Simplify

My doctor told me last week that ‘change management’ is no longer the term du jour; it’s now called ‘managing ambiguity’. The theory goes that the rate of change is now so rapid and changes in our modern life are so frequent, that each kind of rolls into the next creating this maelstrom of ambiguity rather than clearly defined changes that we can manage through specific techniques.

It certainly rings true for my life this year. And it made me feel a little bit better about the level of overwhelm I’ve been feeling lately. Not overwhelm on a day-to-day level, but more on a birds-eye, information overload level. Life is just taking up a lot of my emotional energy and I don’t have a lot left for anyone else. It’s caused me to make even more changes in an attempt to really simplify things and preserve as much emotional energy as possible.

Firstly, I have taken a break from wellbeing coaching. I love it and I’m good at it and I know there is a strong need for it in the world. But it requires a level of physical and emotional energy to hold space for clients that I just don’t have right now. I always want to show up for the people I’m working with and I can’t show up right now. That’s not a perfectionist, overachiever ‘I can’t give 150% so I won’t do it at all’ decision, either. It’s an ‘I’m struggling to even give 70%’ feeling and I know it’s the right decision for me right now.

Secondly, today I moved out of the office I’d been sharing at the local coworking space. I liked it there and I love my office buddies, but just being there at the moment was taking up too much mental and emotional energy. I was finding it difficult to concentrate on all but the most mindless of admin tasks, and with the amount of writing work I’ve been getting recently, I needed all my mental energy just to get those tasks done. While I enjoyed being in the space, I just feel the need to be at home in my own space with no other human drains on my energy while I’m working.

It’s an interesting feeling. I realise all this talk of energy might sound a little woo-woo. It’s the only way I can describe it. My bandwidth for interpersonal interactions at the moment is just really narrow and I can’t explain why. The important thing I’ve realised is that I don’t need to explain why. This is just what I need at the moment. So I’m listening to my body’s signals and going with it.

The third way I’m dealing with this ambiguity is to get really boring and repetitive with a number of aspects of my life so as to avoid decision fatigue. I already had a bit of an unofficial uniform but I’ve been wearing the same 4 – 5 outfits on high repeat lately. I’m getting back into eating really habitually. Unless Stuart cooks, I’m eating the same plain few meals over and over. Chicken and veg, pork and veg, boiled eggs, green smoothies, strawberries and yoghurt. Repeat. As little thinking as possible at the grocery story or in the kitchen.

I’m going to yoga more instead of the gym or even going jogging on my own. When I’m at yoga, not only am I getting meditation moments which means I don’t have to add meditation in as another thing on the to-do list at home, but I also get to just follow the instructions and not think. I like jogging and I like going to the gym, but they both take mental energy I don’t have right now in that I have to be self-directed. I want to move my body, but in a way that doesn’t require mental energy. So I just turn up, do what I’m told and allow my body to receive the beautiful stretching it so enjoys.

I’m reading more formulaic romance novels than usual. I have always had a few laying around but I’m churning through them at a very fast rate lately. It’s an escape for my mind and I don’t have to think too hard. There’s very little suspense or anxiety about the outcome of the plot.

I’ve also taken huge steps to disconnect from social media. This is probably the most drastic change. The more Facebook has been something I’ve had to use for ‘work’, the less I’ve felt like using it. Also, the more time away from it I have, the more I can look at some of the content that comes through my feed and see that my reading it does nothing but upset me, changes nothing for the better in the world and my not reading it also makes little difference to the causes I follow but has a huge benefit for my mental health overall. So, I’ve unfollowed and in some cases unliked a bunch of people—in particular some activists whose work I really admire but is in areas that are generally depressing to think about, e.g. domestic violence, disability rights, LGBTI, refugees—and anyone that triggers me.

I’ve also removed my phone from the bedroom and that led to me being much more aware of and intentional about using it when Stuart is around too. All in all I’ve broken the huge need for it to be with me all the time and I just feel far less urgency about the online world altogether. I’m just letting those little red numbers increase as the notifications add up, and I’m freaking loving it. I know there’s a bit of Obliger Rebellion in there but I don’t care! It feels GOOD and that is reason enough.

I’m also working on outsourcing what I can in my life, too, where finances allow. I’m investing in some software to help me with the transcribing work I’m doing, I’m getting a VA to help with some menial online admin tasks and I’m going to outsource my websites as soon as I can. I’m also going to get a cleaner at home as soon as I can, and get my eyebrows done more often too. It might sound strange, but my thinking about making the effort to pluck my own eyebrows right now is just too much. I just feel a strong need to take some things off my plate to free up space for the more important stuff. And I know that having groomed eyebrows is hardly a massively important, life-or-death kind of thing, but they’re a priority for me right now because it takes up mental energy so I might as well get them taken care of and remove those thoughts from my brain.

My laptop is getting fairly old and slow at the moment, and in many ways my brain feels like that too. The software and programming was built for a different time. I can keep up with the demands of the modern world, but the rainbow wheel of death is popping up more and more often, forcing me to shut down and reset a couple of times a day now. I can keep working but I just can’t do everything the world tells me I should be able to do because the operating system just can’t keep up. With the laptop, I know an upgrade is in order sometime this year. With my body and brain and life, I’m fast realizing that in fact the upgrade is in not listening to the messaging of the world telling me to keep up and let life become ever more complex. In fact, the antidote is to become more and more focused on simplicity.

How about you? Where can you detach, unfollow, disconnect and simplify in your life?

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