Do you feel like the walls are closing in and the calendar is screaming at you most days? We know the feeling. Much of the pressure in our lives is a product of choices that we make: the obligations we take on, the stuff we buy, the priorities we set. If you’re ready to shake off the excess and travel light, try these suggestions.
1. Shed Some Stuff. Owning things isn’t bad, but we have to be honest about the fact that the more we own, the more we’re required to maintain. Maybe the 4 bedroom house with a pool is tough to clean and expensive to heat and cool. Downsizing is an option. Maybe the import car that must be serviced out of town is really impractical. Trading cars may be the answer. Maybe the boat costs more to keep than you expected. Perhaps it’s time to sell it. At some point, the cost of ownership is too much, and you’d be happier with less stuff.
2. Take a Long Look at the Calendar. A great deal of the pressure modern families feel each day is a product of over-commitment. If your family’s calendar looks like a New York train schedule, it’s time to prioritize based upon your core values and family goals and lose the things that don’t directly help you meet those goals. If spiritual growth is a major family value, then church activities would rise to the top of the scheduling priority. If the kids’ extracurricular activities are important, it may be a matter of determining which ones have a real long-term value and being more selective. Social events may be low on the list during this busy season of life, and need to fall off the calendar some weeks. Be ruthless. Just because something is good doesn’t mean it’s the best use of your time right now.
3. Learn to Say No. We know your type: you’re a doer. And your reward for being so productive is that people constantly ask you to chair a committee or help plan the school event. This is another one of those areas where your core values need to drive the prioritization, and realism about your limitations needs to set the boundaries. You can’t do it all—and if you try, you probably won’t do it all well. Choose your volunteer commitments carefully, and do a great job, with joy, on fewer things.
4. Clear the clutter. Once you’ve trimmed down your calendar, you can up your sanity level even more by cleaning out and organizing your home. A clean closet lets you see the clothing you’re actually going to wear, and well-organized kitchen cabinets make meal prep and clean-up easier. Dump some junk you never use and edit your household items to make the everyday tasks simpler.
5. Do a career audit. Most career advisors encourage a routine assessment of your professional situation and how well it lines up with your personal desires and goals. Take a long, hard look at your job and what it really contributes to your life. If the long commute is cutting into valuable family time, maybe it’s time to explore telecommuting. If your sales job requires relentless travel, maybe it’s time to be on the lookout for a position with a smaller territory. We realize it’s a tight job market these days, but identifying what you truly want will make you ready to act when the opportunity does come along.
6. Clean up your finances. Few things can relieve your stress and restore your joy like getting a grip on your money. Sure, it takes a little effort at first to get organized and disciplined--but the pay-off (pardon the pun) is huge. So download some money management software and straighten out the budget. You’ll be glad you did.
7. Unplug. Whether you realize it or not, your media consumption creates a lot of “noise” in your brain. When we’re constantly awash with information and advertising, it becomes harder to organize our thoughts and priorities and focus on what matters. Spend less time plugged into the digital world, and more time plugged into the real one.
8. Get back to basics. Build some time in your life for slowing down: taking a walk after dinner, doodling in a flower bed, or doing something simple and soothing with your hands (try knitting!). It’s good for the soul and brings our stress levels down—no power cord required!
Copyright 2012 iMOM. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission. For more resources for moms, visit iMOM.com.