When less is more

When less is more

One misconception that’s blocked me over the years is the idea that to be fulfilled you must add more to your plate. So in my pursuit to be a better career woman, stronger mother and more faithful person I took on more obligations. I chaired the largest family fundraiser for the PTO. Joined the parish picnic committee. Pursued increasing responsibility at work. The list goes on….

I fell captive to the praise of others at my amazing ability to “do it all” and success revolved around the sweet satisfaction of checking off my to-do list.

  • Finished Powerpoint deck – check
  • Scheduled committee meeting – check
  • Made dinner for the family – check
  • Asked my husband how his day was – check

I let these roles and responsibilities define me because I didn’t know what else I had to offer. On the outside I awkwardly beamed at the accolades but inside I felt depleted, insecure and unfulfilled. When you’re so busy filling voids, you find yourself going through the motions but not appreciating the memories in the making. At the end of the day, it’s those micro-moments that live in our hearts. They can sustain us or haunt us.

we do not remembe

My mind subjected me to the constant chatter of negativity. No amount of activeness can quiet your inner voice when you’re not living in your truth.

Over coffee several years ago, a BFF wisely pointed out that in order to live with meaning you must remove activities, not add, focusing on the things that matter. When I took pen to paper my list was pretty simple:

  • Family
  • Faith
  • Friends
  • Fitness

Okay, I like F words. What would Freud say?

Following Gretchen Rubin’s guidelines in the Happiness Project planner, my BFF and I wrote an action plan, crafting our own unique interpretation while being very clear, concise and realistic in our action steps. Otherwise it would just be words on paper. Thought starters include: My Twelve Commandments, a mission statement, mottos and role models. The exercise might seem tedious but it’s actually quite revealing.

For instance, my career didn’t make the top 3. Surprising and telling given my history of striving for corporate growth. That one bummed my husband out {insert impending college tuitions}. Exploring meaning in your work life sounds like another blog post for another day.

One benefit of working with a partner is that you can hold each other accountable. Before the ink even dried, I decided to change my work schedule, enabling me to find balance in my 4 key areas. While my friend gave me the courage, it was my husband who gave me the confidence I needed to make such a drastic change in my life. I love him even more for that. It was without-a-doubt the best decision I could have made for my personal wellbeing and the support of my children during the tumultuous middle and high school years.

We live in such a unique time where technology and interconnection give us immediate access to information and relationships. The opportunities for creativity and enterprise are endless and hugely appealing for highly ambitious and energetic individuals. But I can’t help but wonder…in the pursuit of happiness how do you balance productivity with time to slow down and relish the ordinary moments that make life extraordinary?

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