A few months ago, I read a fascinating post from Courtney over at Be More with Less. As she was reflecting on her life at that moment, she realized that the small changes she wanted to make tended to fall into one of three categories: none, less, and more.
I love the idea of slow, small changes — I think these are sustainable and often snowball into the big changes we want to see in our lives. In the same way, I think bad habits have a way of snowballing out of control as well. The process of creating this list helped me identify where I need to put a stop to some unhealthy habits, what I need to moderate more, and what will be most important to amplify in the coming season.
I Need None . . .
This category is for those things you struggle to moderate in your life, making it better for you to abstain from them completely. Courtney’s example was Thin Mints, because she can’t stop at just one or two, so she avoids them altogether. These are a few things I need none of in my life right now.
Alcohol: This one is obvious. Not a drop.
Social media within 30 minutes of bedtime: It’s a fact that we don’t sleep as well when we check our phones right before we go to bed . . . and yet I do this almost every night. Also, I’ve been sleeping terribly lately. Connection? Probably. Time to stop.
Impulse purchasing: I’m actually pretty good about this one, but this is a much bigger temptation for me lately. I think Target knows when you’re going through a major life transition (new place, new job, new child) and all the objects get a little shinier. I’m continuing my impulse-purchase fast.
I Need Less . . .
This column is for the things that you’re able to moderate, but you’d be better off with less of these in your life. I need a little less of:
Popcorn: Especially the prepopped, olive-oil variety from Trader Joe’s. Because once I open the bag, I annihilate it in about one sitting. I don’t think popcorn is the worst indulgence out there, so I’m letting it be a little pregnancy treat every now and then.
Worry: I find something new to worry about (and sometimes two newbies) pretty much every day. The fear zaps my joy in this precious season, and I’m done with it. I’m surrendering to God and learning to trust the wisdom of my health care providers.
Movement: I’m talking about big life changes and emotional movements. I started a new job less than a year ago, my husband and I bought and moved into a new house in May, and we’re expecting our first baby in November. I need to find and soak up every bit of quiet and rest I can before then. That’s not to say I’ll stop exercise movement or stop moving myself to work every day; I just need to limit unnecessary movement and change for a while.
Negativity: I’m beginning to learn the differences between negativity and pessimism, and positivity and optimism. I’m a pessimist by nature, and I’m not sure that this fact will ever change, but I don’t have be negative by nature. I’m reigning in my negative self-talk and embracing my new body, withholding my negative perceptions of others and asking about what’s really going on, and changing my negative mindset about yard work into a positive way to take care of my house (and this is the most difficult of the three).
I Need More . . .
According to Courtney, the purpose of cutting out or cutting down the things above, which don’t contribute positively to your life, health, energy, relationships, work, etc. “is to make time and space for everything that does.” Here are the things I need in larger doses.
Writing and reading: There never seems to be enough time for my two favorite activities, but I’m committed to creating more space for these. They fill me up more than almost anything else, and definitely more than Netflix or cleaning.
Healthy food: I’ve let too much sugar sneak back into my diet in the form of tortilla chips, weekend donut runs, and granola each morning. I’m replacing these with healthy alternatives more often, because sugar is more addictive than cocaine, and it will kill you. Think I’m being dramatic? Watch this.
Time outdoors: It’s summer. I’m taking my book, my laptop, and myself outside to enjoy the sunshine.
Relaxation: In the form of reading and lounging in the sunshine, mostly. I need to stop puttering around on my phone and wandering around the house, and just sit myself down for some intentional quiet time.
Hope: This is replacing “worry” above. Hope for the best. Hope in the heartache. Hope in the everyday.
Dependence and humility: I hate asking for help; I’d rather exhaust myself than have others put themselves out for me. But moving while pregnant forced me to get over myself, acknowledge my own limits, and ask for help. We need other people. We need the Lord. All we have to do is ask.
People: I’ve really struggled to connect well with my friends over the last few months in the busyness of moving, and I want to do a better job of being available and willing to set aside my work, and be more thoughtful with invitations.
Like many of the simplicity ideas I share, this is meant to be a tool and not a rule. It can change over time with the seasons of your life — week by week or decade by decade. The important piece is to reflect carefully on your life and make concrete, positive changes as a result.