Less Is More: My 2018 'Un-Plan'

Happy New Year! Now, freak out and panic. That’s what my brain has traditionally done as soon as a fresh January rolls around. I’m a compulsive planner and goal setter, and my enthusiasm to deepen my involvement in all of my much-loved hobbies and interests can often translate to biting off more than I can chew. Now, in my defence, there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of planning – in fact, like any functioning control freak, I am a huge advocate for creating a bit of structure and routine in order to thrive. Similarly, I think the process of creating realistic goals (key word: realistic!) and gradually working towards milestones is a recipe for a rich and fulfilling life. However, this year I’m a little wary of the trap of New Year’s resolutions. I don’t like the way that even the best intentions can become fodder with which to beat ourselves over the head and tell ourselves that we’ve failed. For example: last year I set myself a number of goals relating to technical proficiency as a drummer and percussionist. I wrote these goals down at the beginning of the year, and displayed them in a prominent place on the wall right above the drums, so that I’d see them every time I walked into my practice space. In December I looked up at the sheet and realised I had accomplished very few of the goals I’d set for myself. I was disappointed and chided myself for having been so slack, until I took a moment to realise what else I’d been up to over those twelve months. I moved cities, established a busy freelance portfolio as a contract arts manager and worked on nearly all of Melbourne’s major arts festivals. I got engaged to an incredible human, and took the time to travel to my home town to visit a sick family member who passed away not long after. I travelled to Sydney and New Zealand for further yoga training, stayed in an ashram for the first time, played a lot of music and taught and practiced a lot of yoga. I applied for a Masters program and was accepted to commence studies this year. Looking at the big picture, my life over the past year has been varied, interesting and full of lessons. Gazing again at the sheet of unfulfilled goals on my wall, I chose to celebrate the unplanned learnings rather than criticize myself for the boxes I didn’t tick.  However, in retrospect it has become apparent that if I didn’t over-fill my life with so many activities, it would most likely become easier to focus and really hone in on my most important priorities.

So, having established that it’s okay to loosen the reins a little bit on goal setting, does this mean that I’m going resolution-less in 2018? Of course not! I’m the kind of gal who always has something on the back burner (I often joke that I’m a full time side hustler) and I have lots of ideas simmering away for things I’d like to accomplish this year.  But my approach to planning is decidedly different nowadays.  In addition to giving myself permission to ‘fail’ at any goals I choose to set for myself, I’m turning my focus to simplifying my life. This is easy to say out loud, but much more difficult to actually do! What I mean by ‘simplifying’ is that I’ll be taking a good hard look at everything I choose to commit time to, and if it doesn’t directly complement my core values, then I’ll think twice before adding it to my plate. After all, how we choose to spend our time is a massive reflection of what’s really important to us. I have a bad habit of over-filling my days – like many multi-passionate people I genuinely love everything I do in a day, from teaching a 6.00am yoga class, to working 9 to 5 on some event, and then heading to an evening rehearsal or band practice to prep for an upcoming gig. A schedule like this reflects my passion and enthusiasm for my work, my teaching and my music. However, I can see a distinct lack of value being attributed to ‘down time’, leisure, or ‘empty’ time such as meditation where I could allow my mind to be still and recalibrate. Therefore, one of my biggest intentions for the year to come is simply to do less – I’ll let you know how I go!

In addition to the overarching theme of ‘Less Is More’, I’m also going to be working on the following concepts to help me get back to basics:

Put Down The Phone

Remaining present is more difficult than it has ever been before, because we live in a world that rewards us for multi-tasking (read: we are actively encouraged towards distraction). Like millions of others on the planet I often pick up my phone, scroll through it mindlessly and over-stimulate my mind with completely unnecessary content. Towards the end of last year I began to limit my use of my phone to after breakfast and before dinner – this year I’ll be aiming to isolate my social media use to two ‘sessions’ per day. 

Go Outdoors More

This one speaks for itself – we all feel more centred, calm, and content when we’ve spent time outdoors walking, hiking, swimming, cycling or just lying under a tree. I’m bringing some friends along for the ride and starting a little social hiking club – the plan is to get out of the CBD once a month for a big walk and some good old fashioned tree hugging.

Don’t Go To Work

This one sounds so impractical, particularly with the financial constraints we all face. But since I’m going to be studying this year, I’ll be actively monitoring the amount of paid work I take on and trying to limit it so that I can really focus on my studies. (Hint: I feel this is going to be the toughest one for me. I am a weirdo who LOVES WORKING.)

Less Netflix, More Chill

Yes, the content options are endless and it’s a great way to turn your brain off and zone out. But how many hours a week are you actually watching the box? I’m guilty as charged – I often find myself staring into the Netflixy abyss until way past my bedtime. Instead I’m going to focus on reading in my spare time. My local library is full of great titles, yours probably is too.

 

Overall, this year I think I’m just aiming for what many of us seek: balance.

Wishing you all a very happy and healthy 2018 – go and get it, you’ve got this!