Everyone’s looking for the answer. The short cut. The “hack” that will let you achieve more, get more, be more, do more.
By doing less.
When you stand back and think about it, that makes no fucking sense.
The quick talking motivational and get-rich-quick crowd loves to say these things enthusiastically and manage to somehow make it sound reasonable – get everything you want by doing the minimum!
It’s a seductive message, because the lazy couch surfer in you wants to believe that it’s suckers who work hard or are too dumb to know the secrets. Work smart, not hard! That’ll bring the success and wealth you’re seeking.
The problem is, it’s much easier to acquire more shit than achieve something worthwhile. Consumerism and accumulation have become the default for filling our lives up — when we feel like we’re not measuring up or where we’re supposed to be at “this” point of our life.
Example: in my past experience of providing business coaching and consulting to a vast array of entrepreneurs and business owners, I became disenchanted by this dismal reality – many people confuse hiring a coach as the action that will bring them success. As in, “I’ve committed to a coach so I’ve taken action!”
Sadly, there are too many “coaches” who are happy to take on clients that make little progress but remain committed to the action of being coached.
And worse, pursuing achievement is often just about creating more busy-ness, and opportunities to acquire more shit. Scroll through your Facebook feed and take note of all the shitbags standing beside a Lamborghini or a yacht. They’re selling a program that promises the “shortcut” to the shit you think you really want.
The problem is, more shit isn’t the answer.
There’s a huge movement now around “minimalism” that argues we don’t need stuff. The less the better, and the measure of success becomes your ability to count how many possessions you have on your fingers and toes.
Your house is too big, you don’t need a car, and what the hell do you need 6 pairs of shoes for?
I had to laugh out loud when I saw a post from someone in a Facebook group dedicated to minimalists. She proudly declared that if her kid couldn’t walk to an activity or event, they couldn’t go or participate.
Talk about stepping over the dollars to pick up the dimes — keeping your kids from pursuing their passions and interests because you hold such a stupid, misguided principle so dear to your heart.
But here’s the bigger problem – having too much stuff and the idea of “getting rid of everything” is only a symptom of a deeper problem. The uncomfortable question is this — what if you become a minimalist, and you enthusiastically go down that road to purging your life of all but the most essential elements … but that pang of anxiety is still there?
Which, of course, is often the case.
You often see these posts in minimalism forums, where someone essentially admits they’re bailing on the idea because they realize their life is completely fucked and miserable. And the moment they show weakness, the rest of the forum zealots attack like hungry lions coming across a wounded gazelle.
I’m not saying that minimalism is a bad thing, and that it doesn’t work. Not at all. There’s definitely a place for optimizing what you actually have in your life. Getting rid of clutter and junk you don’t even want. But obsessively focusing on less and less doesn’t solve the core problem — because your ability to reduce is finite.
After getting rid of all your stuff to the point of pain, what if that place called “happiness” is still reluctant to throw open it’s arms and embrace you like a child who finally looked behind the couch to win the hide and seek contest?
To me, this is where a deeper answer and solution lays in waiting.
To me, generating happiness and joy in life isn’t about selling all your shit and buying the ugly cheaper fruit at the supermarket.
It’s about what really causes the gap between have and want, and building what a great life means to you.
If being a vagabond with no material possessions truly gives you happiness and joy, knock yourself out. Just be careful of taking on a mindset of lack, scarcity and “getting by” with the least you need.
You attract what you focus on, so don’t be surprised if a bunch of other parts of your life minimize themselves around you.