Pushing to the limits, constantly in motion, always thinking of the next task… That was what my life was like before chronic illness. Now I need to simplify!
Chronic illness has set extreme limitations for me, as I’m sure it does for many of you out there, and I’ve found that these limitations have led to additional stress and guilt about not being able to do all the things I used to do beforehand.
Since managing to increase my energy levels enough to participate in life in some small way, I have begun looking for ways to live within my limits and manage my symptoms. I’ve shared some of my experiments and techniques with you already but today I want to talk about the overarching principle which is currently guiding my decision process.
Keep it Simple!
There are several steps that need to be worked through when you’re simplifying your life. I’m still in the very early stages but would like to share some of what I’ve learnt already, what I’m currently doing and what I’m hoping to do in the future.
- Identify clear priorities. By clarifying for yourself what your priorities are it is easier to eliminate tasks, items, and activities that do not work towards your priorities. As part of this process it’s useful to make yourself a set of guidelines to assist with the next step.
- Eliminate the unnecessary. This applies to stressful situations, people, events, items you don’t actually need or use around the house, and activities that aren’t helping you get to your priorities.
- Set a flexible routine. Having things that happen regularly means that there are less choices that need to be made, simplifying day to day life. However, it’s important to be able to change plans when necessary so make sure your routine is flexible.
- Be true to yourself. The priorities and guidelines you’ve identified should guide all future actions. For example, I’ve made a decision that unless it’s absolutely necessary I’m not purchasing new items any more. So every time I decide I want to get something I stop and ask myself ‘Do I actually need this?’ If the answer is No, I don’t buy it.
- Reassess and Repeat. This is not a once of activity. Set a regular time to reassess your priorities and repeat the elimination step regularly to make sure you don’t start complicating things again.
What I’ve done so far
I’ve shared with you the process I’ve gone through to identify what I’m passionate about and have set myself priorities based on the outcomes of that.
My priorities (in no particular order) are:
- Family and Friends
- Continual Learning
Each day I identify something I can do to work towards goals that fit my priorities. I make sure I do at least one thing towards each of these goals.
For example, today I’ve helped a friend out with a work issue (Family and Friends), done my yoga and exercise physiologist prescribed exercises (Health), did my morning meditation practice and have been mindful of my thoughts while completing my activities (Mindfulness), I have remained focus on single tasks at a time/no multitasking (Simplify), completed my weekly work for uni (Continual Learning), and set up access for two of my contributing bloggers forLiveKen (Work).
I have begun decluttering. I am slowly working my way through the house identifying items we never use or haven’t used in the last 6-12 months. These items are being offered to family and friends, donated to charity, or (only if broken and not fixable) thrown out.
I’ve scheduled daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, half-yearly and yearly reflect and review times. Tomorrow is my first annual review. I will be spending the day identifying my commitments, priorities and targets for the next 12 months.
I’m reading several books and other blogs (my favourite at the moment is Zen Habits) to help guide me and inspire me as I move forward on this journey.
Even though I haven’t got very far yet, it already feels like a weight has been lifted off me. As I reduce the clutter in the house it becomes easier to maintain a tidy area (I still can’t do a lot of household chores and have cleaners come in fortnightly to do the more difficult items such as cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming and mopping).
I look forward to sharing this journey with you as I find more and more ways to live a simplified, mindful, fulfilling life with all my chronic illnesses.
Have you taken any steps to simplify your life?
What have you found works for you?