At the beginning of the technology boom it was touted that computers and technology would help people accomplish things much more quickly–freeing up their time. However, this has not proven to be the case. In fact, I read that technology has increased the speed of our lives by 300%. Do you agree?
Today we can be reached 24/7 by phone, text, email, and social media. The demand on our time has never been greater!
I have coached executives who receive 400-500 emails a day. One such leader was having work performance, health, and relationship problems. He said, “I have allowed my job to steal my soul.” Clearly the path he was on was not working well. He was watching his life implode and crumble into pieces before his eyes.
It took a crisis to wake him up and motivate him to re-evaluate his life at a level he never had before. As he looked at the ruins of his life, one word came to the forefront–simplify. Simplifying was not some hapless platitude; it was a matter of success or failure for him.
“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”Hans Hofmann
Hard But Good Choices
In 2008, my family decided to simplify radically. We made the decision to move to Costa Rica and Panama for 6 months. The goal was to give the kids an opportunity to experience a new culture, learn a new language, engage in service, and to simplify.
There were many adjustments to make including taking cold showers, drinking horrible tasting water, eating unidentifiable food, and attempting to learn a new language. Beneficially, we learned to let go of certain expectations and trappings in order to simplify and focus on the significant in life. Simplifying was difficult at first and liberating as time progressed.
One hard lesson we learned about simplifying involved the kids desire to take the family beagle with us.
I love dogs and was excited to take him. Little did I know how challenging it would be to get all the documentation, USDA reports, shots, airline ticket (cost more than our tickets), medical examination, boarding arrangements, medications, microchip implants etc. We researched and found out exactly what we needed to do to get him into Panama and Costa Rica.
Based on our research and several conversations with officials in both countries, we thought the hard part was over. WRONG! It was just beginning. Come to find out, in addition to all the above, getting him into Panama was going to be a two-day process. Then each time we crossed between the countries there would be additional fees, exams, and more taxes.
Clearly, traveling with him would be too complicated. Painfully, our family made the gut-wrenching decision to find a new home for our little beagle. We needed to adapt and simplify. We found a loving home for him, a home that we felt would take good care of him.
It was a painful lesson in simplification that enabled us to focus on the significant things.
Simplifying often requires us to make hard decisions, let go of things we think important, and embrace a new way of thinking. The benefit is more time, energy, and bandwidth to focus on what is significant.
Four Quick Steps to Simplify Your Life
I want to challenge you to simplify your life. Following these four steps will help you tap into the freedom that simplification can bring.
- Identify where you are stressed or challenged.
- Choose one thing you can let go of that will simplify life.
- Close your eyes and picture the freedom you will feel if you let this one this go.
- Take a deep breath and let it go.
Each day follow this same process. You will be surprised at the end of the month what a difference a small daily change can make.