Do you sometimes feel like your life is so busy that you are never in control? That there’s always way too much to do and that it could never possibly get done? I feel like that a lot! At least I did. Now I’m really getting into the reality and the grounding that greater productivity comes from actually doing less. Yes, doing less. It’s just that the “less” has to be absolutely targeting your highest priority and your highest calling.
I’ve never been one to sit around idle – I remember as a teen and in my early 20’s, where other friends were hanging out relaxing on a Saturday, I had breakfast plans with one person, lunch plans with another, off to the gym in the afternoon then something else at night. I like being busy and I like the stimulation of a lot of activity. Fast-forward to today, my life is still full. I have a medical practice where I see patients as well as manage the running of the business, I’m editing my fourth book, I write this blog, I teach and lecture on essential oils, plus I spend a lot of time with my husband and daughter. The more time goes on, however, the more I realize that in fact, less is more, and that the key to success is streamlining things as much as possible and maintaining laser focus on what is important.
I recently wrote a blog post about a book I read called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It was about a Japanese lady who had a business going into people’s homes and helping them get rid of stuff. The premise was that by clearing space in your home and only keeping the things that bring great joy, one allows for new things, new opportunities, new people, new sources of great joy. I’ve been voraciously tidying up, throwing out, sorting and purging, and I have to say, there is great relief in doing so. It definitely feels like there’s more space.
The process of throwing things away and creating space is also allowing me to do that in my work life. It’s almost like that by doing it with my possessions, I have had the practice, the neural pathways have been developed, and it has spilled over to other areas. It might not sound like a big deal, but I actually declined several interviews about Lyme disease in the past two weeks. I know, it’s was just a couple of interviews, but I would usually do all the interviews I’m asked to do. I also have not committed to going to the Lyme conference this year, which I have done every year for 10 years, even though I’ve been asked to speak. Why? Not because I’m not interested in Lyme disease anymore, but because my focus this year is on growing other aspects of my business, and on growing The Naturopathic Mama. Every invitation, every travel opportunity, every request is not filtered through that goal. If it doesn’t help me in that pursuit, it doesn’t get put on the list, it’s that simple.
Saying no to things gets to be a really addictive habit! It feels great!! Of course, I don’t mean saying no as a toddler says no, just because they can (and to everything indiscriminately). I mean thoughtfully and sensitively saying no with the goal to putting yourself and your highest good first. I have identified my eight highest priorities, and every decision I make has to enhance each of those eight priorities in order to make the cut. If it’s out of alignment with my highest priorities, it’s a no.
Another book that I highly recommend is called Essentialism: the Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown. This really reinforces that concept that doing less is a disciplined pursuit. Life will so easily naturally spiral out of control and we’ll be at the mercy of other people’s agendas, unless we make a point to choose otherwise. It talks about how we have to make choices every single day to discern what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not. This has also been a life-changing book for me, and it’s a must for anyone who feels a deep need to be less busy and feel less chaotic. I even applied that principle to my to-do list – I looked at everything that had been on there for ages, but that wasn’t absolutely essential, and I just deleted those things off. Whew, what a relief that was. Have I missed them or has anything suffered for not doing them? Nope, not a thing.
The other thing that I’m paying a lot of attention to now is my partnership with God. In the realm of less is more, I am clear that 10 minutes in prayer is more likely to produce fruit than 60 minutes of my distracted over-busy-ness. I know that I can’t achieve my goals in life without the touch of Heaven, so I’m taking extra time to slow down, get quiet with God and just wallow in the stillness of it. I read a book a few years ago that I just pulled out to re-read called Dreaming with God: Secrets to Redesigning Your World Through God’s Creative Flow, by Bill Johnson and James Goll, which I loved because it really reinforced to me that God is there ready, willing and able to help all of us in the pursuit of our dreams; and that our dreams are a partnership, a collaboration, between us and God. Our calling is not just handed to us whether we like it or not, nor will God abandon us in our own dreams and visions. He wants us to dream, vision, then bring Him in and co-create with Him.
Being the Queen of Doing Too Much, I’m realizing that this is a process, and that simplifying life is not something that happens overnight. As Greg McKeown says though, it is a discipline, just like eating well and exercising. It’s also up to us – no one is going to come along and do it for you. In fact, most of the time other people are asking things of us and needing our time. We’re the only ones who can put the brakes on. I love the three books I mentioned in this article – they are all three so different and come from completely different perspectives, and yet the messages have the same end goal – get rid of excess stuff, get with God to get a clear vision on what your highest priorities and callings are, then choose only things that contribute to those absolute highest priorities. I can promise that life will feel lighter and more manageable when living this way, so my prayer for you is that if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can tap into these ideas. We’ll do it together.