Hello Me, I’ve missed you.

Living a simple life is much more complicated than I originally anticipated, so here is to trying again.

I’ve realised that I can’t commit to waking up at 5am, 6am or even 7am every day. I can’t commit to exercising 3 or 4 times a week. I can’t commit to tracking my spending and keeping to a budget. And while I would like to, I also can’t commit to a long list of other things either – like eating healthy/vegetarian/keto meals, reading every day, living a minimalistic lifestyle, etc.

So I’m going to be real with myself – What can I (realistically) commit to?

I can and WILL commit to making more of an effort and try to do one thing a day that will improve my life in the long term in a holistic sense.

One thing I’ve noticed recently is that somewhere between by early 20’s and my early 30’s, my focus changed. In my 20’s I was focused on being the best me that I could be and somehow through the last decade that has morphed from something holistic to a checklist of habits that I wanted to tick off. What happened to being a better person? When did that translate to getting up early in the morning, drinking lemon water, doing yoga, journaling, being a minimalist, following a plant-based diet, meditating, buying bulk foods and doing HIIT workouts?

When did I change my focus from who I am as a person to what habits I have as a person?

I know that when I got out of my last looonng term relationship, I needed to focus on discovering who I was as a person and building my independence. This naturally meant a great deal of time, energy and effort focused inwardly trying to find out what it was that I wanted, who I was as an individual and exercising the freedom and power to do whatever it was that I wanted to do, without consideration for what someone else wanted.

At that time, that was what I needed. However, I feel somewhere down that path I began to focus a little too much on what I wanted for a little too long, and now I am beginning to see that my time of self discovery has turned into selfishness and self-centred-ness. At some point I stopped caring what other people thought, even those close to me. I felt it was my right to do as I pleased, when I pleased, in the way that I saw fit.

I’ve had a few insightful moments of self-reflection lately and I am not happy with what I see. I have been more than a little too proud in claiming the title of independent, intelligent, strong and free. Somehow I thought to be that, I had to let go of caring, consideration, empathy, understanding and forgiveness. Now I’m seeing that in order to be independent, intelligent, strong and free, I need to be caring, considerate, empathetic, understanding and forgiving.

I took a step back and now I see a bigger picture. Sometimes, you need to take a step back in order to see yourself.

 

A Year of Simple – Part 2

Sorry, another long post – but I need to get it out of my head and off of my chest.
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When you take the time to slow down and stop for a moment, you create the space you need to actually see yourself and to clearly assess your life and priorities.

For the past month, I’ve had no choice but to stop and have some down time and I am so grateful that I got the opportunity to do that. At first, I sat around not really knowing what to do, but as time went by my focus turned inwardly and I started to see myself for the first time in many, many years. Along with that my mind became more open – open to new ideas and possibilities – things I had previously not paid attention to or had dismissed as not being relevant to me.

During this time I’ve given myself the opportunity and the courtesy to be still and to really identify and understand what it is that I want and most importantly, who it is that I want to be.

What has changed?

For those familiar with the Myer Briggs personality types, I am an ENTP (click here for more info). I know some people may be skeptical about stuff like this, but the only reason I believe in it is because the personality description is so scarily accurate.

One of the most discernible traits of an ENTP is the ability to have ideas, to have a lot of them and then to explore every single one of them. For the past half a decade, that is exactly how I operated my life. The criteria against which I evaluated whether something or someone was part of my life was:

  1. Is it new?
  2. Is it interesting?
  3. Do I like it?

If the answer was ‘yes’ then it made it into my life – which basically meant a lot of crap (people and things) ended up in my life.

My latest revelation is that if I want to stop wasting my energy, time, resources and money, then I need to have a much more detailed criteria that needs to be met.

  1. Does it/this person add to my happiness, now and into the future?
  2. Does this resonate with the person I am or the person I want to become?
  3. Does this add value to my life?
  4. Is this in anyway detrimental to my life – mentally, emotionally, financially, health wise?
  5. Does this align with my goals and my values?

In effect, I am minimalising my whole life. I am casting a critical eye over everything in it and decluttering everything that doesn’t add value or bring me joy.

I understand now that in order to find happiness, I need to critique and curate what I let into my life. It can’t continue to be a free-for-all where anything remotely interesting gets added simply to alleviate boredom or to provide momentary entertainment because that’s the life equivalent of impulse shopping. And I do recognise that it will be hard to change those habits. I know there will be times where it’ll be much easier to give into what’s easy and “fun” and in those moments I know I’ll have some hard choices to make.

Another piece of inspiration I found a little over a year ago was a TED talk by Ruth Chang on how to make hard choices and it’s my second favourite TED talk. The last bit especially really struck a cord with me and it goes something like this:

“It’s here in the space of hard choices that we get to exercise our normative power – the power to create reasons for yourself, to make yourself the kind of person you want to be. ….When we choose between options that are on a par… we can put our very selves behind an option. ‘Here is where I stand, here’s who I am’. It is not dictated by reasons given to us, rather it is supported by reasons created by us… you might say we become the authors of our own lives.”

I have decided to take an active decision making role in my life from now onwards, instead of sitting back and just going with the flow. I will make the hard choices when necessary and I will be the author of my life. I know who I want to be and I am putting myself 100% behind that choice.

A Year of Simple – Part 1

This is the (LONG) story of how I got to this point.

There are moments in your life when you have a new realisation. Sometimes its a lightbulb suddenly switching on in your brain, other times it slowly creeps up on you. For me in this instance, its the latter.

I’ve been trying for a while to “get my life together”. In truth, I guess I’ve been trying since I graduated high school, but I didn’t really know then that that was what I was doing.

I’ve always felt the urge to improve myself in one way or another, but I never really had an end goal in mind and I didn’t really have a role model to emulate. So for the last decade or so I’ve just been blindly trying out new things and sometimes these things kind of took me off track a little (or a lot) in terms of the self-development goals I had…but I guess that’s just life.

In 2012 I got out of a long term relationship, one that I had been in since university. From that point until now, I’ve changed a lot as a person. I’ve tried a lot of things, discovered a lot of things and learned a lot of things which has been great. BUT as part of that change process and period of discovery, it has also felt like its just been one thing after another, non-stop for 6 years straight and now I am exhausted.

In those 6 years I did/discovered/tried/learned the following:

  • Ended a 7 year relationship
  • Managed to navigate a way to maintain a strong friendship with my 7yr ex
  • Move out of home for the first time
  • Lived in a share house for the first time
  • Fell for an older man
  • Got my heart broken by said older man
  • Dated casually for the first time
  • Went out by myself and made new friends for the first time since university
  • Travelled overseas by myself to India, Nepal, Japan, Sri Lanka, Maldives
  • Had a brief overseas travel romance for the first time
  • Got a new job during that time
  • Travelled for work for the first time (domestic and internationally)
  • Started my own freelance business for the first time
  • Stopped my own freelance business when I realised how much I hated admin
  • Invested time to try new hobbies for the first time
  • Hooked up with random people
  • Learned a lot about dating, people, and open relationships
  • Dated someone who had been to jail for the first time
  • Lived on my own for the first time
  • Rented an apartment on my own
  • Moved house on my own
  • Assembled a crapload of Ikea furniture on my own
  • Cooked for myself
  • Did all chores for myself
  • Paid all the bills by myself
  • Moved in and lived with a boyfriend for the first time
  • Dated someone with children for the first time
  • Got my own pet that was solely my responsibility for the first time

During all of that I also had stints of trying to:

  • Eat healthier
  • Exercise more
  • Get fitter, lose weight
  • Cook more
  • Manage my finances
  • Save more money
  • Learn new skills
  • Start new hobbies
  • Make new friends
  • Sleep better
  • Have a cleaner home
  • Be more organised
  • Be more fashionable
  • Become a better person, nicer, more patient
  • Contribute more to the community, get involved, volunteer

Between all of that, it never felt like I had a moment to really focus on myself – not in a proper, full focus, dedicated kind of way. It was always a haphazard attempt here and there, focused on one area or another, in between everything else that was going on in my life.

I knew all the individual areas I wanted to improve on. It was like a checklist in my head, but it was never the big picture – never the whole picture. It was like I had all the pieces of the puzzle, but never in my hands at the same time and never put together.

To be honest, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I didn’t have a proper direction to head in or a road to follow. Even after I discovered minimalism, I’ve just realised that all I’ve been focused on is decluttering my stuff and making my apartment look more ‘minimalistic’. I’ve completely missed the point and the actual reason behind minimalism which is making space for the things you love and by things I mean the people and experiences.

And I’ve also realised now that even minimalism (done right) isn’t the whole picture, it’s only one facet of who I want to be. And that’s how I came to my slow epiphany over the last week. Even as I type this, the idea is still a little fuzzy around the edges and not 100% clear – but the shape is there and getting clearer by the minute.

I need to simplify my life, not just one aspect, not just my possessions, but my whole life. I want a simple life and I only want to focus on the things that will enrich my life. No more dating random people for the hell of it, no more hooking up with people for the hell of it, no more moving apartments for the hell of it, no more getting bored with a job and hating it, no more half-arsed attempts at eating healthier, getting fitter and saving money.

For the last 6 years, every time I got a little bored, I’d instigate a change e.g. meet someone new, try something new, travel to a new country, move to a new apartment, etc. While I recognise some of those changes were necessary, I know for sure that some of them were just for novelty value – just to see what it would be like because I was basically using them as a substitute to actually changing myself. Instead of changing my mentality and perspective, I was changing my situation.

And I guess it’s a bit of a catch 22 – because my situation was always in flux, I never felt like I had the time or energy to really focus on myself. Now with 20/20 hindsight I can see that I just didn’t know how to change myself and if I’m honest, probably didn’t actually want to put the work and effort in to actually do it – which is why I spent so much time making my life so complicated and used that as a distraction.

Having figured out the above, I am now making the commitment to myself to solidly dedicate the next 12 months to simplifying my life. No more unnecessary changes. No more distractions. Everything I choose to do I will do with intention and purpose and I will dedicate 100% to. No more half-arsing life.