Adding By Subtracting
Life seems to have a funny equation about it.
People are daily searching to find that one thing that will make them feel happy and fulfilled. They add new clothes to their wardrobe, new furniture and gadgets in their home, a new show on Netflix in their routine, or take another drink to fill the void. And in the end, we usually end up right back where we started, confused and wanting to add more to our life.
After my father received a diagnosis of cancer, I honestly believed my life was over (spoiler alert..it was not). However, I would soon embark on several months of self-doubt and resentment towards the world. I could not imagine having Easter without him, Christmas without him, my birthday without him, and one-day having children without him there to meet them. (The good news is, he made it and beat all odds…but, I guess that is a story for another time.)
Anyways, through all of this “soul searching” I encountered, I would consistently find myself questioning what the meaning of life is and what true happiness comes from. What makes someone feel fulfilled? I felt like I had everything going for me, but I was still unable to find peace in the day-to-day hustle and bustle of life.
Overwhelmed is one word you could use to describe my feelings.
I was overworking myself, and I was spread too thin. I thought to be successful I had to work as hard as I could, as much as I could, and as long as I could, dividing myself into too many directions.
When my husband and I started to attend Real Estate conferences, there was always a segment taught on “how to prioritize your time” or “how to be efficient in your day-to-day life by labeling your tasks as urgent, important, and sometime in the future.”
Examining our daily lives, we were searching to find areas we were “juggling.” I am sure you can relate to the Juggling metaphor here. We are all constantly juggling our family, work, and societies pressures “to always do more” and always say “yes.”
The best-selling author of ‘Moneyball” says in a recent article on inc.com “In a world of never-ending “hustle” and “side projects” it’s important to remember that spreading yourself too thin can be a bad thing. We shouldn’t be proud of being constantly busy. We could even take comfort that it’s okay to be lazy”.
Finally, after a point of constant exhaustion and feelings of continually being overwhelmed, I decided to open up my life and see how to let some things go. I was at a point where I needed to re-structure my priorities and set them in their proper order.
This concept of “add by subtracting” had officially been introduced.
The idea behind it is to take activities/tasks you do daily and question the reasoning behind them. If it doesn’t lead to the ultimate goal you are working towards, you simply delete it from your life.
I started asking myself if what I was doing was absolutely necessary. Will it take me where I want to go? If the answer is no, then I DON’T “NEED” DO IT. If a task is not leading me to my ultimate goal, I need to throw it out. Eliminate it…Do Not Do It…
This was a difficult thing to do, as I felt that every little thing HAD to be completed, and done in THAT specific moment.
Fast forward a little bit…Now, if I’m asked to volunteer somewhere or complete a work task, I first have to look and see if it is leading me to the daily freedom I am searching for. If the answer is NO, then I take it out of my schedule or politely decline the offer.
Don’t get me wrong, I still find myself saying “yes” to things that are ultimately going against my end goal, but it’s a learning process, and it takes time and commitment to review your activities daily and analyze the areas or things you could have “subtracted” out from your day. I also want to challenge you that you can add to your life by subtracting the objects you hold on to. I explore this more on my blog about minimizing.
The best way I have found to begin this process of adding by subtracting is to:
1st: DECIDE on what your life philosophy is by writing down your values and goals on paper.
Remember to include goals that are cover the topics of your Faith, Family & Friends, Finances, and Fitness.
2nd: Now that you have your goals/philosophy of how you want to live, make a list of all the tasks you do throughout the
3rd: Determine if the task is positively affecting your life goal, or negatively affecting your ability to achieve your goal. Also
look to see if the task is necessary for you to do to have a successful day.
4th: Take the negative or unnecessary tasks and SUBTRACT THEM. ELIMINATE THEM.
5th: Do the tasks that help get you to where you want to be!
This process was tough for me because I had to figure out what I wanted in life…and to be honest…it was very, very hard. (Hence, this blog was born as a way for me to express my thoughts and keep track of what I am learning in life.)
I now believe we can do anything we want in this life, but we can’t do everything at one time. Our activities must be in harmony with our philosophies, values, and goals.
So…back to the “5 fundamentals of living a fun and fulfilled life”? Are they staying in balance?
I have found there isn’t one life-hack or one killer app that solves this struggle of keeping balance, but instead working daily on trying to improve it does help. Juggling your attention from one area to another is usually constant in life, and unfortunately, this challenge may never be solved entirely.
Problem: the pressure may always be there.
Solution: try to daily lead an intentional, well-balanced life in line with your direction and dropping everything else.
What is it that you can subtract tomorrow to start making your life more balanced?