Create a Meaningful Life
What is a simple life? Chances are you don’t really understand the concept of simplicity because unnecessary complexities intrude upon your consciousness many ways. Complexity is everywhere — from the securities markets to the fine print in your computer manual. Most people are anchored to the ball-and-chain concept of “more, more, more,” more money, more possessions, more time. But too often, the quest for more leaves you feeling less satisfied with your life. In contrast, the road to simplicity is a process of “non-doing.” It’s the flipside of demand. The search for simplicity is a journey that begins with your external possessions and ends with your innermost self.
The First Level of the Pyramid: Your Possessions
Most people own about 10,000 items. Prune your personal baggage by organizing your home, office and car. Clutter and large stacks of paper reflect mental disorder; random detritus attacks your well-being. To inject your work and wardrobe with renewed life, tidy up and clear away extraneous items.
Follow these tips:
• Use the “four-quadrant” tool — Find an empty table, or surface (even the floor). Divide it into four sections: 1) throw away, 2) pass on, 3) important and 4) act now. Sort into those sections until there are no papers left on your desk.
• Use visual clues — Get a box or suspension files, calendar reminders and aides to create a system for handling office chores and paper work.
• Streamline your possessions — Reduce your emotional baggage at home by trimming the overload of books, mementos and clothes that anchor you to the past and impair your development. Keep a memento from each special person and give away the rest.
• Clean up in small stages — Divide tasks into manageable portions.
• Tackle a small space — Delve into a shelf or drawer that you can clear in a few hours. Don’t stop until the space sparkles.
• Uncover your horizontal surfaces — Vigilantly clear clutter magnets such as the dining table, kitchen countertops and the top of the refrigerator.
• Keep doorways clutter-free — A clear entrance will make your home inviting. Don’t hang junk on doorknobs.
• Discard old information — Prune when you open a file. Put an expiration date on files.
Examine your hobbies and collections with a critical eye. Differentiate between true collections and accumulated junk. Save meaningful collections, but discard objects that you have randomly hoarded. Shedding meaningless possessions will save money, time and energy. Once you create order, maintain it by following “six golden rules:”
1. Put away every item you have taken out.
2. Close everything you have opened.
3. Pick up items that have fallen.
4. If you take it down, hang it back up.
5. Immediately write down your future purchase plans.
6. If something breaks, fix it within a week.
A path of simplification is built on small steps. Keep moving! Stagnation often leads to clutter, dissatisfaction and disorder. Cutting clutter can help you cut calories, save money and increase your concentration. Now, celebrate each task and project you complete.
Second Level of the Pyramid: Your Finances
Cultivate a new attitude about money and wealth. Your happiness does not depend on wealth; but rather true wealth depends on your ability to be happy. Remember the old adage: A wealthy person is one who is satisfied with his or her lot in life. Don’t wait to be happy, enjoy all that you have in the present moment. The simplified approach to wealth is a paradox. You attract more money when you relinquish it. A tight grip on money and possessions blocks the flow of wealth into your life. Instead, spend less and reduce your debt. Take these steps:
• Get out of debt — Debt creates stress and anxiety, and impairs self-esteem. Pay cash. Avoid high-interest consumer loans. Study your bills for unnecessary charges and fees. Work out a debt restructuring plan with your bank officer, and then trim your lifestyle. Commit to a set amount of savings each month and “pay yourself” first.
• Follow high ethical standards — Ethical conduct enhances the flow of money into your life. For example, charitable donations, good deeds and generosity boost selfesteem. Those with a better self image accomplish more. Likewise, a business career marked by fair dealings, praise for others and sound ethics will lead to success.
• Stay on top of the job market — Even if you like your job, review the market annually and apply for a new position every three years. Study job listings and build a network. This quantifies your market value and helps you negotiate a higher salary.
• Establish career goals — Build long-term security by having clear goals. Devote an hour each day to self-examination and personal development. Honestly evaluate your skills, professional progress and outlook. Brainstorm additional ways to earn money. Don’t rule out a second job, more training, a new career or self-employment. Keep the faith — you can shape reality with your thoughts.
Level Three: Time Management
The secret to successful time management is to establish priorities and tackle one task at a time with full concentration. Operate with realistic deadlines and honestly evaluate your ability to meet them. Launch your day with Priority One activities. Block out disturbances, interruptions or obstacles so you can focus. Do not perform any of your favourite chores (gardening, Internet surfing, shopping) until you complete the first stage of that Priority One task; then reward yourself. Identify your high productivity periods and root out “inner time thefts” by writing down your work schedule for a week. Avoid procrastination with self-awareness, planning and well-timed relaxation. Save time by delegating and by avoiding information overload. Learn to turn down extra assignments, demands and commitments. To diminish misunderstandings, disappointments and heartaches, assert your right to say “no.”
Forget perfection. The quest for a perfect life is a dangerous journey. An overly meticulous approach contributes to illness and economic setbacks. Avoid the perfection trap by viewing mistakes as opportunities for growth, insight and even amusement.
To be more productive, safeguard your health in these key areas:
• The power of exercise — At least 30 minutes of daily exercise will help keep you well. When possible, walk up and down stairs, an inexpensive, simple exercise. Physical activity prompts the body to release “beta-endorphins,” a chemical that drives away depression and diminishes pain.
• Sleep — Nightly rest, “good, deep sleep,” enhances happiness and improves health. Researchers link sleep deprivation to a variety of illnesses, allergies and ailments. Sleep at least seven hours each night.
• Eat well — A healthy, balanced diet feeds your body and mind. Increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables; cut down on meat, refined sugars and junk. Establish a schedule for eating and avoid heavy evening meals. Fill up on water, not caffeine.
• Diminish stress — Monitor your body for signs of stress. Backaches, stomach ailments and heart problems point to an overloaded calendar. Take time out; go for a walk or a mini-vacation. Share your problems. Distance yourself from personal and professional difficulties. Slow down, breathe deeply and focus on the present. Rest.
Step Five: Relationships
Jump start your career by networking to eliminate isolation and increase your business revenue. Go into parties, dinners and social gatherings with a set of objectives. Actively participate in party chatter, but don’t dominate the discussion or interrogate others. Listen with genuine, polite interest. Be a good guest. Promptly respond to invitations, arrive on time and bring a small gift. Circulate at parties. Thank your host and leave when most guests begin to depart. Follow up with a small note of thanks or a phone call.
Carefully nurture family relationships, particularly with your parents. Listen to them and let them know that their views matter. Respect their experiences and stories. Their recollections will be valuable to you and your children. Release anger, ill will and envy, which you should view only as a signal that you have fallen short of your abilities. Enrich your life with creative development in music, art, crafts or writing. And don’t try to fix other people. Stare at your reflection when the shortcomings of others aggravate you.
As you age, prepare your will and your funeral. Write a plan or a few burial wishes. Prepare a living will that expresses your views about emergency medical treatment or other long-term care. Simplify bequests by giving gifts to loved ones and friends while you are still alive.
Step Six: Simply You
Every life has a unique path. Unfortunately, each day you face roadblocks that force you into costly detours, U-turns and breakdowns. Simplification serves as a roadside service to get you back on track. Do a few things for yourself:
• Take inventory and dare to dream — Catalogue your talents and shortcomings to create a map leading to your true mission in life. List your strengths to reconnect with your inner dreams. List the goals you need to achieve to succeed personally and professionally. State your goals in active, not passive language.
• Create your ideal life — Take a dose of self-awareness. Keep a “simplification diary.” Let your uncensored thoughts flow on private pages. Don’t worry about style, just have an open, honest conversation with yourself. Early mornings are the most helpful time to write. Be patient; insightful breakthroughs may not arrive until you write for months.
• Be the director, screenwriter and star — Reject the role of “bit player” in your life. Edit out roles (committee functions, unsuitable career choices, extra possessions) that complicate your life. But include and consider your partner as you change your script.
Above all, have faith in your new wings and abilities. You can fly.
Thanks for taking time out and reading!!!!
Always remember, Life is Good!!!!!
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