Make it better, keep it simple
Peter Koijen and Ligia Koijen Ramos from in2motivation, an Amsterdam-based motivational training company, share some practical ways in which you can simplify your life.
Go back to a moment in time where you felt like "this is it". That moment when all of your ideas, thoughts and actions were going in the same direction and you felt like you knew exactly what to do.
We had that moment after the birth of our third child. A lot of people believe that having more than one child is easier than having just one.
However, we have observed that parents simplify things more with each child that comes along. They not only do this because of time constraints but also because they learn more with each child.
Perhaps they realise that they don’t need a diaper dispenser or a bottle steriliser when they have a dustbin and hot water in the house. And their children often show them that they don’t need expensive toys; they are just as happy to play with a simple cardboard box.
As parents, we decided to simplify. And not just our household, but our business as well. We had an "aha" moment, and the theory of simplicity is the result of that moment.
Going back to the basics
More than ever, the world is interconnected; economies, politics, social movements, technology and societies. Everything seems to be changing fast and getting more complex. Our days are full of things to do and think about.
But it seems like a lot of people are looking for moments to stop, to just be. It seems that this fast and ultra-modern world gives people the idea that they can see what they want, do what they want and say what they want.
However, the reality is that a lot of people feel overwhelmed. They want more time, a more personal connection, more security and more knowledge.
So, it seems like this world sells the idea of "you can do it all", but doesn’t give us the basics on how to do just that. The idea of simplicity is to go back to the basics and restore our personal energy from there; to focus on what is really important and beneficial to us.
Let’s start simplifying! And for that we need to create space, so the first step is:
Simplify by decluttering
Start simple. Clean your room and desk, every day for one week. After that, start cleaning your personal closet and your drawers in the office. The thought behind this is that a clean space represents a clean mind. You will soon realise that you have stuff that you don’t need.
If, at any given time, you are not sure whether or not you are going to need an item, put it in a box. Then put the box in storage for one month.
If you don’t open the box once during that month, it means that you don’t need what’s inside of it. You can give it away, sell it… but you don’t need it! Of course, during this process, it’s also important not to buy anything extra.
Simplify your story
Every day, we see people fight for their stories ("I'm X", "I'm Y") and even when you tell them that they are more than that, they get lost or even angry with you. They have created their identity with that story, and deviating from that story is too scary. They can’t seem to move on.
But the process to clean up your story is very simple. Write down your personal or professional story (or both) on one piece of paper. Read it aloud to yourself and cut out all the parts that you don’t benefit from. Keep this paper with you, so you can read it anytime you want.
Lots of people are experts in creating the perfect script for how to deal with other people or situations. In a world where everything changes all the time, we try to hold on to some security by having expectations.
However, expectations may lead to disappointment, frustration and even anxiety. Living without expectations is learning to live with what is there.
To simplify your relationships, start by recognising all the expectations you have concerning other people and write them down. Writing is a great way to let things go. After writing them down, you can share your expectations of other people with the very people you have expectations of.
This process will bring you awareness and it will help you share your feelings. The more you share, the more you will stop creating illusions and expectations, because you simply don’t need them anymore.
To be simple, you just need to be. To get some rest, peace of mind and simple happiness.
Co-authors Peter Koijen and Ligia Koijen Ramos are life coaches and motivational speakers at in2motivation, offering personal and professional training courses to optimise individual and group motivation and performance.