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  • Empty journals – Or, in my case, unwritten posts and unpublished drafts.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