productivity quotes

How to Clear Up Your Life: Is Less the New More?

Through the years, I’ve learned much about myself by journaling. There’s something about writing down our thoughts that helps make sense of the jumble of our minds. I recently wrote about how to keep learning in order to conquer fear, but I think there’s another angle to the story that I’d like to explore. What if, instead of constantly pushing to keep up-to-date with everything, we focused on doing less and less?

The Inevitable Power of Thoughts

One of my best friends is ridiculously optimistic. The word “positivity” should be tattooed on her forehead. Me, not so much — until I read Napoleon Hill’s Think Rich. Instead of having you read the entire book, I’ll summarize it for you in three words: thoughts are things.

The follow quote illustrates this beautifully:

When we treat man as he is, we make him worse than he is;
when we treat him as if he already were what he potentially could be,
we make him what he should be.
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

When I came across this quote, everything started to make sense. We’re not always ready for change, but the change itself is ready for us.

I dream of spending entire days doing what I love the most: writing. I dream of not having to touch email, Photoshop, or a pesky to-do list app. I dream of cradling two things: my laptop and my coffee mug. (I even have a pair of oversized, cozy writing pants reserved for such a wondrous occasion, but let’s keep that to ourselves.)

Oh, but then … do you know what happens when I actually spend a day like this — just writing?

I worry.
I check my phone and email.
I read the news.
I think about any tasks I might have forgotten.

Thoughts scroll through my mind incessantly: “Am I doing enough? Am I missing out on something?”

The Power of No

A few nights ago, there was an event in my hometown that I was invited to. You’d think a gathering of techies would be right up my alley, especially because I used to put this kind of event together myself, but I was completely torn about attending or not.

It wasn’t an easy decision, but I reflected, and decided to stay home. I called my husband and told him I decided to pass. When he asked why, this is what I told him:

“If I go, it would be because I’m afraid of missing out, not because my heart is telling me to be there.”

The same logic applies to my work.

I decided over six months ago that I want to focus on content, not technology. I’ve known it for months, but I haven’t fully put it into practice. Now that it’s time to simplify, I’ve used this same strategy to say no to lots of things lately.

  • I’m not taking on any more technology projects (except for family). My time needs to be free for writing — period.
  • Driving to and fro for meetings is no fun for anyone. If it can be said over the phone, why harm the environment driving everywhere? No more driving around unless it’s necessary.
  • If I want to spend all day writing, each evening is socially valuable. Many of those nights are my family’s, so who I share the rest with becomes crucial.

Success in life is proportional to how
much you’re willing to have awkward conversations.
— Sandy Barak

Saying no to events and requests will take awkward conversations, I promise you. It may feel weird, but the outcome will be well worth it.

Decisions: Compounding Interest

It’s no secret that I hate finance, so the concept of compounding interest sounds scarier than I really want it to. All you need to know is this:

Your decisions today will affect your decisions tomorrow.

Let me share some examples from my own life:

  • When I say no to some projects today, my life in three months will be much more serene and focused.
  • If I decide to focus my writing goal on 1,000 words per day, I will be a much better write in one year.
  • If I put aside time to truly connect with five friends, they will connect me with other amazing people (who are relevant to me) in good time.
  • If I prioritize time with my family each week, I’ll have a beautiful home life for years to come.
  • If I work out four mornings a week, it’ll only get easier and my body will only feel healthier over time.

These examples may sound simple to you, but they’re truly complex. It takes concentrated effort to reflect on:

  1. what you want in your life
  2. what you want to cut out
  3. what pain you will feel in the future if you don’t take action today.

What can you cut out of your life? If you don’t start today, how will you suffer in the future?

Bio: When Marcella Chamorro decided to quit her job to live every day as if it’s a vacation, she was invited to give a TEDx Talk on creating a lifestyle that is both meaningful and exciting (watch the video here). Now (as an author & entrepreneur based in Nicaragua), Marcella guides those who want to live their dreams at The Perpetual Vacation.

  • http://www.acalltoaction.net/ Trevor Wilson

    There is a reason that minimalism is a growing trend. As a society we’ve become maxed out. Too much stuff and too many things going on. Most of us are being pulled in too many directions — it’s only a matter of itme until we’re torn apart.
     
    Simplifying simply means to prioritize. It works equally well with belongings as it does with commitments.
     
    When I got rid of most of my stuff and moved into a little barnhouse out in the country, I made the decision to simplify. And it’s amazing, once the clutter was gone so was my cluttered mind. Simplicity leads to clarity.
     
    So I agree, the question should be not “how can I do more,” but “how can I do less?”
     
    Cheers!

    • http://www.marcellachamorro.com/ Marcella Chamorro

      Thanks, Trevor! I definitely agree with you. Open space, white space, more room… in our homes but also in our calendars. It just feels more like freedom, doesn’t it?

  • HVSJ12

    Hi,
    I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could e-mail me?
    Heather

    • http://www.marcellachamorro.com/ Marcella Chamorro

      Was this question directed to PicktheBrain editors or to me? I’m sure we can help if you let us know. Cheers!

  • Zurainikasim

    A great article indeed! I can totally relate to this. Believe me, i have tried excatly that – the notebook and a cup of coffee. Then i started reading something else for ideas - only to realize that i could’t possible write something as good as what i have just read! Instead of writing something meaningful and profound; i ended up ranting in my journal about it.

    It’s frustrating sometimes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lien.onme Ultrac Lien

    Thanks for your openness, Marcella!
    Reading this, and recognizing my own thoughts and lifestyle in your words, uplifts my heart & soul! ;-)
    Keep journaling, and loads of courage, fun and satisfaction on your ‘mission’! x

    • http://www.marcellachamorro.com/ Marcella Chamorro

      Thank you! Being open isn’t easy, but it’s the most fulfilling. I wish you the same for your life. Cheers!

  • http://www.financialfreedomnewsletter.net/6-steps-to-bouncing-back-from-a-setback/ Rynessa Cutting

    I love the way you think. My mother always pounds these types of philosophies into my head. I have found that the more i put things in my mind, the more they manifest themselves in my life.

  • http://goalsetting-workshop.com/blog/ Jorge Blanco

    That was a great reminder Marcella. It made me think about how many more things I don’t need in my life. Having lesser things to attend to does allow you to focus on what’s important and gives you the results that you want in your life.