My goal for 2020 is to live a lighter life.
What’s driving this desire?
It all feels like it’s going too fast for me and I want to slow down and savor more moments.
Like more Friday night living room dancing dates with my kids while they’re still interested. And more kitchen creation moments so that they’re comfortable nourishing themselves with more than fast food later on in life.
I want to experience these moments fully present. I don’t want my mind to be elsewhere, to be thinking about what else I have to get done before the end of the day.
When my oldest was a toddler I would read to him as he drifted off to sleep. I remember using this time to also think about what had happened at work that day. My mind was in one place, while my body was in another, doing just enough so that no one would be the wiser. I thought I was quite talented doing multiple things—snuggling and reading out loud while thinking about something completely different, all at once. I felt as if I were tricking time. I now realize and am saddened by the wasted opportunity of me being only partway there.
When I left the corporate world and became an entrepreneur—it brought its own heaviness. Each day I wake up knowing that I’m going to fail as I shoot for the moon so I can land among the stars. After each failure, I pick myself up quickly, but I notice that I spend much more time thinking about the lows than relishing the highs. And there are so many highs to be celebrated (!) but I tend to quickly move past those.
So this year I’m going to do more celebrating. In fact, I’m going to find something to celebrate every single day—and it shouldn’t be hard as long as I’m present. Moments I’ll applaud: getting enough sleep, a delicious and nutrient-dense meal, a laugh with a child, a hug with my husband, a client’s delight at releasing some extra pounds, an organized house, a chapter written of a book I yearn to write, the opportunities are endless.
The more celebrations mean the more present and happier I am, and the lighter my life.
Interested in living a lighter life yourself? Here are three steps that’ll help you do so:
1. Create white space
If your life feels overloaded, if you’re running from obligation to obligation, with no time for thinking, it’s time to stop doing and start being.
This intentional margin of time is called white space and it’s the quiet stillness between all the busyness and chaos. This magical space will allow you to understand what’s important to you. It’ll help you decide how you want to show up, and how to have a lighter body and life.
So get intentional and seek out this empty space on a daily basis. Use this time to ask yourself how you want to eat, love, move, sleep and spend your minutes and money. These are the specific components that directly affect our mental, emotional and physical health.
How do I create my white space? I wake up before anyone else in my family. Instead of picking up my phone, I pick up the kettle and put it on the stove. While it heats up I sit on the couch with no agenda, close my eyes, take in some long deep breaths and just be. New beginnings always unfold when I take the time to listen.
2. Focus on your ‘yes’ and go all in
If you feel like you’re constantly multi-tasking, and that everything is a priority, it’s time to focus on your ‘yes’ and go all in.
This ‘yes,’ is the root of living a lighter life. It’ll require a new approach, which will take effort. Do you think you can do 1% better every day? Because that’s all it takes. Even at 1%, change can appear hard. Fortunately when you know your ‘why’ lifestyle edits are easier to make. So focus on what you’re gaining and how it’ll feel to live more fully into your potential.
Your brain will try to trick you into believing that an immediate dopamine hit (from clutter like sugar, shopping, and gossiping) is worth deviating from your greater vision. So stay focused on what you’re saying yes to…you’re saying yes to what matters most to you.
How do I focus on my ‘yes’ and go all in? Right now I’m prioritizing my personal health. I know that if I feel good, I’ll have the energy and clarity needed for my business and relationships to thrive. What’s not making the cut? Refined sugar and extra screen time. Change is dramatically easier when I’m crystal clear on what I want.
3. Embrace the ‘less is more’ mentality
A lighter life is not built on self-deprivation. When we believe we’ll be deprived in the short term we won’t be successful in the long run.
So how do you embrace a ‘Less is More’ mentality? See the more in less, the less…but better, and remove the distractions that are blocking your potential. Mental and emotional clutter like compulsive people-pleasing, chronic comparisons, and hurt feelings. Physical clutter like impulse purchasing and too much alcohol and foods that leave you disappointed with yourself, that have a massive ingredient list, loads of sugar, and tons of chemicals.
Weeding out these distractions will open up and enhance your life immensely.
How do I embrace the ‘less is more’ mentality? I spent decades thinking that more was more, so this is a work in progress for me. But today I choose quality over quantity. I took out alcohol, grains and self-created drama which has me feeling an unexpected abundance of wellbeing. I’m vastly expanding my life by living with intention and purpose.
In 2020, I’m removing the clutter—mental, emotional and physical, that weighs me down so that I can rise up in a lighter and happier way.
About the Author: Heather Aardema is a National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach living in Colorado with her husband and two grade-school boys. You can find more of her essays focused on growing healthy and living fully at RootofWellbeing.com.