As I have mentioned before….I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. They set me up for failure and leave me feeling totally incompetent and useless before I’ve even sunk my teeth into the new year.
HOWEVER, after several years of frustrating starts and stops on creative projects, blogging, YouTube, small business entrepreneurship, and *cringe* self- improvement, I have set one goal for myself this year: keep life as simple as possible.**Gasp** What a concept, right?
While this may seem an anti-climactic goal for some, it’s going to be challenging for me because I must overcome my habits of over-thinking, over-complicating, and self-comparison in order to achieve it.
Of course, knowing what I MUST do to achieve the “simplify goal” is the first step. Knowing HOW to do those things is the next and, inevitably, most difficult step.I’ll spare you the countless boring examples I could provide of my over-thinking, over-complicating and self-comparison. Instead, I’ll just share the few baby steps that will help me begin this process of what basically involves completely retraining my brain.
Perhaps if you’re like me, you will find something helpful here or you may have more suggestions to add which would be great. Please feel free to share!
1. Ditch the Over-Thinking Habit
As long as I can remember, I have compulsively over-thought most decisions in my life. I spend too much time churning over every possible “what if” scenario instead of taking the time to be present in the here and now. It’s sort of like thinking about choking on your next two bites of food instead of slowing down to focus on the bite you’re still chewing on.
If you’re an over-thinker you know it gets exhausting and while the drive behind over-thinking is to avoid calamity the end result is often a mental paralysis that means you end up doing nothing at all. Goals and dreams are never achieved because you can’t pry yourself from home plate.
So, how does one stop over-thinking? In my experience, you have to challenge yourself to slow down and focus only on one task at a time. You need to take time to write down the steps that will get you to the end result. Putting energy into writing down steps for success rather than thinking of everything that might (but probably won’t) go wrong is more effective than wasting that energy churning over endless “this will never work” scenarios which then leads to abandoning projects before they’ve even begun.
Once you’ve written down your steps for reaching your goal, then I think it’s helpful to write up some contingency plans. Kicking out those negative thoughts and relocating them onto paper (or computer) frees your brain from that negative nagging and makes room for more productive and creative thinking.
2. Stop Over-Complicating Everything
This habit is particularly challenging for me. Whenever I begin a new endeavor, I find the most convoluted, complicated, involved, and expensive way to get there. I have countless examples of this, but here’s a simple one. I love estate sales and treasure hunting at thrift stores. The problem is, I can’t keep all my finds, so I recently decided to dip my toe into ebay. Obviously, this meant I’d have to photograph the items for sale. So, out came the big camera, props, backgrounds, a different camera lens that did me no good because I have no idea what I’m doing, etc., etc., etc. After hours of taking photos, I hated everyone of them.
As I sat looking in disgust at the photos on my laptop, I realized that once again I was making things harder than they had to be. I put everything away except my backgrounds, downloaded the ebay app, took photos on my phone and had 10 items listed in less time than it took me to take the umpteen photos that I didn’t like.
…striving for perfection typically leads to frustration which leads to inaction.
Now, I’m not going to lie, I’m not overjoyed with all of the photos I took on my phone either, but you know what, they aren’t terrible, the items got listed, and the sense of achievement I felt at the end of the day was worth putting up with a few imperfect photos. For the first time in ages, I accomplished a goal! (No sales yet, but early days.) whoo hoo!
The lesson here is not only that we need to remember that often the simplest way is the best way but also that striving for perfection typically leads to frustration which leads to inaction.
3. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
I’ve touched on this in a previous post: I am particularly susceptible to self-comparison especially after spending countless hours scrolling Instagram or watching YouTube.
While social media has it’s uses and is not in itself a bad thing, there are too many opportunities for me to start feeling like a total loser because I can’t keep up with the latest lifestyle/organization/fashion/beauty “influencers.” Clearly, this is NOT the fault of the influencer, however, I’m convinced that if you easily fall into the trap of self-comparison, the internet IS NOT your friend.
Also, remember, you don’t see the behind the scenes situation – you may be unknowingly comparing yourself to a YouTuber who can afford to pay others to help with her daily home or business tasks. This is the danger of the internet – it is rarely a level playing field and we never quite have the total picture.
I understand this may not be a problematic area for other people, but for me limiting my exposure to these types of channels helps keep me on my own path and prevents me from detouring onto someone else’s.
Again, let me reiterate, I understand this is MY problem and not the influencer’s fault (although some are very good at what they do).
This is the danger of the internet – it is rarely a level playing field and we never quite have the total picture.
So, five months into the new year (better late then never), I feel like I’ve finally got a plan and a path to get to my goal of simplifying. There are many other areas that I could discuss in this post, but I’m ignoring that nagging voice in my head telling me to keep on writing because I know it will only over-complicate matters.
If you have any tips and tricks you use to keep things simple, I’d love to hear about them. Here’s to keeping it simple (and sane) in 2019.