Getting rid of stuff isn't difficult.
Getting rid of a lot of stuff isn't difficult.
Getting rid of a lot of stuff as you're nearing the end of the month is a bit more of a challenge.
As with any new habit, at the beginning it's all exciting and new. As I embarked on the Minimalism Game for March, I was pumped at the thought of getting rid of almost 500 items.
I got started with all the unbridled enthusiasm one could possibly have. I was practically giddy with excitement as I proudly got rid of one item after another.
I hit the halfway point and was still in my stride. This is easy, I thought. No problem, I said to myself.
And then the 25th day hit, and suddenly I came to a screeching halt.
What happened? How was I on a roll for over three weeks and then suddenly whammy?!
Part of it has to do with running out of stuff that was easily seen. Now I'm having to work harder and dig deeper. That's good though. I'm really looking through stuff and making tough decisions. I still continue to ask myself, if I was going to move tomorrow could everything I want to take with me fit in my car?
I'm not there yet, but I'm getting closer. It's time to go see what I can find.
Sometimes I overthink things.
Let me retract that. Many times I overthink things. And then I get mad at myself for doing it. I spend so much time thinking about what I want to do instead of actually doing it.
I'm really good at planning things out. I have something mapped out in my head and I might actually write it down. Then there's the follow-through, the actual work. That's where I get stuck.
Much of it is that I get in my own way. I think a lot of us do that. In fact, I made a confession to my husband recently about my writing. I told him I think what's holding me back is that I fear that it's not going to work. So, if I just do all this thinking and planning, but I don't put the work into it, then I can't actually fail.
When we take a risk, more than likely we are going to fail.
And that scares me.
You see, I'm the queen of calculated risks. It's easy for me to jump into something where I'm pretty confident I'm going to succeed. Or, I don't even mind jumping into something I don't know very well but there is low risk. Like, even when I have failed at it, it's been no big deal. No one really knew about it anyway. I could easily pick myself up, dust myself off, look around and know that no one was looking anyway. So, I could just move on easily.
But now I'm at a crossroad.
My husband finally asked me yesterday on our way to Omaha, "What's your end game with your writing and consulting? Where do you see this in 3-5 years?"
At first I couldn't say anything. My thoughts swirled around in my head and I felt panicky. Then the words spilled out and I couldn't stop them. As I talked to him about my plans to make writing and consulting my full-time gig, I realized that I really had thought this through. I had an actual plan for making a go of it. It was tangible and I had timelines for everything.
It is time for the real work to begin. The planning is in a good place, but now the action must follow. I kind of feel like I'm standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon. It's just so immense and the expanse is breathtaking. It goes seemingly on forever and the possibilities are endless.
But then I have this little voice in the back of my head that says, "Yeah, but if you have one wrong misstep, that's going to be one hell of a fall. There's no coming back from something that epic."
Really, though? Won't I regret it if I don't take the risk at all?
Pretty much, yeah. So, I'm putting myself out there. Even though I can't fully prepare myself for all the rejection I'm going to experience, it has already happened. I submitted a proposal to continue writing a column for three newspapers I had contributed to free for two years. They turned it down, and I no longer write for them. I've finally realized that I'm pretty damn good at this whole writing thing, I love it, and I'm going to get paid for it.
I recently applied for a job that I only partially have the credentials for, and I'm long shot, but I did it anyway. I applied for a program at Medium that is an even bigger long shot, but I don't care. I did it anyway.
Yeah, pretty sure there are going to be a lot of fails along the way, but I also know there's going to be a payoff by working at it, persevering, and taking risks.
And, so I'm going to take a risk here and ask you to do something for me. I'm building an email subscriber list for Get To It called GTI Wednesday. It's a middle of the week pick me up. It takes maybe five minutes out of your day to read with quick hitters to add positive vibes to your day and the rest of the week. My goal is to get to 100 subscribers by May 1. Right now I'm at 25.
The ask is for you to subscribe. Go to Get To It, scroll down to the bottom of the homepage, and get on the list.
And, if you don't think it's for you or you subscribe to several newsletters already, that's cool. Could I then ask you to forward the information to someone you think could greatly use a positive boost during the week?
Okay, it's time for me to get moving to the next action on my list.
Today I woke up a little bummed.
You see, I need a new laptop. That's not 100% accurate. I have a Chromebook and it works absolutely fine, but I hate having to be connected to the internet for it. If I lose access, then I'm stuck.
Well, that's not completely accurate either. There are these items known as pen and paper that I could very easily use to write. But I digress.
Back to the laptop issue.
I found a Macbook Pro on sale that I could finance for the next 18 months. Calculating it out, I would be paying $77.00 per month on said laptop. That's completely doable.
Then I asked myself, "What am I doing?"
I'm on a spending fast this year. I'm working to get out of debt. Buying this laptop is not going to help me get out of debt faster. It's just going to add to it. However, I had rationalized in my mind why getting it was such a good idea. It would assist with my writing, I could launch a podcast easier, I could write when the internet was down (instead of using archaic pen and paper).
But the bottom line was still the same. More debt.
Now I should have been patting myself on the back for making this decision, and yet I felt bummed. And then I felt guilty about being bummed.
I was bummed, because if I wasn't in debt to begin with (at almost age 50) then I would probably have the money to just buy the laptop without financing. If I wasn't in debt, I wouldn't be on this spending fast. And then I felt bummed for wanting this material item in the first place.
That's a lot of "bummed-outed-ness" (should I trademark that word?).
Then I had a cup of coffee, watched the sun start to rise, and listened to the birds chirping outside my window. I took a deep breath. I'm healthy and all my needs are met. I have great relationships and a day job that does more than pay the bills. It's helping me pay off debt. I enjoy writing and I'm working on an ebook that will eventually turn into a full-length one. I could easily walk away from all the stuff and start over if I needed to.
"Most of us are just about as happy as we make up our minds to be." -Abraham Lincoln
Our 16th President hit the nail on the head.
You see, it's not about the stuff in our lives. It's not about the people in our lives. Happiness comes from within. The stuff and the people complement who we already are. We are not defined by the job we have, the size of the house we own, or the car we drive. Although there are a lot of people out there who do define us by those things, I challenge you to ignore those voices and live by your own definition of happiness.
Sometimes it's tough to find a starting point, especially when we're in the middle of "bummed-outed-ness". So, here are some jumping off points:
What do you enjoy most about who you are?
What positive vibes do you bring to the world?
What brings a smile to your face?
What experiences bring you the most happiness?
If you left everything behind to begin somewhere new, what would you need to do to prepare yourself with confidence and happiness?
Take some time to answer these questions. Find a quiet place to just sit and be with yourself. You are the best person to spend your time with, so start doing some of that today.
Each day brings with it a fresh start. It doesn't matter what happened yesterday. Today is a blank canvas ready for us to paint whatever picture we choose.
But how often do we let what happened yesterday affect today? How often do we worry about what is coming tomorrow? Why don't we simply enjoy what today brings us?
For example, I could be fretting over the fact that there is potential rain for the rest of the week and it will be colder. I could be thinking about having spring break on Thursday and Friday and not being able to get outside for any of it.
Meanwhile, today is beautiful. It's in the mid-60s and the sun is shining.
If I consume my thoughts with what the rest of the week might potentially be like weather-wise, I'm going to miss out on the beauty of today.
Unfortunately, this happens too often in our lives, but what can we do about it?
I'm reading a book called Get Your Sh*t Together, and the prevailing theme is to employ strategy, focus, and commitment. In that order. With everything we do.
First, have a strategy for the day. I have three items on my work list and three items on my personal/side hustle list. No more, no less. The three must-dos that absolutely have to get done that day.
Next is focus. From 7:55-3:25, my focus is the three work items at my day job. I put the list where I can see it so that I don't forget. I can't go home until those items are done. Some days I stay later than 3:25, but when I walk out of my office those must-dos are crossed off.
Finally, it's time to commit. As an elementary school counselor, time is a precious commodity. I never know when one of my little ones is going to have a meltdown, so it's imperative for me to take advantage of any work time I have available. Today I finished my must-dos by 10:30. I then met with a few students and did some extras I don't necessarily always get to. Plus, when the clock hit 3:25, I was free to walk out knowing that my must-dos were done.
We can choose to nail down a strategy, focus, and commit with every aspect of our day.
We're staying present.
We're staying in the moment.
We're staying in today.
And that's all we need.
We read articles all the time about eating better, getting exercise, being positive, having a healthy social life, and on and on and on.
Sometimes I fear that we get immune to what we read thinking it's the same old thing over and over. We know what we're supposed to do. We have the knowledge. We just don't choose to execute.
Enter Agnes Orcutt.
Agnes was Nebraska's second-oldest person at 109. She died on Thursday, but boy did she know how to live life. According to Andrew J. Nelson's article in the Omaha World-Herald (3/18/17), Agnes exercised, ate the right foods, attended daily Mass, volunteered, and had a positive outlook.
We all KNOW we need to get a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise each day, but what are we doing about it? I once read that Jerry Seinfeld wrote a joke each day. After he would do so, he would draw a red 'X' on his calendar. He made it visual, and he didn't want to break the string.
It really isn't difficult to get outside for a walk, hit the gym for a quick workout, or do some exercises in our home. It's a matter of choice. Sometimes we need to change it up and try something new. According to the World-Herald article, Agnes learned how to swim at age 65. She did it two to three times a week for the next 35 years. She was a swimmer until she hit 100!!
What's your excuse now?
Many people (including me at various times in my life) keep a food journal to track what they eat and how often. It gives them an idea as to their eating patterns and what they are consuming.
I have something much easier I recently read. Short and simple advice: if you eat foods that don't have a label, you don't have to worry about calories.
Let that one sink in for a moment. If we are eating fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains as much as possible, then we don't have to worry about writing in a food journal ever again.
I don't often write about the spiritual side of life, because I have a somewhat eclectic view. But here's something to take note of. Agnes attended daily Mass. She lived to be 109. There just might be some correlation there. Although, others will say it's a coincidence. I don't care what side you're on. Just something to think about.
I'm not a particularly spiritual person in the sense of going to church every Sunday. I don't believe going to your place of worship weekly makes you a good _____ (you fill in the blank). It's how you live your life based upon your beliefs and values.
When we volunteer, we are often the beneficiaries more so than the effort we donated time to. We get a rush of positive feelings when we do good. Agnes volunteered at St. Peter Catholic Church. I don't know what she did there, but I imagine she was the type of person who chipped in to help in whatever capacity she was needed.
People don't often donate their time, because they don't think they are doing enough. If they can't do a lot then they might as well not do anything at all.
Wrong thinking, my friend.
Every little bit helps. I volunteer at my local library one Saturday a month on average. Three hours. It isn't a lot of time, but I know it's appreciated. I usher at my church 10-12 times a year. That's a total of 10-12 hours.
The key is to do something.
When I saw having a positive outlook as the most important way to live a long life in the article about Agnes, I did a bit of a happy dance inside. According to her daughter, Joan O'Keefe, she described her mother as someone who was always looking forward and that she was very grateful.
It doesn't do us any good to dwell in the past. We can't go back and alter anything anyway, but it's so hard for a lot of people to just let things go. I'm not saying you're going to live to be 109 if you let things go, but again, there's a bit of a theme going on here.
We can show our gratitude everyday. Bedros Keuilian, CEO of Fit Body Boot Camp International, goes through a five minute gratitude exercise daily. He thinks about three things he's grateful for and three people he's grateful for. He then texts those three people to let them know he's grateful for them and thanks them for being in his life. (mymorningroutine.com).
Keuilian takes five minutes each day to show his gratitude for others, and he's the CEO of one of the fastest growing fitness franchises in the world.
Kind of humbling, isn't it?
None of us knows how much time we have. It's important for us to be in the moment and live in the present each and everyday. Those days add up.
And who knows?
Perhaps, when we get to the end of our days, we will have reached 39,785 of them like Agnes did.
I'm a lover of life, an eternal optimist, and I have an intense desire to add value through simple living and positive vibes.