At the end of 2014 a mentor or mine, Kamal Sarma, challenged me to choose a word for the year.
Unlike a list of resolutions, this one word is an acting philosophy, a guide and an invitation for what your days may hold.
Kamal explained the words that he’s picked and their subsequent impact. There was the year of Freedom, the year of Fun. I wasn’t surprised to hear that Authenticity was the hardest one. We’re all so good at putting on fronts.
I was attracted to the simplicity of this idea. Instead of setting goals, this asks you to stay focused on just one thing and examine how it can permeate life. There’s an appealing discipline that hurts our fragmented minds.
So coming into 2016, I spent a few weeks thinking about my word. It forced me to consider the kind of year that I want and how I want my character to grow. I started off with last year’s word: FUN. I then went to TRUST. Explored HONESTY. Flirted with ACCELERATION. And then stopped at LESS.
LESS feels oh so right, and this is why.
Lately, I’ve abandoned the daily pressure for more. We’re constantly told that we need to be more and buy more and I’ve had enough. It feels like a quiet, satisfying rebellion.
From a practical perspective, life was feeling a little too full. Being a perfectionist plus a productivity queen, my daily to do lists (even the weekend ones) were filling my mind with a consistent need to do. I would push myself to always complete my to do list. There was no time to be, to think or evaluate my life – or even the quality and impact of all of that output. It was simply exhausting and potentially useless in the big scheme of things.
There’s an old Confucius saying that life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. This is clearly not a new challenge but it feels new with exponentially increasing pressure and expectation we have of each other. So with all of this in mind, this is my experiment.
I want to do less – but achieve more. I want to buy less. Want less. Need less. Talk less. Store less.
Our lives are often frittered away by the detail. Like a good strategy or idea, I want to pare my life back to something simple, hacking away at the things that aren’t good for me, aren’t necessary or don’t set me up for a lifestyle of joy. And I must say, it’s had quite an impact.
I don’t have any more weekend to do lists. I’ve de-cluttered every cupboard in the house and have completely culled my wardrobe. I haven’t bought new clothing or shoes, beyond what’s absolutely necessary. I’ve cleaned out my inbox. Limited my social media use. I’ve unsubscribed from anything that tries to sell me stuff. I’ve stopped all phone notifications. I’m more brutal about who I spend time with. Instead of thinking about what more I could have, I focus on what more I can cull.
Everything is under review. Everything.
And although it’s only been two months, my mind feels clearer. I feel a renewed sense of freedom. I have time for things I really love. And damn it feels good.