“Be the designer of your world and not merely the consumer of it.”― James Clear, Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
What are we looking for overall? What do we want to do with our limited time we have on this planet? Well that’s for you to decide. All of us want an intentional life. We want to live the life that we design. We desire control of the events that make up our days, weeks and years. In the book, Better, Stronger, Faster, Charles Duhigg explains- A study was done where participants were invited to play a game, unbeknownst to them it was rigged. They enjoyed the game at first yet after they realized they had no control over the outcome to the game, their brain stopped lighting up in the same places and they reported that it was boring and they did not enjoy it. Sounds obvious right? Yet we allow ourselves to sleepwalk through our days so often. So let’s get that control back. First, figure out what you want, who you are. Find your personal true north. Then simplify your life to reflect those values.
The Four Elements of Simplicity
I’d like to propose these four elements of simplicity:
Environment is the invisible hand that shapes human behavior.-James Clear
Take a quick look around your space. What does it say about you? Are you tidy or messy? Do you like to read or play video games? The major question is- what is your environment lending you in the assistance of reaching your value-based goals? If you are someone striving to pay your bills on time, do you have a place for bills that easy to access and beautiful to look at? If you want to do yoga and meditate every morning, does your environment help facilitate this?
In the book, “Atomic Habits” James Clear mentions an experiment done in a hospital cafeteria. The administration wanted to facilitate more water drinking so they experimented with the placement of water. They added water to the check out and a basket right in front of each food and beverage station. Water sales went up 25.8 percent. We all see this in action with the valuable end-cap real estate at a grocery store, or anything sold at eye level. But this is also extremely powerful in our homes. What you see in your space has a huge impact on who you are.
What we eat and how we exercise our bodies also contribute dramatically to our health and therefore well being and contentment. This is also a huge opportunity to check in with our values. One of my values is service to others on a family, local and global level and that also includes animals. So where I buy my food has an impact on my values. What types of food and how simple it is to prepare are also major areas to focus on. I recently read that we are supposed to have 9 cups of vegetables each day. This is an example of a simple starting point for health and well being. Think of the people in your life, especially if you have children. How do you nourish them? Through (hopefully) healthy foods, getting enough sleep, exercise? Not donuts and too many coffees and letting them stay up till 2 working on a project? But do you love yourself enough to give you the same nourishment?
There is so much room here for our values, truly. Where we spend our money represents our values. Family, love, charity, stability, sustainability comfort. All of these are examples of values I easily connect to my values daily. Simplify your finance by knowing your “why” and applying this to your spending and you will be inching your way towards a value-driven life. Read more on simple finances here.
Time is a finite resource and we give it away daily to what we value most: Our relationships to the world, and ourselves. Our relationships are the manifestation of love in our lives. Connection to our community, our families and our love for ourselves are the building blocks of what makes us human. Most of us would not prefer a solitude existence on a mountain and with good reason. We are social primates built for connection. And this connection is made through what and who we make time for. A good friend once said you can see everything about a person’s values through his or her calendar. Their calendar is their values. Are they dedicating time to make food for their families, take a walk around the block? Get off the phone to ask someone they love about their day? Schedule a weekly date night?
And of course no one can love, cherish and value anyone else until they love and therefore nourish themselves.
Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.-Brené Brown
Love is infinite but time is not. Choose yourself daily. Love yourself daily. Take time to breathe and relax into whatever it is you need. Write, create, move, love you. The how of that is making a date with yourself-on your calendar- every damn day.