For many people, the holiday season is the busiest, most complicated, most stressful time of year.
Christmas parties, gift shopping and wrapping, decorating, travel plans, end-of-the-year projects, planning for the new year… all of this on top of everyday life!
So what can you do to simplify? Is it even possible to simplify when things are getting crazy?
Yes, it is possible. But you need to be open to a little bit of change.
If you are ready to make this silly season a little less silly, then ask yourself these 5 questions:
1: What are you striving for?
In your life, you are always striving for something: success, higher numbers at work, a new house, achievements, financial independence, an image that you want others to have of you … something. And you aren’t always aware of it. So take a minute to reflect: what are you striving for right now?
You can tell what that thing is by looking at what is stressing you out, what has been occupying your mind, or what fills your life with things to do.
If you can loosen your grip on what you are striving for, you can simplify. You might even realise that this thing you are striving for isn’t real, and is only a fantasy. It’s not important. In fact, you can have happiness right now, without this thing you’re striving for, if you accept that what you have is already good enough. Where you are is already perfect.
2: What are you clinging to?
We all cling to things in our lives: our Christmas traditions, our love of sweets, our Internet distractions, our need to be right, our desire for justice in unfair situations, our craving for recognition and admiration.
You may not be aware of this clinging, but it can feel like a tightness, a stress, or an unwillingness to let go of how things are or how you want them to be. Take a minute to reflect on what you don’t want to let go of, what is causing you this tightness and stress, and what makes you dig your heels in.
3: What can you limit yourself to?
If you have 50 things on your plate, will you really have time to eat all those things? Will you have the space to give any of them focus? Will you enjoy all of them?
What if you only limited your plate to five things?
You would have more space, more focus, and more enjoyment. Take a minute to look at the various areas of your life right now, and see if you can limit each one. Have a limit on your tasks each day, a limit on meetings or parties, a limit on requests you can say yes to, a limit on how much time you spend on email or social media, and a limit on how many hours you work.
Set arbitrary limits and force yourself to make choices. Adjust the limits if absolutely necessary, but don’t just widen the floodgates because you don’t want to choose. Choose, and your life will get simpler. Say no to the rest, or get out of those commitments by saying you can’t do them.
4: Who do you want to spend more time with?
Spending time with friends and loved ones is the best way to use your holiday time. But you can’t say yes to everyone. What if you could only choose 3-5 people to spend more time with? Maybe fewer, depending on what your family situation is. Take a minute to think who that might be.
Now prioritise your time so that you limit everything else, but make time for those people. Make some dates/appointments with them, block off time on your calendar, and make this time actually happen.
5: What can you let go of?
Think of the things you are striving for, and clinging to … can you let go of them? Before you say no, consider how it might be possible. And when you limit things in your life, see if you can let go of the things that don’t make the cut.
Letting go isn’t easy, because if it’s in your life, it means you have already said yes. You have already decided it’s important enough to be in your life. But if you don’t let go, your life remains complicated. You are trying to say yes to everything, and that means you have too much on your plate. That leads to busy-ness, stress, unhappiness, and worse health.
Simplicity requires asking these tough questions and then learning to let go. That isn’t easy work, but the alternative is much harder.