I hate those days when I think to myself, “I’m wasting my life.”
I’m not doing enough, I’m not making enough, I’m not giving enough.
I want more.
More fun, more money, more experiences.
I want more.
Seems like everyone wants to live rich, fulfilling lives full of cool stuff, friends, interesting experiences, travel, food, achievements, and well …
What is it that makes us want more anyway?
I guess it’s our natural tendency to grow, to be productive and useful.
No one wants to get to the end of their lives and feel like it’s all been a waste.
No one wants to get to the end of their life and utter those four little words:
If only I had …
If I only had taken more risks, made a difference, loved more, made great art, tapped into my creativity, learned more, given more, enjoyed more sunsets, travelled more, or crossed off more items from my bucket list.
What Matters Most
So I decided to do something about it.
Since time is the greatest wealth, I’ve found the best way to focus my time is to start my day with two quick questions.
As soon as I wake up, I get out my notepad and jot down answers to these two questions:
1. “When this day is over and I’m getting ready to lay my head on the pillow, what would I have done today that would have made my day supremely successful and joyful?”
2. I fast forward in time and imagine myself living in a rest home and ask: “Having experienced what I know now, what advice would my 95 year old self give to my younger self today?”
Go ahead, ask yourself these questions and write down your answers.
Your answers will get you motivated and focused on what really matters most to you now.
Notice I used the word, “NOW.” I’ve found that what matters most is always changing.
You can use mindfulness training to focus your attention on what is in front of you right NOW because your perspectives, values and understandings are always changing.
One day after answering these questions, I discovered that my life was way too complicated. I realized that I had too many distractions preventing me from doing the things that mattered most.
So I created a plan to simplify my life. A plan that would free up more physical, mental and psychological space. I called it: Operation Simplicity.
Two months ago, my wife Amy and I rented out our house, sold 80% of our possessions, including my beloved spiritual book collection, and decided to go live at the beach.
Don’t worry … I didn’t get rid of my guitars or others items that spark joy.
We’ve decided that with less stuff to take care of there would be more time left over for the things that mattered most to us.
Less Stuff More Happiness
We noticed that our belongings held a certain inertia and energy that only served to hold us down.
We also realized that we were unconsciously addicted to distraction, consumption and diversions.
- Rather than go see more live music, we’d make our own music.
- Rather than go to more restaurants, we’d make our own meals.
- Rather than be distracted by the next festival, performance or event, we’d create our own performances and events.
We wanted more time to figure out who we are now and what values, strengths and motivations are driving us.
In short, we wanted to do things that mattered most to us.
- long walks on the beach
- time to reflect and be mindful
- time to make things.
It’s been over two months and we’ve never been happier. We feel freer, lighter and more at peace. Being near the ocean gives us a feeling of expansion and possibility.
Maybe it’s the ocean air, the vast open sky or the warm sand under our feet but somehow we find it easier to dream. We sleep better and have a greater sense of well-being. Even our personal relationship has improved.
It’s not all Rainbows and Waterfalls
Having the courage to be aware, honest, and truthful about what matters most takes guts.
We resonate with the saying: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” We’re always looking for new ways to push up against our comfort zones and growth edges.
It took a lot of soul-searching, planning, and action steps. Sometimes it can be stressful.
Our goal is location-independence. We want to be able to be free enough to be able to follow a wild hair.
We live mindfully and in the moment. We embrace the unexpected and spontaneous. We don’t always have to know what’s next. It’s more fun not to know.
“What do you think about Nicaragua for Christmas?” Amy asked me.
“Sounds good. Let’s go!” I said.
As my good friend, Leonardo da Vinci once said …
I hope you enjoy a day spent well that brings a happy sleep, and a life well spent that will bring you happy death.