I moved to a different space not too long ago. I took this opportunity to take an inventory of the various things I owned to figure out what I truly needed. I’d do a purge every quarter, irrespective of the move. Anyway, I took stock by classifying things I had into three buckets: using right now, using later, and not using ever again (because I hadn’t used them in the recent past and they weren’t seasonal).
Everything I was using right now was out and accessible because I was using those things every day. If I wasn’t using something now, I would question myself if I’d be using it later or never. There were things I wasn’t using right now because I had extra supplies on hand, but would need later, so I put it away for later use. There were also a handful of things I found that had sentimental value for me, so I held onto them. Finally, there were some things I hadn’t used in the past few months, so I decided to give them away.
The process I used was Explore, Evaluate, Execute. I took inventory of things by exploration. I evaluated what I needed and didn’t based on my personal criteria of what I was actually using from what I wasn’t, then I decided what to keep and what to give away.
Going through this process was an exercise in intention for me. It reminded me how little I needed on a daily basis to get by with. As a result of this process, I ensured that I was using every single thing that was out and accessible. If it wasn’t adding any value to my life, it would be gone.
This helped me live with the enough mentality. However, this wasn’t an exercise in “minimalism” or an “ism” per se. I say that because I wanted everything I needed and nothing I didn’t. For instance, I noticed the new space lacked a few things I needed, so I went out and shopped for those things. Because I was being mindful of what I was using, by extension, I was also being mindful of my footprint on the planet, our only Home.
Suffice it to say, this experience reaffirmed in me how I’ve found contentment in living with enough, which I never did when I was continuously vying for things (in a former life). Besides, I’ve long come to learn, it’s not the one who has the most, who is the richest, but one who needs the least, but I digress.
I shared my story of purging physical things quarterly, but what if we actually applied this idea to our lives by way of taking stock of our commitments? We could look at the various projects in our lives (both personal and work) and classify them as follows (let’s say):
- what am I committed to right now?
- what might I commit to later?
- what am I okay with not doing anymore (that I said I’d do at one point)?
We could manage our current agreements in a trusted system. We could choose to renegotiate with some of our existing commitments and decide to put them on the back-burner for later. Finally, we’d be okay in parting with things that we said we wanted to do at one point, but which no longer mapped to our reality in some way.
We would be much clearer in our heads as a result of this process and we’d be able to be in the present and experience each moment without thinking about what we weren’t doing. Because we will know what we have said yes to, we can say no to almost everything else that comes our way.
Just like we can find contentment in living with enough, we can find the same when we use our limited time and attention to doing a few things well. Not only will we be able to be (and do) our best, but more importantly, we’ll be able to sustain it, because we are starting out the way we intend to carry on. This way, we’ll be able to accomplish more by doing less (but consistently). Then, there will be no stress or burnout.
We don’t have to wait for December to do an “annual review” of sorts. We can review our lives every quarter to ensure we weren’t leaving things to chance or reacting or simply being driven by the external, but rather, we are the ones, who are proactively living our lives and ergo, staying on top of our commitments. By living this way, we can give our complete attention to doing a few things well by design versus doing many things averagely by default and leaving ourselves drained from the experience. While both approaches require the same effort, it’s always our choice, but we can choose wisely. And, we must.
Going through this quarterly process has reminded me how it’s important to not only hug the trees, but also look at the forest once in a while.