You will never have enough time to do everything you want to do or even everything you need to do. Getting busier, trying to do even more, will never work. To live a simple beautiful life, you must choose the two or three roles that are most important to you at this time and let go of the rest.
A Simpler Life
Monday morning and Sandy woke up early, already thinking about the busy week ahead. She had postponed packing lunches last night to finish up some last-minute details for a meeting this morning with an important client. So now she needed to pack lunches as well as make breakfast, help her kids get ready for school, plus get herself ready. She’d drop them at school on her way to work. Then her husband was leaving for a three-day business trip and had asked her to take his shirts to the cleaners and return library materials.
She had a presentation scheduled tomorrow for her company’s C-level executives and she still needed to do the final clean-up on her slide deck. Also, she was supposed to meet her mother and sister for lunch later this week. Not to mention that she had committed to working out at the gym every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Then there was her daughter’s softball game and her son’s soccer practice to get to. As the week loomed ahead of her, Sandy felt a gnawing in her gut as she realized this was becoming her normality. She felt a desperate need for a simpler life.
Simple, Not Simplistic
We may not be as overwhelmed as Sandy, but many of us could benefit from crafting a simpler life. To start that process, take time to understand what a simple beautiful life means for you.
To begin with, it’s not what your friends think and it’s certainly not the life you see in TV advertisements. Your idea of a simple beautiful life is unique to you. So step back and take a look at all aspects of your life, what’s working and what isn’t working. How could you live more simply and how would that improve your life overall?
If you feel you aren’t living a simple beautiful life, ask yourself what’s missing. Why aren’t you making the changes necessary to move you toward living in simplicity?
As you consider these questions, practice mental flexibility. If you are rigid and inflexible in your thinking, it gives you little room for change or improvement [Lawes] If you believe that “your qualities are carved in stone”, that’s a fixed mindset. [Dweck] You believe that you are unable to change and that belief limits what you will attempt, keeps you inflexible and stuck. Instead, we want to have a growth mindset = “the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts” [Dweck].
Simple, Not Convenient
“Convenience, in other words, makes things easy, but without regard to whether easiness is truly what’s most valuable in any given context.” [Burkeman]
The “seductive lure of convenience” [Burkeman] tricks us into believing we can do everything by eliminating or accelerating tedious, time-consuming chores. [Burkeman] Instead of trying to simplify, we look for shortcuts and gimmicks. Another insidious effect is that we stop engaging in some activities that we value and do the convenient things instead.
“Convenience culture seduces us into imagining that we might find room for everything important by eliminating only life’s tedious tasks. But it’s a lie. You have to choose a few things, sacrifice everything else, and deal with the inevitable sense of loss that results.” [Burkeman]
A simple beautiful life isn’t a life strictly of convenience. It is taking time to choose what’s important to you, then giving up and getting rid of everything else
Why You Can’t Have Everything
“You can have anything you want in life, you just can’t have everything you want.” ~ Peter McWilliams
We live in a world of finite time and space. You only have a certain amount of time in this life and you don’t know how much that is. Chances are it’s less than it seems.
“The problem with trying to make time for everything that feels important – or just enough of what feels important is that you definitely never will.” [Burkeman]
I know I say this over and over, but only because it’s the truth . . . you’ll never have enough time to do everything you want to do or even everything you need to do. To live a simple beautiful life, you must choose the two or three roles that are most important to you at this time and let go of the rest. Getting busier, trying to do even more, will never work.
You Can’t Hustle Yourself Into a Simple Life
Once you know that a simpler life will give you what you desire, you’ll see changes you may want to make. Continuing to do the things you’ve been doing will not lead to change. But you need to take time to step back and work out what is missing and what you need to let go of. [Lawes]
Oliver Burkeman speaks of the “efficiency trap”. [Burkeman] You can make yourself more efficient at handling the myriad of details and tasks that bombard you. The catch is that the demands on your time and energy increase to fill up any “free” time. It’s a bit like Parkinson’s Law: “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.
“Your friends are more likely to praise you for being ‘driven’ . . . But as a way of achieving peace of mind, it’s doomed to fail.” [Burkeman] The solution isn’t to become more and more efficient at doing (often trivial) tasks. The answer is to trim back the demands – to simplify.
Change Your Perspective
“It’s not an incremental improvement but a change in perspective that reframes everything.” [Burkeman]
Smplicity allows you to spend your finite amount of time on the things that are important to you, the things that matter in this moment. Here are some hints to help you change your perspective.
Be grateful for what you already have.
You may struggle to find ways to simplify and to live a simpler life. Change your perspective from one of struggle to one of learning and growth and know that the answers will come. See the struggle as a time of learning and ask “what is this situation trying to teach me?” [Lawes] And remember, “if you learn to expect the best, you’ll bring more situations to you that will only ever be the best!” [Lawes]
There is always too much to do. Accept that and accept that you’ll have to make some difficult choices. [Burkeman] And accept that it will sometimes be painful. In return, you will have a simple beautiful life, and “you get to spend your finite time focused on a few things that matter to you, in themselves, right now, in this moment.” [Burkeman]
Your Simple Beautiful Life
Simplicity is letting go of things – be they physical items, calendar entries, tasks and chores, or other activities – in order to focus on the important in your life. Aim to consistently and constantly weed out the unimportant, the merely convenient. and even the essential things that aren’t your essential and necessary things. Free yourself from unnecessary complexity. Begin living your simple beautiful life. That is one step in embracing your Excelerated Life™!
Do you ever feel overwhelmed with too much to do and not enough time?
Have you found a way to simplify?
Share your experience by leaving a comment below
Excelerated Simplicity™ — freeing yourself from unnecessary complexity — is one step in creating your Excelerated Life™, a life of flourishing and well-being, and a life of meaning, purpose, and service.
Read more about the Excelerated Life™.
Burkeman, Oliver. Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management For Mortals. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021.
Dweck, Carol S. Mindset. New York: Ballantine Books, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC, 2006, 2016.
Lawes, Paula. “Live A Beautiful Life In 10 Easy Steps.” Lifehack. Lifehack, . Web. August 6, 2022.