Recently I’ve noticed the topic of minimalism riding another wave of popularity in media. The concept of living simpler in an increasingly complex society is understandably attractive.
Learning to live simpler means learning to filter out our lives’ clutter so we can focus on what truly matters. Dreaming of a simpler life is nice, but it often seems difficult to make that our reality. That’s one benefit to the plethora of resources now available on living simpler.
It’s 2017, and we have more options than ever for what to buy, what to watch, what to listen to, what to major in, where to go to church – you name it.
In Joe Calloway’s Keep it Simple: Unclutter Your Mind to Uncomplicate Your Life (2016), he explained how people actually seem to do better with limited choices. He referenced an interesting social experiment conducted in 2000 in which Sheena Iyengar of Columbia University found that “more sales of jam were made when there were fewer choices” on display in a grocery store than when there were a larger number of options (p.8).
But there’s more to simplicity than narrowing down our options. Simplifying our lives also involves searching ourselves to identify our top priorities.
Calloway wrote, “The winners in work, in business, and in life aren’t those who do the most things. The winners are those people who do the most important things” (p.19).
Calloway prompts readers to identify and list the three “most important things” to them and includes the following related Tony Robbins quote: “One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular” (p.36).
After he offered a practical example of struggling to find an item in one’s cluttered refrigerator (likely a situation to which some of us can relate), Calloway wrote, “In life, we periodically need to simplify and get focused by doing a version of cleaning out the refrigerator. One of the most powerful things we can do is let go of those things that are complicating our lives and getting in the way of what we really want” (p. 55-56).
Living simpler isn’t easy, and the first steps in that direction seem to require us to make some tough decisions about our priorities.
When you intentionally take a moment to pause and reflect, how would you complete the exercise found in Calloway’s book with your three most important life goals?
Let this exercise be a simple challenge for you today.
At The Refuge Center for Counseling, we can happily connect you with a therapist to journey beside you as you learn what it looks like to live a life focused on what truly matters to you.