Simplifying my life was the thing that saved me when I was at my lowest point, juggling small kids, a busy career and a million other things – every day, all day. I hadn’t realised how far I’d sunk until a melt-down at work jolted me back into reality and I started to take control of my life.
My melt-down and my search for a new and better life for our family led me to embrace a simpler, more intentional life. We began to say Yes! to things that added value to our life and No! to the things that distracted us from really living it.
When I look back on it, I think life had caught up on me without me even realising it. My days would be spent juggling my young children, managing the home and holding down my job.
I tried to do it all but had no space for anything else. I wasn’t enjoying my kids or getting any time for myself. One tiring day led into the next and then the next. It wasn’t what I’d expected my life to be like and I started to wonder if I was doing things wrong.
Everyone else seemed to manage it, why wasn’t I? And, if this was my life, why wasn’t I feeling better about it? Surely, motherhood wasn’t meant to be this tough?
Weekdays were difficult enough, but then came the weekends when my husband’s children (my step-kids) would visit and our small house would swell with even more children, noise, movement, toys and general stuff. Not great when you’re an introvert through and through and my natural craving would be for calm, quiet and peace!
I’d go into work on Monday morning like a zombie and probably stay like that all week too!
Even though I was carrying on (because that’s what you’re meant to do, right?), I soon found out I wasn’t actually Superwoman. It was impossible for me to give 100% to everything, all the time, without some kind of side effect.
It wasn’t until I reached the point of burn out that I realised I’d been carrying on, ignoring the warning signs and pretending to myself and everyone else that I was fine, when actually I was far from it.
Overwhelm had crept up on me and I finally admitted that the anger, irritability, tears, insomnia, lack of focus and concentration and generally feeling worn out and worn down were the precursor to my melt-down. I should have seen it coming long before.
But I didn’t. I had carried on regardless up until that point. Either I was too proud to admit I had a problem, too stubborn to ask for help, or I was in denial to myself that things were as bad as they were.
Whatever the reason, once I’d reached this point, I promised myself that things had to change and I was the only one able to make those changes. I owed it to myself and my family.
I knew things had to change when I thought about what was most important in my life. Was I spending my days focusing on these things or was I just rushing around living for bedtime when the kids were asleep and I could hear myself think for once?
I was pretty sure there was more to life than this, I’d just lost my way a little (or a lot). Does this sound familiar to you at all?
I identified trigger factors, times of the day, the week, things that would happen, situations that would make me feel extra-overwhelmed.
I realised that the times when I felt most stressed and overwhelmed was when I thought about all the stuff I had to do, the state of my home, being pulled in different directions, being tied to my To Do list when I just wanted to be with my kids or have some time for myself.
I read up on studies which showed that, putting it simply, too much stuff and clutter around you is directly related to increased stress levels. Therefore, by removing this stuff and clutter, stress levels would go down.
I looked at my life, all the different aspects of it and systematically worked through each and every one to ensure that I was prioritising the things that were most important to me and saying no to the rest.
I simplified my life and was intentional about what I let back into it. If something didn’t feel right, or it didn’t bring value to me, my family or our life, then I didn’t let it in!
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What happened was a gradual and general lifting of my spirits. I had time to think, time to play, time to be intentional with my day for the benefit of both my family and I. Anything that wasn’t aligned with my intention and didn’t sit right with me, I didn’t do. Or found a way around it without offending anyone.
It was a relief, an unburdening and a freedom that I’d never felt before.
I carved out extra time for me to do the things that I want to do, without compromising on the time and energy I can give to my family.
Your Intentional Life is a completely free 7-day email course that will make you look at your life differently. I’ll show you how to create a life that supports YOU so you can focus on your purpose, priorities and the things that are most important to you without clutter and distraction.