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Simplify Your Life This Year

Photo by Rosie Hardy

This is the season for resolutions. I reckon you have considered one or two yourself.

Unfortunately, as the year progresses, most New Years resolution tend to fall by the wayside and end up as mere intents.

Here’s an insightful approach towards creating a life that’s not only happier and more fulfilling, but one that also automatically responds to your most meaningful resolutions.

The Complicated Life

Driven sometimes by ambition and other times by a sense of inner incompleteness, we instinctively immerse ourselves in a myriad of pursuits. We often act out of the fear of losing out, compared to our peers or our social network.

We would rather be overwhelmed than miss out on the slightest chance to please the boss, make more money, enhance our status, accumulate more clothes or gadgets, or go to the extra social event.

We also find it hard to let up on instantly responding to text messages, checking our e-mails or facebook accounts multiple times a day or randomly watching television.

What suffers in the process is our attention to our most important priorities—the ones that actually make us feel fulfilled and happier. No wonder then we are unable to see through many of our resolutions, the New Year ones being no exception.

The Familiar Lesson

“A philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him. When class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, rocks about 2 inches in diameter.

He then asked the students if the jar was full? They agreed that it was. So, the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. The students laughed.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled everything else.

“Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this is your life. The rocks are the important things—your family, your partner, your health—anything that is so important to you that if they were lost, you would be nearly destroyed. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else. The small stuff.”

“If you put the sand into the jar first (which is what we often do), there is no room for the pebbles, and the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your energy and time on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.”

Three Things that Matter

Among all the innumerable activities that we get sucked into, it’s worth reflecting and determining the ones that really matter.

Based on my experience—both, personal and working with diverse clients—I find the discipline of clarifying three things that are most important to you in life very helpful.

Three is a magical number—big enough to cover what really matters and small enough that you are compelled to sharpen your focus and keep the list manageable.

I lead a simple life—a far cry from my 24/7 corporate days. On a typical weekday, I spend about six hours in my coaching practice, an hour at meditation, an hour exercising or playing sports, three to four hours with the family and a couple of hours reading and writing.

My days are built around satisfying my top three priorities: personal wellbeing & growth, family & friends, and helping others in their journey of personal growth.

The Impact

Becoming attentive to the most important priorities of your life starts to simplify your life. Rather than storing these priorities in your subconscious but staying busy with everything else, you begin devoting appropriate amount of time towards them.

Create the time for the “big rocks” in your daily and weekly calendar first, before other activities encroach on your time.

You would perhaps end up doing fewer things, but then those would be the most relevant few. This is not easy for most of us. It requires discipline and learning to say No to other distractions. It also demands building our inner conviction about what’s most valuable to us in life and overcoming the fear of losing out.

We then need to weigh every new commitment based on whether it serves our chosen three rocks or not. Simplifying your life, towards focusing on the most vital priorities this way has the magical power to make your days more fulfilling.

5 Questions to Get Started

Do you sometimes yearn for a simpler but a more meaningful life—one where your top priorities are well met and your progress is rather effortless? If so, here are five questions to reflect upon that may help you:

  1. What are the three things most important to my life?
  2. How much time am I currently devoting towards them in a day/week?
  3. How much time do I want to start dedicating towards them to justify their importance?
  4. What do I need to do to make that happen?
  5. What am I willing to let go so that I have more time for it?

As you respond to these questions and commit yourself to this new way of life, not only would you be equipped to accomplish your New Year resolutions, but also experience greater happiness, peace, balance and fulfillment.

Wish you an Uncomplicated, Happy and Fulfilling Year ahead!

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About the author

Rajiv Vj is a life and executive coach and works with CEOs and other senior executives to help them discover and fulfill their professional and personal potential. With a passion to make a difference, he left a very successful corporate career in 2006 to start his coaching practice. He also voluntarily coaches a number of leaders of social organizations. He writes a blog on the journey of personal mastery and its impact on our lives and the world around us.

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6 thoughts on Simplify Your Life This Year

  1. Fajr

    This is something I certainly struggle and think off. To me right now what’s important is my career and doing work I love. I am learning to say no to things that I don’t truly love and am only doing for ulterior reasons be it money, keeping up with the joneses, etc… I am learning to stand confident in my choices.

    Thanks for the great post!

  2. Thanks for the sharing & great post. Yes, we should always review & remind ourselves what are the top most important things in our lives. Ironically for many, living simply is complicated.

  3. Excellent questions to get started..

    Yea , it’s all about focusing the mind..

    Thanks for the share..


  4. sonal

    Tina , I am learning a lot from your blog . Things and life is not so complicated to live with happiness and contentment . People who give priority to future are afraid from future happening,they are victims of fear and loose their peace due to reasons which even never happen . We live with fear of uncertainty and the truth is they have so much negativity in their life that they can not think positive . Better choices can be made where the three basic things fit so well in mind , if they do not fit , try to make them fit with spiritual knowledge which can be earned from leaders
    who lived a simple life and are known by whole world .
    thank u Tina again !

  5. The choice between feeling overwhelmed and possibly missing out on something… that is an excellent, excellent observation! Really enjoyed this post. Good work! :)

  6. It is amazing how a little simplicity can bring so much calm to your life. This is a great post, thanks for sharing!

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