SIMPLIFY || The Life Plan



Chapter- 2

Beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rythm depend on simplicity.

 SIMPLIFY


Simplicity is one of the most valuable, yet underrated qualities you can strive to embrace in your life. Simplifying your life gives you clarity, freedom from unnecessary effort and the ability to be fully present. When you do this, you effectively clear your mind so you can continue on your journey feeling confident and motivated.


After exploring the first section of the book, you now know your values and purpose, and when you’re at your best. You’ve also identified the lessons you’ve already learnt, the golden moments that pull you forward and your definition of success. You’ve created a foundation for your life.


The next step is to create a structure that will support your success. This means getting back to basics: clearing the clutter, deleting the drainers and setting some boundaries so that the obstacles we all encounter don’t bring your dreams crashing down.

Simplicity brings clarity

1 When you simplify your life, you stop wasting your precious energy.

2 The clarity this brings reduces ambiguity and eliminates doubt.

3 You then have the space and opportunity to set and achieve the goals that matter most to you.

  • Simplicity represents clarity, presence and freedom from effort.

What drains you?

Is your life full of clutter? We are living in the age of time famine and digital overload, and the expectation to be ‘on’ constantly means there has never been a more important time for us to decompress, declutter and recalibrate our minds and bodies to ensure our wellbeing.


High achievers often struggle with feeling cluttered, overwhelmed and overextended, because they take on a lot of commitments. Working parents know only too well how difficult it is to juggle work, life and play. But really, no-one is immune to the burden of being mentally cluttered: the barista at your local cafe may be chatting politely as he foams your latte, but he’s also wondering whether he should move in with his girlfriend, thinking about his plans for the weekend, wondering if he can afford to go to a music festival next month . . . and don’t those concert tickets go on sale tomorrow?


Drainers aren’t things we think about consciously, but are tasks in our subconscious. Decluttering your life helps eliminate them, creating a simpler, more streamlined environment. This is the big clean-out you’ll need to do before you can structure the new opportunities and strategies that support you to be your best, with optimal wellness in every part of your life.

CLEARING THE DRAINERS

Many people are surprised to realise how much satisfaction they can derive from doing small, seemingly inconsequential tasks, such as putting all their gadget chargers in one place, booking a check-up with the dentist or filing documents in their correct folders. These types of tasks may not seem like big priorities, but when they are left undone they can take up mental space and chip away at your everyday focus.


By making small adjustments to your routine, you can create space within your life to manage and create everything you want to achieve. These adjustments can be anything from getting out your clothes for the following day before you go to sleep at night to setting up automatic reminders in your phone to book in repeat appointments, like medical check-ups and haircuts. Clearing your drainers has a massive positive impact on your energy and your confidence, as you’ll experience the satisfaction of accomplishing something – especially if you remember to celebrate all of the wins, big and small, along the way.

{ DRAINERS}


Drainers are like tiny sadbags that are stacked at the back of your neck. Each sandbag on its own may be small and significant, but when they're combined they weigh you down and make you feel tired, lethargic, stressed and chaotic. Your personal environment, finances, relationships and wellbeing are the key areas where you need to simplify and eliminate drainers.


Identifying your drainers

Think about the following aspects of your life – whenever your answer to a question is ‘no’, this indicates a drainer. Work to make all your answers ‘yes’.

1. PERSONAL ENVIRONMENT

  •    Is your living space clean and inspiring?
  •    Is your wardrobe tidy and are all of your clothes clean, pressed and in good repair?
  •    Have you cleaned out your storage space and thrown away anything you haven’t used in two years?
  •    Do you have fresh air and comfort in your home?
  •    Are your bed, pillow and bedding clean, comfortable and conducive to a good night’s sleep?

2. FINANCES

  •    Do you have a budget or know your cost of living?
  •    Do you pay your bills on time or make arrangements with creditors?
  •    Are all of your receipts, invoices and financial records filed and in order?
  •    Do you have an automatic savings plan to save at least 10 per cent of your income?
  •    Do you pay off your credit card debt in full each month?

3. RELATIONSHIPS

  •    Do you tidy any loose ends with your partner, parents, siblings and friends by having open, honest and authentic conversations?
  •    Do you let the people you love know how important they are to you?
  •    Have you let go of any relationships that drag you down or damage you?
  •    Do you make requests rather than complaints?
  •    Do you respond to phone calls, letters and emails promptly, even if your response is brief?

4. WELLBEING

  •    Does your diet include fresh fruit and vegetables, and provide you with enough energy?
  •    Do you avoid excess tea, coffee and alcohol?
  •    Do you exercise for 30 minutes at least three times per week?
  •    Do you get enough sleep at least five nights a week?
  •    Do you have a holiday at least once a year?

5. FUN/CREATIVITY

  •    Do you invest in personal development?
  •    Do you laugh every day?
  •    Do you have a hobby?
  •    Do you plan regular fun activities with your partner, family and friends?
  •    Do you dream big dreams and work on realistic ways to make them happen?
  • Clear the clutter. Delete the drainers. Get clarity.

Clutter

Clutter can make you feel stuck. When it accumulates in your living space it really has an effect on your state of mind, reminding you of all those things you mean to get around to, but somehow never do. They add up in your mind until suddenly there are just too many and the result is that none of them get done. Clutter makes it hard to relax and feel motivated at home, and it can even affect your social life if you’re too embarrassed to have people over.

QUICK CLUTTER FIXES

  •    Declutter paper – books/magazines/filing.
  •    Mantra of one new thing in, one old thing out.
  •    Clean up one room at a time.
  •    If you take it off, hang it up.
  •    If you open it, close it.
  •    If you use it, clean it.

HOW TO STAY CLUTTER-FREE

  •    Review your list of drainers monthly.
  •    Aim to move each answer from ‘no’ to ‘yes’.
  •    Diarise time to maintain your personal environment, finances, relationships and wellbeing.
  •    Create a system to achieve all of the tasks you’ve set yourself to clear the drainers from your life.
  • *Do not underestimate the satisfaction that can be derived from doing small, seemingly inconsequential tasks.

Is technology working for you?

Technology was supposed to make our lives easier, faster and more efficient. How’s it working out for you?


I regularly dedicate some time to thinking about my technology strategy and whether it is working. Is technology causing me stress? Is it robbing me of my time and ability to succeed? Is it affecting my personal relationships and making it harder to renew myself?


Ideally, we should control the flow of information that comes to us, rather than it controlling us. Constant access to technology has been found to deprive us of sleep, health, relationships, space and our sense of achievement. We are addicted to information delivered at the touch of a button whenever we like, increasingly putting us in the passenger seat of life and distracting us from who we truly are and what our purpose is. When we are tuned in all the time, we lose the ability to really focus on one thing and do it well; we are partially present in life. Is that how you want to live? Having your own plan to make technology work for you is the key to using it to enhance, rather than deplete, the life you want to live.


For instance, having phones on the table during dinner does not improve either the conversation or our sense of connection. Seeing pictures of other people on Facebook or Instagram can decrease our confidence when we consider ourselves or our lifestyle in comparison. On the other hand, setting reminders and alerts so you don’t have to remember everything yourself is very useful, as are mindfulness and health apps, downloads that you can listen to on the commute to work and of course smartphones make it much easier to stay in touch with people. Think about the way you use technology and make whatever adjustments are necessary to ensure it’s to your advantage.

GET INTO THE DRIVER’S SEAT

Use your smartphone to help you simplify and declutter your mental space. Do this by programming alerts to take your supplements or medication at the same time each morning, or prompts every couple of hours to drink water, stand up and stretch your legs. Program reminders for things you need to do later in the day, like taking out money to pay your cleaner, buying milk on the way home after work or returning library books in your lunch break. Your phone can keep track of the important tasks and also have to remember everything.

{QUICK TIPS}

  • No phone in the bedroom or at meals.
  • When you're out with friends, have a rule that whoever spends time on their phone pays the bill.
  • Program your phone/computer to work for you.
  • Program your phone not to receive emails from 8 p.m to 7 a.m.
  • Never walk into your home, or your family or friends' homes, while you're on the phone: finish your conversation before you walk in the door.
  • Ensure you have at least 1 hour of family time each day where all the phones are switched off.

How do you declutter your habits?

It’s estimated we spend up to 40 per cent of our day on habits, many of which we don’t even know we have. That’s a lot of time to waste on unnecessary actions that are not doing anything to move you towards the success you crave.


You can declutter your habits and create the life you want by choosing to develop habits that support your values and who you are. It’s important to know that all habits run on a simple loop of:

  •    Cue – this could be a time, person, place or situation that sets your habit/s off.
  •    Routine – what the habit actually involves.
  •    Reward – the pay-off for doing it.

In order to declutter your habits, first you need to identify them and recognise the cues that kick them off. Then, think about which habits you would like to stop and ensure you avoid the cues that get them started. To create new, more constructive habits, think about how you spend the first hour of your day and see if you can build them into this time. What is your strategy to get going on the right foot each morning? How do you cue up the behaviour? What’s your routine? What’s the pay-off?


  • *Habits and attitude determine most of your success.

Make new, better habits

Creating better habits for yourself can introduce lots of positivity to your day-to-day life. As with so many things, writing them down helps make them a reality. Ask yourself the following questions:

  •    Which of your current habits align with the success you want to create in your life? What are the cues, routines and rewards these habits follow?
  •    Which of your current habits undermine the success you want to create in your life? Can you change their cues and rewards to redirect your energy towards the outcomes you want to achieve?
  •    Are there any new habits you’d like to introduce? How can you cue these habits up? What will you do to create a routine? What are ways to reward yourself that are healthy and aligned to your values?

Some examples of new, better habits could be:

  •    Get up and move it – move your body more often for the physical and mental benefits, not to mention enjoyment!
  •    Meditate – take a moment, or 10 minutes if you can, to centre yourself every day.
  •    Rehydrate – avoid the lethargy and inability to concentrate that comes with dehydration. Buy a nice refillable water bottle and take it everywhere with you, and keep a large jug of water on your desk at work. Aim for 6–8 cups a day.
  •    Refuel – put wholesome, nutritious energy into your body to avoid the mood swings that come with sugar highs and lows, and keep your body functioning at its optimal level.
  •    Prepare yourself for the following day before going to bed.

Where are your boundaries?

Feeling overwhelmed? Taken on too much? Having trouble saying ‘no’? The key to creating a more balanced life is to set boundaries that support your visions, your goals and the way you function at your best. Boundaries provide a valuable structure for communicating with those around you, at work and at play, so that everyone achieves their desired outcome without feeling frustrated or resentful. But first, you need to know where your boundaries are.


So, when should you say ‘no’? Cheryl Richardson, author of The Art of Extreme Self-Care, suggests you create your own ‘absolute’ list to set boundaries for your optimal life.


What is an absolute ‘yes’ in your life?


What is an absolute ‘no’ in your life?


Learning to say ‘no’ is liberating and brings us back to being true to ourselves. Try practising saying ‘no’ in the mirror a few times until you sound clear, calm and confident.

POLITE WAYS TO SAY ‘NO’

Many people, especially women, struggle to say ‘no’ for fear of sounding rude. But it is a vital skill that stops you committing to things that drain you and don’t add anything positive to your life. Here are some suggestions for polite ways to say ‘no’:

  •    I’m swamped right now, but please ask me again another time. (If you’d like to do it at a later date.)
  •    I can’t do it, but I can recommend someone else.
  •    I’d love to help, but I’d be letting other people down and I just can’t do that.
  •    I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I promised myself I would say ‘no’ to things when I’m feeling overloaded.

EXAMPLE: BOUNDARIES AT WORK

Martin found that if he completed his most important tasks in the morning, he could make himself more available to his colleagues in the afternoon. To achieve this, he always started with the hardest task first. He also set the boundary that when his office door was closed, his colleagues weren’t allowed to enter unless their request was urgent, and if it was open, they had to knock before entering.

EXAMPLE: BOUNDARIES AT HOME

Darcy recognised that his partner and family were the most important people in his life. He decided that between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. each evening, he would be engaged with them, so he didn’t check his phone or emails during this time. He also consciously entered the house each evening with a smile and positive energy, so he would inspire, rather than drain them. Darcy changed his family dynamic with these commitments.

EXAMPLE: BOUNDARIES FOR YOURSELF

By making one basic health commitment to yourself, such as giving up or limiting alcohol or coffee, you can bring about a huge positive change. Sally lost 4 kg in six months simply by giving up soft drinks.


  • *We are only busy with those things we say ‘yes’ to.
  • *Set boundaries that support your visions and goals, and the way you function at your best.

Characteristics of successful people

What sets successful people apart? High achievers have been found to possess certain characteristics that are integral to success. Whatever your goals in life, if you develop the characteristics of an ambitious person, you’ll make progress towards your outcomes and have more chance of success.


Consider the experience of elite athletes. They obviously have an innate skill in their chosen sport, but they weren’t born performing at an Olympic standard. They worked hard to develop their skills, because they possessed certain characteristics – drive, persistence, passion, determination – that helped them get up at 4 a.m. each day to train for 6 hours a day, 6 days a week.

WHAT’S YOUR OPPORTUNITY?

Do you have the characteristics of success? Review the following list and see where your approach might need a little fine-tuning to ensure you are doing what you need to create the life you most want to live.


When going through this process with me, Olympic runner Benita Johnson realised that although running was her passion, it had taken over her life. She ran too much and had lost her love for it. She had no vision for her life outside of sport, so I helped her build a new routine that supported a full, inspiring, balanced lifestyle. ‘I never believed I could achieve so much while being an elite athlete!’ she told me. ‘I feel confident in all areas of my life now and look forward to an exciting future – as an athlete and beyond.’


  • *Sometimes the answer to success is identifying the simple characteristic that is needed.

WINNERS’ LIST:
11 CHARACTERISTICS OF SUCCESS

 

1 Having a vision that’s complete, inspiring, balanced and exciting.

2 Having a well-thought-out plan that backs up their vision and also takes their wellbeing into account.

3 Working hard – high-level success starts with the recognition that hard work pays off.

4 Having knowledge or training, and being committed to adapting and growing continually to improve their skills.

5 Eagerness to learn – winners study, ask questions, read and research, then apply what they learn.

6 Persistence – many people give up after their first rejection, but winners look for other opportunities to reach their outcome.

7 Taking responsibility – they know that when they blame others for their actions, they disempower themselves.

8 Networking – they value people and relationships, and their contact lists are full of people who put a high value on their friendship.

9 Making decisions where others procrastinate.

10  Self-reliance – taking the initiative and accepting the responsibilities of success.

11  Living in the present – successful people don’t waste time; they use it and complete their tasks mindfully.

SUMMARY

We need to simplify and declutter to regain control of our lives. It is not that hard, but it takes a plan and some action without procrastination.


Drainers occur daily when we let our guard down – the mess comes in, the new purchases arrive, the information never seems to stop. Having your own plan of how to stay decluttered and operate simply and effectively is critical for long-term success.

{ Simplify for success }

1 Get clarity on what drains you physically, mentally and emotionally.

2 Take control of technology in your life.

3 Structure and program technology to work for you and serve you.

4 Know your habits. Work with them, change them and challenge them.

5 Set clear and simple boundaries.

6 Know when and how to say ‘no’, so you have time to do the things that matter the most.

7 Be aware of your success characteristics and focus on those that need improving.

{ Words to ponder }

1 Get excited by the fact that less is best.

2 Clutter is clog.

3 Energy is created by simplifying.

4 Love a simple life.

5 Change my habits so they work for me.

6 Get more organised.

7 Boundaries offer support.

8 This is my life and I am the driver.

9 Don’t think about it; just do it.

10  Learn to say ‘no’.

11  Is technology working for me or against me?

12  Tune out sometimes to be fully present in life.

13  Hard work pays off.

14  Be decisive and persistent.

TIPS AND TRICKS

  •    Declutter at least one thing each day. For instance, you might start with a wardrobe, then a bookshelf, then an office drawer, and so on.
  •    Donate old work clothing to charities such as Dress For Success, which supplies professional work clothes to the unemployed.
  •    Tidy up your work desk and keep it as clear as possible.
  •    Set up your technology so it works for you, not the other way around.
  •    Program new, good habit reminders into your phone.
  •    Create an automatic debit system to fast-track a savings plan.
  •    Use tools to limit social media use. There are programs and apps that can block the internet at certain times of the day to give you a break.
  •    Practise saying ‘no’ calmly and confidently.
  •    If you need to say ‘no’ to someone, write down a polite ‘no’ statement and practise it out loud so you’re clear about what to say, rather than hoping the right thing will come out during the conversation.
  •    Look at your drainers list and identify the ‘no’ conversations you need to have, even with yourself (such as, ‘No thanks, I can’t afford it.’).
  •    Start each day with a habit for success.
  •    Put out cues the night before for how you want to start your day – a healthy breakfast, the dog lead, a candle for morning meditation.
  •    Be in charge of your boundaries.
  •    Identify and eliminate the drainers in your life, one by one.
  •    Design boundaries at home to nurture and protect home life, and carve out quality time without distractions.
  •    Design boundaries at work to limit unproductive time, especially meetings and petty politicking.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.





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