The Power of Simplifying Your Life and Work

Lately, I've been selling, giving away, and throwing out everything I can.

I've also been deleting things off my many To-Do lists.

In my pursuit of a simpler life, I've also been reading books on philosophy, with one in particular making my subconscious churn: Fame, Fortune, and Ambition: What Is the Real Meaning of Success?" by Osho.

I sometimes get resistance to reading philosophy like this because I fear it will kill my motivation.

It feels like I get bouts of this when I find myself pursuing a philosophical period of my life.

(It also might be the fact that I seek out these books when I'm feeling unmotivated rather than these books causing me to be unmotivated.)

As you might have guessed, I've been unmotivated lately.

But I think that's a good thing.

I think unforced change is healthy. And I think we too often fight it rather than let it take its course.

Usually these periods of time bring perspective and even some much-needed balance. They also bring a mental reset, which is often the thing that gets out of whack.

For someone that is prone to have more ideas than time, the tug and pull of motivation is something I always feel uneasy with at first. I feel guilty for going slow or for taking "time off."

But as time goes on, I realize the need for it and the wisdom in it. It's nature doing its thang. And one thing I've learned about nature is: don't mess with her or she will crush you.

For me, studying philosophy, meditation, mindfulness, Buddhism, Stoicism, Nietzsche, and the like, are integral to making sure I don't lose sight of the things that matter in life, which are often sitting right in front of my face.

I'm sure you can relate.

My pursuit of monetary "success" is primarily for security and freedom and not about an unhealthy attachment to being famous or powerful. I've been aware of the traps of "success" for years now and feel I have a reasonable understanding of myself and what I want so that I can avoid them.

That said, I think there is a dose of this drive baked into all of us, and I'm not sure if anyone can get rid of it completely. So the best we can do is understand it and learn how to manage it by observing ourselves without judgment.

I think I've done a reasonable job at this so far, though I do fall into bouts of stress when I become too consumed with my work and goals.

When I get too fixated on the future, I am blind to the present, and with it goes my happiness.

I know this, and I'm working on it.

My aim for all of this is making my life as simple as possible.

So much of life is noise, yet what matters is signal.

Finding the signal is what we are all after, even if we don't realize it.

I've found that the more stuff in your physical and mental environments, the harder it is to find the signal and to stick with the signal.

So I'm pruning as much as I can.

I am removing things from my to-do list. If it's important enough, it will come up again, so I delete with impunity.

I've been donating things, selling things, and trashing things.

It feels so good to eliminate and simplify.

Simple is one of the most powerful and underrated concepts in life.

A case in point is when I decided I'd had enough of my sock drawer—mismatched colors, sizes, and styles, and it always seemed like I had to hunt to find a matching pair.

So I decided to simplify: I choose one pair and I got rid of the rest.

What a satisfying feeling every time I open this drawer. My sock situation is figured out FOREVER. I love it.

Just writing about it brings me satisfaction, peace of mind, and a bit of happiness. I feel like I've conquered my sock drawer.

I swear: none of this is hyperbole.

This is a big deal in more ways than one. If you don't believe me, try it yourself. Then give your simplified sock program a month and you'll feel as great about it as I do.

Every time I open my sock drawer, I get a whiff of accomplishment, even happiness—you could call it peace. This is such a profound concept that you cannot understand until you experience it. There's a kind of beauty into opening a sock drawer and knowing exactly what you are going to get every single time.

So that's it for this longer than usual newsletter.

What things in your life can you remove, reduce, delegate, or delete?

Then with that empty space, what else could you do?

Maybe you'll see things you didn't see before.

Perhaps you'll have a breakthrough because your mind now has space to be creative.

Who knows?