask yourself, is the approach you are taking today working? Do you feel like you are meeting your goals? Working towards what makes you happiest? Filling your days with the things which really matter?
If not, don’t panic, there’s five really simple ways you can make a change.
Know what matters
If you don’t know what you’re aiming for, then it’s unlikely you’re going to make the right decisions when it comes to prioritizing. Take some time to write down your five top priorities, and address what great looks like to you for the next five years.
Try not to add hard values to your goals if possible. Rather than stating you want to travel to ten countries, and feeling like you’ve failed if you only reach eight, shape your goal as simply to ‘travel more’.
If you want to be working in your dream role in five years, write down exactly what that role would offer you, rather than focusing on the title, pay or benefits. Dig into why you want that job in particular. If it’s for more flexible working, use that as your driver rather than the job itself.
By understanding what is behind our motivation for change, we become more aware of what really matters. We can then make sure our days are filled with the relevant things we need to do to make these dreams a reality, rather than the same repetitive day to day grind.
An example would be that my goal five years ago was to write more, and get some work published. I did this by deciding to keep a smaller house, which meant less cleaning, so more hours to write. I spent less on clothes so I could afford a yearly domain and website subscription, and I would write over my lunch breaks rather than scrolling through social media with a sandwich.
By having this goal in mind, I became a lot more aware of how I used my down-time, and now I have seen my blog have a huge boost in visits, and my work published by two major news sites. It’s great progress, and by keeping my priorities front of mind, I hope the trend continues.
Find your passion
You’re very unlikely to achieve great satisfaction from something unless you have a true love or value for it. Too often people keep pursuing jobs, dreams or aims because they attribute material or status success to it. If you don’t love what you do on a daily basis, no promotion will make you love it more.
Find what you love, do it daily, and work hard at it.
This becomes a lot easier when you live more minimally, as you no longer feel the need to have money for consuming for consuming’s sake. With less need for a tenth pair of boots, fancier model of car or branded champagne, you remove the stress of needing more money to do the things you love. You’re free to do the work you love, no matter the pay.
Don’t compare yourself to others
Everyone is living their own version of their best life, and the reality is, one person’s success and achievements is not relevant or comparable to yours.
Too often we don’t take the time to reflect, learn from and relish in our achievements as we are quickly onto seeking the next best thing. A few years’ ago I got a great promotion but it only felt brilliant for around three days, as I saw online that one of the people I followed in the digital industry had just won two awards for their work.
Our jobs didn’t compare, our stages in life were entirely different, and who knows what else was going on, but still, I compared my situation completely to theirs and suddenly my success felt insignificant and I set about working on the next goal.
These days, I try and value each and every opportunity, experience and achievement for what it is. Mine.
I don’t compare my life to the lives around me, as otherwise, I doubt I would ever be content. I have my five priorities listed, I know my own goals, and I am honestly happy and settled with the direction they are taking.
It took a long time to realise no two journeys, goals or experiences are the same, and no material goods can really reflect the true measure of success in life, happiness.
Stop glorifying being busy
Being busy isn’t a good thing. It no longer impresses me if I find someone doesn’t have the time for what they really value.
These days we often measure someone’s achievements with how busy they are. Honestly, I am proud to say that if I am too busy to do the things I love, I am not achieving.
Prioritize what matters, and if you don’t have the time to focus on it, work out what is getting in the way and find ways to remove it. Digitally detox to spend less time mindlessly scrolling, remove notifications which easily distract us, and set aside time to get the housekeeping done. Then, focus on you.
How many times have you planned to sit down and do something productive and been distracted because the desk is too cluttered, the room needs a quick clean first, or you have a job to do.
Remove this barrier by having a huge declutter and removing everything which truly doesn’t add value or isn’t necessary from your space.
Keep functional items, remove the noise, focus on your priorities.
At the end of the day, you can decide how you are going to prioritize and meet your goals, but if you strip away the things which don’t bring you joy, causes unnecessary distractions and drives negative comparisons, you’ll find that the path towards success is much easier, and brings a lot of happiness on the way.