in reverb10

Less Stuff, More Happiness in 2011

In the opening of my partner Sam Davidson’s book, 50 Things Your Life Doesn’t Need, he says the following:

“The problem is that we have too many things – too much stuff – distracting us, daring us to let it go and pursue our hidden passion. We all have certain responsibilities based on our place in life. You may be a parent or a spouse, a boss or a neighbor – titles tat are significant to you and challenge you to be a better person. If you derive meaning from these titles, then they don’t need to be eschewed just so that you can have fun finding a passion.

Chances are, these titles don’t even stand in the way of finding and living your passion. They carry some sort of importance with them that in turn motivates you in a particular way. What stands in the way of finding and living your passion are things: Distractions. Diversions. Disposable stuff. Those are what your life doesn’t need.”

Well said, my friend. It’s easy to think about what you do need – or rather – what you want. But thinking about what you don’t need, thinking about the excess “stuff” you can get rid of, is challenging to say the least. Our “stuff” is a reflection of who we are – this can be physical stuff or psychological stuff – that new Ipad you just had to have but probably don’t need, or the acceptance from others that may not be as important as you think. What does your “stuff” say about you?

11 Things My Life Doesn’t Need

  • Unpassionate activism – I’m guilty of taking on more than I probably should. In 2011 (and beyond) I plan to focus on what really matters, and instead of trying to be a jack of all trades and spreading myself too thin, focus on my true passions and talents – while trusting others to handle the things I can’t, or don’t want to manage myself.
  • Empty journals – Or, in my case, unwritten posts and unpublished drafts. I wrote about it a few days ago, but in 2011 I’m going to shoot from the hip more often, write with emotion, write with passion, and quiet the inner-editor.
  • A million friends – It may feel good to have 524 random people you barely know wish you a “Happy Birthday” on Facebook – but have you ever tried to maintain 524 friendships? Yeah, it’s not possible. Focus on the people in your life that matter most and strengthen those bonds instead of clinging to hundreds of weak ones.
  • Bucket Lists – I’ve never been a fan (no offense to you bucket list folks). You make a “life list” of things you want to do instead of getting out there and doing them. Here’s to a lot more doing and a lot less “talking about doing” in 2011.
  • Poor finances - I’ve been extremely fortunate to completely turn around my financial situation in the past year – in 2011 I’ll continue down that path, and continue planning and saving for things my life actually DOES need.
  • Worry – Sam puts it simply, “Spend time correcting problems, not creating more”. I faced a lot of ‘worry’ in 2010 because I didn’t have a plan, I didn’t have security or stability, and for much of the year, I figured things out in stride. I’ve learned that all worrying will do is hold you back from where you want to be and that above all, you have to trust yourself.
  • Noise - Instead of listening to everything, I’m going to pay attention to less and absorb more. In my line of work, there’s a plethora of noise, a lot of talking and not a lot of listening. Here’s to contributing less to the noise and instead, focusing on the messages that matter.
  • A long commute – Say goodbye to spending 2 hours (or more) a day in the car driving to work. So is the beauty of running your own business and working from home. Of course, working on the couch does have it’s challenges (I’m looking at you 90s sitcom reruns that are on all day)
  • Complaints without action - Complaining about your job, about where you live, about a relationship, without doing anything to improve the situation is a waste of time and energy. Sam says, “Complaining should be the beginning. Complaints should lead to action”. If they don’t…stop complaining.
  • Perfection – Because it’s not possible. The perfect is in the imperfect. Don’t focus on being the best, focus on being your best. Words of wisdom that I’ll continue to put into action with my own life.
  • A plan - I’ve found the beauty in not having everything planned out. In living spontaneously and in taking opportunities as they come. In a year full of unexpected twists and turns, instead of fighting the unknown, I’ll embrace it and continue to enjoy every minute of it.

What stuff is holding you back? What things can you get rid of?

Check out the full rundown of my #reverb10 posts here | Image c/o Rob Williams

Add Your Voice



  1. This is not at all what I thought it was going to be, but it was just what I needed – thank you! I especially love #1 – I have the same problem… it’s hard to be everything to everyone!

  2. This is a great list Matt. I think “perfection” might make my list too. And I love what you said about plans: “In a year full of unexpected twists and turns, instead of fighting the unknown, I’ll embrace it and continue to enjoy every minute of it.” I need to learn how to do this.

  3. Matt, I like your writing voice and your content. You know, writing with pure passion and on topics that give you a burning fire inside makes writing SO MUCH easier. Some of my best blog posts I pulled together during a shower (post shower hair-drying time included but you get the point). They came out gushing and the core of the idea was born because of a burning desire to write about it….And as to the rest of your list, fantastic! I am with you on just about all of it. I want to add that I want to renew my commitments to daily meditation, daily yoga, and to stop being so frantic all day long but instead to be mindful, productive, worry-free, stress-free and calmer……Gosh it sounds wonderful. I really should write it down…(Oh wait, I did :))! – Thanks again!

    • Yes! I’m with you 100% (and thanks for the kind words). I wrote about it yesterday, but that ‘meditation’ time for me is first thing in the morning – I commit to waking up earlier so I can have some uninterrupted time to myself before getting the day started – and it works wonder. Thanks for coming by – glad we’ve connected!

  4. I’m going to have less fear in 2011. Or maybe the same amount, but giving it less attention. Either way, I am going to take more action!!

    Loved your list :)

  5. I found your part on noise to be pretty relevant for me, since I’m catching up on all my reading from the past two weeks now. I simply haven’t had the time to read everything – and, to be honest, I didn’t really miss a whole lot of the people I’m subscribed to, since they aren’t providing me with much value (there are exceptions, like you, of course, but the vast majority have been ‘meh’).

    What’s holding me back? Placing limits on myself and lowering my standards. Sure, perfection isn’t what I want – but I truly want to be my best. I’ve gotten a bit complacent, and I’ve gotta go back to kicking my own ass. Not beating myself up, of course, but pushing my comfort zone and taking calculated risks is the order of the day.

    I find it ironic that you’re going to shoot from the hip more, whereas I’m finding that I’m going to be a lot more selective with the ideas I entertain and push ‘publish’ on. I want to contribute to the ridiculous sea of noise that surrounds us as little as possible, while giving the most value possible. Call it improving my signal-to-noise ratio :)

    Excellent post, Matt!

    • I’ve just found that by NOT “shooting from the hip” I end up censoring myself and holding myself back more than I’d like to (not always). But, it’s not the same stage everyone is at – and some are much more effective when they spend several hours on a post, crafting it in a beautifully poetic way. I think there are places for that kind of writing, but in the case of my blog, and most blogs, I think the emphasis should be less on crafting the right words and more on crafting the right conversations.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by, Brett.

  6. I’m putting away life-sucking, time-wasting, and energy-draining businesses behind. Just pulled the plug on one; even when it’s “automated”, it could be the worst form of micro-distraction ever.

    Focus on passion; I prefer helping others getting started with services that I have control and managing them personally.

    It’s a “you might want to do this” and actually seeing things getting done vs saying but not seeing things being done at all, even when the effort for the 2 are the same.

    Righty, that was a quick 2 cents addon to the comments. :)

    Have a great Decemeber Matt!

  7. I too have stacks of empty journals possibly because I find them beautiful taking up valuable shelf space?It’s funny how two people who have never met can be stressed out by all of the same things :0) Go us!

  8. In 2011, I think I’m actually going to focus on health. Yes, I know. It’s the resolution everyone makes but only keeps for about a day and moves on and that’s because it’s a challenge and not an easy one. A few rare people actually live to tell the tale.

    Also, I want the year to be about action. Less talking, more doing. I have all these great ideas swimming in my head but nothing on paper or accomplished. So less planning, more doing and making them happen.

    Thanks for the reminder. :)

  9. Glad to see the prompt and the ensuing discussion have been worthwhile. Thanks for playing, Matt. And best of luck getting rid of all this in 2011. Here’s to a more passionate future!

  10. Thanks, Matt. Exactly what I needed. I need less of all these things, too. Something I am working on starting NOW. Thanks for the extra push and support. :)