Hi there. Welcome back to the show. I’m your host Miranda Anderson. You’re listening to Episode 111 of Live Free Creative Podcast.
Today’s episode is all about our circle of control, and I’m going to break down and tell you about three specific areas of your life that you have full control over. Full choice over.
My invitation for you this episode is that you stop spending your time and energy and attention on all of the many areas that you cannot control, and that you try to refocus and hop back into the driver’s seat of your life and use your energy and attention and resources in the areas that you actually can make a positive impact.
So that’s what we’re going to talk about today. The audio that I’m sharing with you is from a webinar that I gave last week, a free class that I did online open to anyone on my newsletter list–and I shared about it on Instagram–about our circle of control.
And I did this free class–I do a free class every once in a while as sort of an introduction to my teaching style and to share information that I think will be really valuable for people. And usually as a kickoff for a launch to another program that I’m doing as well, which I just began the last session of Live Free From Clutter for this year.
And I am so excited about it. It feels like such a good time after all the craziness and sort of still in the middle of all the craziness of 2020 to really dig in and reset with this group of women. For those of you who are interested in taking Live Free From Clutter in the future–just mental note–that the next session will be January, 2021.
The doors will open the end of December. You’ll have a couple of weeks to hop on board, register, get prepared, and we will begin the second week of January, 2021. So just tuck that one away for later, if you’d like to join Live Free From Clutter.
I’ve had over a hundred students in 2020 in this course and such rave reviews. And it makes me so happy because the course is effective at its purpose, which is to help people reset their habits, their systems, and their mindset, so that they can enjoy a more abundant, fulfilling and free life.
And that just makes my heart so happy. That is my goal.
Before I jump in and share the audio from the circle of control webinar, I would love to just give you a little glimpse into our life lately.
Segment: Life Lately
My backyard has had a major transformation because not only is the clubhouse 90% finished, I also added a paver patio to the front over the weekend.
So it has been on my longterm plan to have this little shed transform into the kid’s clubhouse, have a little mini deck, which I added a couple of weeks ago. And the paver patio is now in, in front of the deck.
It looks like its own little cottage. Now it’s got it, a nice clean entry with the pavers. And then the little deck I added some patio furniture to the deck over the weekend. It just is looking so cute and so fun. The kids are already hanging out in there.
I put down a rug over the vinyl flooring that I had installed. The wallpaper is up. I’m waiting on shelving that I ordered to come in.
The back section of the clubhouse is going to function as like a storage area, both for toys and games. We’re going to tuck the little mini fridge up on the shelving also for all of Dave’s exercise equipment that he’s collected throughout the pandemic–as I’m sure many of you have done as well.
Dave loves working out in a CrossFit style and when his gym closed down, he started to collect things for backyard workouts. So we have barbells and we have big, huge weights and little weights and handheld weights and a pull up bar. And all of, like, the stands and things that I don’t do that type of workout very often. So I don’t even know what all the names are.
But he created this really great document with all the measurements and the design and all the products that he would use his recommendations for the storage, for all of the exercise equipment, leaving space for the kids storage.
So he did all of the design work for me, and I just ordered the things that he talked about, and we’re going to be able to organize all of the home gym stuff and the kids’ stuff behind the door.
And I think I’m going to put up a curtain rod like a brass curtain rod with some fun curtains over it, just so that you don’t have to look at all the weights. And when the kids go in, they can just keep their focus on playing games and hanging out together.
Another fun development in the clubhouse is we decided on some art and I was going around and around about whether they should do posters. And I was getting lots of input for the kids and we were searching online and kind of getting a feel and I stumbled across Oxford pennant, which is a company that creates these vintage style, felt banners and pennants.
And they have a whole section of what’s called camp flags. I think they’re just a little bit smaller and not all 100% felt like some of their bigger banners are all felt. These ones are screen-printed with a felt border and some grommets. And they’re just a really cool feel.
And they have fun, inspiring, and sometimes funky sayings on them. I had the kids each choose one and I ordered those. That’s what we’re going to put up on the walls in the clubhouse.
Eliot chose one that says Nobody Knows Anything, which I thought was hilarious. He couldn’t stop laughing when he read it on the website, he was like, that’s so funny. And I thought, you know, it is funny. And it’s also a little bit true that like, it’s just nice to realize that not everyone knows everything, I guess, because we often think we don’t know anything and everyone else knows everything.
“Nobody knows anything” is kind of a good, like, yeah, that’s fine. I’m going to be okay. We’re all figuring it out as we go.
Plum chose one that’s so cute, with a sun on it, that says Everyone’s Invited, which I think is perfect for our clubhouse. We have such a great neighborhood, a great block, a dozen kids my kids’ ages running in and out of our yard all the time.
And I just love the idea that–I want this clubhouse and the kids want this clubhouse to be an inclusive space where everyone’s invited.
Milo chose the last one. It says You Make It Happen. I thought that was so great and appropriate as well. Just this idea of think of an idea, use your imagination, be creative and then start and make it happen.
So all really fun, motivational, interesting, vintage-inspired art that’s going to go up into the clubhouse. So we’re so excited about that.
As I’m talking about the backyard, I thought I should share as well that we’re doing another grass experiment. So if you follow it along in the spring, you know that we have sort of this not great grass situation in our yard. It’s just not a very lush lawn. And I did a ton of seeding and fertilizing and air rating in the spring and it looked great for a while. And then as it’s gotten colder and a little bit more wet.
The weeds have started to tamp out all of the healthier young seed, the grass. And so where we put in the paver patio, we ended up with a couple of feet of just mud from where we had dug out to put the pavers in. And I thought, this is a nice spot to try out this new product that I had seen advertised on Instagram and online.
I actually bought it on Amazon and I’ll put a link in the show notes if you’re interested in checking it out. It’s called Grotrax. And it’s basically like a cloth. Like it feels like fabric that contains mulch and fertilizer and seed all inside the layers. And so you just roll it across the dirt, cut it off where you want the edge to be and then wet it. And as you wet it, it sticks itself to the ground.
Of course you don’t want your kids or pets walking on it. We had to kind of put a border around it so the chickens wouldn’t get at it. We ended up with about four feet by 12 feet of this tracks fabric. We see the fabric down on the lawn. And it says, if you water it a couple of times a day and it has some sunlight, that in two to three weeks you should have the beginnings of your grass seed. And then within five to six weeks it will be like a full lush lawn.
So I’ll keep you posted on Instagram about the new lawn experiment. I am really interested in how it goes and if it does end up working really well, we’ll probably want to just like till out the rest of our grass area and put it down everywhere. So we’ll see how it goes.
As you can tell, most of my focus has been in the yard and the clubhouse and spending as much time outside as possible as the weather cools down and we’re settling into a little bit more a fall feeling.
I am really relishing it after a hot, humid, long summer. It feels really nice to be able to spend a long time outside. The kids and I are going on adventures for homeschool. We’re trying to get out every single day, whether just on walks and bike rides in our own yard and neighborhood to going to local gardens and on hikes nearby, it just feels really good to be outside.
And I’m super excited to continue to transform our yard into a place that we can just spend endless amounts of time and really love it. That my friends is life lately.
Main Topic: Our Circle of Control
Okay. Friends. You may want to grab a paper and pen to take notes as we go. This is a great deep dive into the idea of our circle of control
Today. I’m going to be talking about our circle of control. Man, has this year taught us how little we feel like we can control, right?
I have been thinking a lot about this, our circle of control. And one of the things that I think is helpful just right from the get-go is to redefine control.
I think that the word control can be empowering, but it also can feel a little, get a little bit constrictive. I think of like white-knuckling. Like we just really want to control something. And it’s been really helpful for me to just do a quick word swap, replace control with choice.
So the things that we can control or our circle of control are actually just the things that we can choose. There are a lot of things that we cannot choose as much as we would like to. That’s one message that feels like it just has come up over and over and over this year that are a lot of the choices that we thought were just part of our lives have been taken away. Very many of them in an instant in the Spring when sort of everything closed down all at once.
And then over and over as things have changed and shifted and dynamics. And depending on where you live, things are all a little bit different. Depending on your family and depending on your own your friend groups and your communities, there are so many things that feel like they’re a little bit outside of our choice that we used to believe were firmly within it.
And so I’ve listed some things that I think and worry about. And I want you to think of some of your own. You can share some in the comments, if there’s things that are not here that you’re like, Oh, how did she miss that one?
Money. That’s something that I think about a lot.
Weather. Unfortunately it’s something that I think about a lot and I don’t even live in Florida and Alabama and Louisiana where they’re dealing with flooding right now. I don’t live on the far west coast and northwest where they’ve been dealing with all the fires in California, but that’s something that comes into play.
Health. I know has been top of mind for people.
My kids. They’re something that I worry a lot about. And I think a lot about. They’re not something that I can control.
School. A school has been a bigger issue this year than I think we ever imagined it could be.
Other people. What other people do. What other people think. What they think about us. If you ever worry about that, or think about that, lies beyond what you can choose.
Supply chains. If you have ordered anything online in the last six months, or if you run a business that ships things, some supply chains are something that you never even thought to consider would disrupt your life so much. And yet here we are.
Messes. I know if you are a tidy person or you like to stay organized, you might think a lot about messes. You might feel like messes impact your life a lot.
And then there are some big ones:
The past. Do any of you think or worry about the past things–that have happened, things that you don’t think should have happened, things that you would like to go back and change.
And at the same time: The future. What is coming? There’s so much that we don’t know about the future.
And I know that I am more acutely aware than ever how much I don’t know. And I can’t predict. And so many of the choices that I’m making right now for the future have a little asterisk. That’s like, I’m choosing this and I also understand that it might not work out.
I don’t think I used to plan like that. I think I used to make plans and believe that my plans would happen because I made them. And I know now–I think we all know now–that that is not necessarily true.
So there. I’ve gone through a lot of things that we can’t control. So what are the things that we can?
In the rest of this webinar after I’ve probably raised all of your heartbeats and made you all a little bit frustrated, thinking about all of the things that you cannot control–which is, unfortunately, because of the way that we’re wired, it’s where we spend a lot of our time and energy and our worry.
I want to zone in on the things that we can. This is your circle of choice. These are the things that no matter what is happening outside with any of these other unpredictable things, these are three things that you can always choose.
I made them all “B” words just to make it easier to remember if you’re thinking about this in the future. And you’re trying–to kind of–to think back, it’s always helpful to have a little bit of something, like a little learning tool. And so I went with “B” words:
Beliefs. Belongings. Busy-ness.
Those are things that we can always choose. And so we’re going to go through each of those right now.
We Can Choose Our Beliefs
So a belief. What is a belief? Now, until the last couple of years, I thought that a belief was something that was just truth. I thought that I believed in things because they were truth, if that makes sense. That they were solid, that they were unchanging, that a lot of people would agree with them. And the people who didn’t agree with them, I thought were probably just wrong.
Does anyone feel a little bit like that with some of the beliefs that you have?
In the last couple of years, I have come to understand–and it has been a hugely empowering understanding–that a belief is simply a thought that we decide is true.
And this, all of a sudden, makes so much sense how we can all believe different things. Things that feel so true to you because you decided that they were true, might not feel true to someone else because they decided that something else is true.
In a podcast just a couple of weeks ago, I talked about the idea that two opposing things can be true at the same time, and we can believe both of them. And that’s like even next level that we can believe in a lot of different things that might even conflict with each other.
But whatever we believe, whatever we choose and decide that we want to agree with that thought, that becomes our belief.
Where this gets us into trouble is when our beliefs cause friction in our lives, because they don’t align with what is actually happening.
Sometimes that friction may cause us to want to change our actions.
I’ve realized that sometimes that friction makes me want to change my thought and my belief. And that that is something that I can do. This is when there’s kind of a lot of buzz around the word mindset lately and changing your mindset.
I use it a lot. I talk about it that that’s kind of like this vocabulary word that people are using to describe changing the way that we think.
It is really interesting and important to know that you can choose to believe something different going forward than something that you believed was true in the past. And I’m going to give you some examples of that.
First. I want you to consider for yourself where have your own personal beliefs and values come from. Did they come from your family, from the things your parents taught you? Have you had some really impactful experiences that put thoughts into your mind that you decided were true. “Oh yeah, that’s true.”
How do you absorb messages about how you want to live? I’m going to tell you that, for most of us, the way that we believe and the messages that we receive about what life is supposed to look like, they come through really different avenues now in 2020 than they did even 10 years ago in 2010.
Did you–well, let’s say 11 years ago, I think Instagram was formed in 2009. I think Facebook was probably 2008 or 2007, if I’m not mistaken. [Edit: Instagram launched in 2009, and Facebook launched in 2004]. So this is just barely over one decade. The way that we receive messaging about lifestyle has shifted so much to this social media world, that we are absorbing messages all day long.
Well, as often as you’re on your phone, at least probably several times a week and from a much wider source than we did before. In some ways, this is really positive because we have lots of different options of things and inspiration, and we’re able to see the way different people are doing things, and kind of choose: What do we like? What do we not like?
In some ways it’s a little harmful because what it does is put our focus, once again, outside of our own life. It puts our focus on what other people are doing, what other people believe, what other people are sharing, how other people live. And we try to jump from our circle into alignment with someone else’s idea about what life should look like. And sometimes we might not question if that is something that we want to incorporate back into our own life.
We can love an idea or an inspiration and still decide that it’s not right for us. We can choose to believe something and try it out and then decide we don’t really like that thought it didn’t work very well for us and then leave it behind.
So I just want you to consider for yourself where have your beliefs and values come from? Do you like all of them? And where do your messages about how to live come from? And do you like those places?
And in all of that, I want you to also question how often are you going inside for those answers? How often are you not just taking what someone else thinks believes or shares, but considering it from the standpoint of does this work for me? Does this serve me? Does this belief empower me? Does it help me feel closer to the fulfillment and joy that I hope to feel or does it actually cause that friction and separate me from the way that I would like to feel?
I’m going to share some examples of beliefs that have been really empowering for me:
Everything is going to work out.
Now, this might not be something that you believe right now. In the middle of everything that’s going on right now, this is a statement. This is a sentence. This is a thought that I have decided is true for me.
And you don’t have to decide that it’s true for you.
I can tell you that this thought, everything is going to work out, bring so much peace and hope into my life. And it’s also really open-ended. Cause it’s like, I don’t know how it’s going to work out. I don’t really know what that looks like. I don’t really know exactly where I’m going to be when it does.
I do know that it is going to work out though. Such a simple open-ended belief like that feels really empowering to me. So I choose that as one of my beliefs.
One of my favorite beliefs is I have everything I need right now in order to take the next right step.
This is a belief of abundance. A lot of times we want to take steps forward. We want to move forward with simple things like organizing a closet or like making dinner. Or with big things like going back to school or starting a company.
One thought that a lot of people have is as soon as X happens, then I will begin. This is a belief or a thought that just basically puts off the beginning. It puts off whatever it is that you’re hoping for. And that doesn’t feel empowering to me.
Rather than have that thought, I’ve switched that in my life to believe that I have everything I need right now in order to take the next right step. That next right step might be really small. It might be just like a tiny thing like write a list.
I have a pen and I have a paper. So I’m going to write a list of the things that I need to go get in order to move forward.
Or I need to gather information. So I’m going to call someone or text them or send them an email. This thought has been really empowering for me.
Okay. This next one might make you laugh. If you’re a mom, this is one I’ve been working on. And I don’t believe it all the way yet, but I am working on believing it because it feels so much better to me. Good moms include screen time in their kids’ regular life.
Again, going back to where our messages come from. Most of the messages that I see online on social media, around especially sort of an intentional living type of a theme, the idea is that the less screen time your kids have the better off they are and the better mom you are. Does anyone feel like you’ve seen that message or you kind of were like, “Oh yeah, that’s kind of the vibe that I get to0.”
That idea that my kids should have as little screen time as possible. And that, that is better for them and and reflects better on me, was a really painful thought for me, that belief that my kids should have as little screen time as possible.
And that meant I was a better mom. And they were going to like grow up to be more successful humans. That caused so much friction in my life, especially over the last six months when so many of our other options sort of went up in smoke.
And I had a coaching call, actually, I was being coached on a coaching call about a month ago, we kind of dug deep. And what I got to was this belief that good moms don’t let their kids watch screens very often. And I had the chance to take that out into the light, to the sunlight and watch it sparkle and, and recognize that this was not a thought that was serving me in any meaningful way.
And that I thought that I preferred was that good moms include screen time in their kids’ regular life. And I will tell you that my life has felt so much more peaceful, and my kids are having a great time.
That friction of ramming up against this belief that I had decided to believe was true. That is not inherently true. Not everyone would agree on that. There’s lots of schools of thought about this and we just get to choose what we believe.
It’s been really nice to say, yeah, it’s great. And I, and I they’re happy indulging in lots of different types of screens. They do some video games. They do some learning screens. We watch movies together as a family. It’s so wonderful.
And I also feel a lot more peaceful when I’m heading to my office or when I’m going upstairs to take a nap. And I say, yeah, don’t worry about it. You can watch a screen while I’m gone. It just feels so much better.
Here’s another one, buying more things doesn’t correlate to feeling more satisfied. Again, this more is better is a pervasive belief in our culture and our society. More = Better. And it almost doesn’t matter what we’re talking about, right?
More food. We love restaurants that have big portions because you get more for your money. More things under the Christmas tree means that you had a successful Christmas. More of everything, right?
I believe that more things doesn’t correlate in any way to feeling more satisfied. And that belief helps me recognize when I have that extrinsic pull of like, Oh, I should buy some that some random thing, or look how cute all this stuff is in the Target dollar spot. “All of these things are going to make me feel better. They’re going to make me feel more satisfied with my life.”
I can check in with this belief and say, no, I actually don’t believe that’s true. I can feel as satisfied as I want within my life, regardless of the amount of things that I have. It’s an empowering belief.
This is another one that I love. One of the most important uses of my time is rest. How many of you believe that? Like really, really believe it. This is another one that’s newer for me.
In the last couple years, I have started to recognize how much friction, again, the belief that I should always be moving. I should always be accomplishing. I should rest when I die. All of those thoughts and beliefs that I have previously held that have been taught to me by my parents, you know, inadvertently, my dad is one of the hardest working people that I know.
And one of his favorite things to say, as I was growing up was, we work hard and we play hard. And we did. We worked really hard as a family. He owns his own business. He taught me a lot about entrepreneurship. He taught me a lot about like getting something done and doing it right the first time.
And we had so much fun together. We went sailing, we flew kites. He took me backpacking. I learned to camp. We went kayaking. I learned how to ski. We worked really hard and we played really hard.
And I recognize as an adult that I didn’t ever really learn to rest hard. I should either be working in order to earn money and earn some sort of brownie points to take a break. But that break wasn’t really a break. That break was just playing and adventuring and going and doing.
And so I’ve been really, really good at both of those in my life. And only in the last few years, have I recognized how important rest–rest in the form of sleep, absolutely. And also rest in the form of downtime that doesn’t further any of my goals necessarily.
Reading in the hammock. Writing just for fun. Doodling. Coloring. Baking something. Trying a new recipe, just like for no reason. Sitting on the couch and watching like lots and lots of The Home Edit. Has anyone been doing that recently?
Knowing that rest is one of the most important ways that I can spend my time allows me to create space for it in a meaningful way. And everything else in my life feels better when I do that.
Okay. So I want you to think for yourself for a minute, what are some of the–maybe even write these down, I don’t know if you’re taking notes–what are some of the beliefs that you have that are causing friction in your life right now?
And then later on, consider how could this belief be changed? Or how could I rework this thought in a way that it serves me, that the belief serves me for my circumstance right now?
You’ll find so much empowerment in focusing in on your own personal beliefs and making sure that they align in a way that empowers you and that it doesn’t disenfranchise you. It doesn’t stress you out. It doesn’t make you feel bad about yourself all the time.
Why would we choose to believe things that make us feel bad about the way that we’re living all the time? Choose beliefs that are stepping stones toward you becoming more of the person that you want to be. And you’ll find that you feel so much more fulfilled.
You Can Choose Your Belongings
Let’s move on to belongings. So we talked about Beliefs. Now we’re going to move on to belongings.
Belongings are simply our material possessions, and this is something that we have that is all so within our circle of choice that we often don’t focus on. For whatever reason. It’s a lot easier or more fun to think about and worry about other things outside of our circle of control and our circle of choice.
Let’s zone in on our own belongings for a while,
I like to think about belongings in three phases: things coming in, things going out and the system that allows those two to happen.
So I want you to consider among all of your material possessions. And at some point it’s helpful to go like items by items or category by category. Maybe for this webinar, it would be helpful for you to consider maybe a problem area in your belongings, in your life right now. Somewhere that you either feel like you don’t have enough, or that you have way too much–which is more often the case that people feel like, gosh, I have so much stuff overflowing in my kitchen or stuffed in the garage or in my closet.
So think about that area. And I want you to ask yourself this question, how did this stuff get here? How did this stuff get here? It did not just magically appear one day.
How did things your material possessions flow into your life? There’s a couple ways. The typical ways that things come into your life are that you purchase them. That’s a very common way.
Another one is that someone else purchases them for you and gives them to you as a gift. And we feel really differently about these two things, right?
The third way is that someone donates them to you or hands them down to you.
You buy it. Someone else gives it to you as a gift or someone else sort of gives it to you. Not necessarily as a gift, but more as like hand me downs. Other people in your family buy things too, as well. If you are–for the purpose of this webinar right now, let’s talk about your own material possessions. So the things that you have jurisdiction over. The things that you wouldn’t have to ask anyone to throw away. That’s an easy way to kind of figure out what things kind of fall within your jurisdiction.
So how did this stuff get here? When you think about those three ways that things come into your life, belongings come into your life. It can start to give you a little bit of a—maybe you hadn’t thought about that before. How are things coming in?
Are they coming in because you’re buying them often? Is there something about the way that you shop, how often you shop or the type of shopping that you do that feels like you’d like to make changes or feels overwhelming, or do you feel like, Oh no, I’ve nailed it.
If you feel like you have too much stuff, the problem is going to be either in how things come in or in how things go out. A lot of times I get to this question, how are things flowing out of your life? And I’m met with just blank stares, because we all know how to buy things.
We are taught on TV, by our friends on Instagram, on every commercial, on every end cap. Every time you walk into a store, every time you do anything you are advertised to, and people are reminding you how to buy things and what to buy and how often and every single day.
Actually, I remember years ago, walking into H&M to get some new clothes for my little kids. At the time, they were much younger–toddlers. And there was on the wall–it was a stairwell going up to the top floor where the kids stuff was. On the wall it said: New items coming in every day. You should too.
And I was like, they’re not kidding. They have new stuff coming into the store every single day. I could walk into H&M every day and buy one thing and never run out of things to buy because there’s always something new.
So most of us don’t have any problem. I mean, if we have a problem, it’s that we have a very easy time allowing things in, but we get stopped up with how things go out.
Things that come in, we also need to have a system for the way that things go out of our lives. Unless we live in an ever expanding house with ever expanding organizational capabilities, which I definitely don’t.
How do things flow out of your home? Do you donate things? Do you have in your mind, again, going back to beliefs, certain categories of things that you simply cannot get rid of.
Things that normally fall into that category are gifts. Things that other people gave you. For whatever reason, a lot of us have the belief that gifts are things that we must keep, even if we don’t like them or use them, or didn’t ask for them.
That’s not a belief that I hold anymore. I have a very clear belief that I am in charge of the things that are in my home and in my space. And I can accept a gift with gratitude and I can still let it flow out of my life, whether through donation or finding someone else who has a really good fit for.
There’s lots of ways for things to flow out of your home. But if you don’t have a system in place for it, you probably are feeling overwhelmed with clutter. You probably feel like you have too much stuff, and it’s really fun and easy to buy more, but it’s not necessarily as fun and easy to get rid of and cycle through things that you already have, right?
Those are the two things that we need to create some balance in. The in and the out.
One way to do that is through different types of systems. And so I have a lot of different systems. I actually have a podcast all about this. I love to keep an open donation box in my house somewhere. Actually, right now it’s a reusable bag that’s hanging on a hook by my front door.
In the course of my regular life, if I come across something that I–I open a drawer and I’m like, why is this thing in here? Going back to this, like, I go back to who bought this? Why is this here? And usually it’s like me. I bought it, but I don’t use it anymore.
It’s either lived its life and we don’t need it anymore or whatever. And I take it right then rather than just closing the drawer and saying, ahh–I take it right then and I’d go put it in my open donation box. I put it in that bag. And when the bag is full, I stick it in the back of my car. And the next time I drive past a Goodwill, then I’m able to get rid of it. That’s part of my regular life that I just have an ongoing donation ready.
I also choose to use an edited wardrobe. And if you followed me in the podcast or, or on Instagram, then you probably know more about this. I talk a lot about it. I have several blog posts about it and a podcast that’s all about it, episode six.
This helps to create a system, both for the in and for the out. I only shop about two times a year for clothing. And I do it after going through kind of a system of seeing what I have, what still fits, what do I still like?
Because even if you want to be intentional about your life, and you’re a minimalist, like I am, your style can still shift and change over time. And so it’s not like something you’re always going to… love it. You can love it. And still maybe a few years later think, Oh, I don’t know, it’s kind of lived its life.
Again, after I’ve decided exactly what it is that I have and that I like, and what things are going to go, then I can clearly identify what is missing. What are the holes in my regular wardrobe. And that’s what I go get. And I do that with intention. Right now I’m kind of in a cycle over the next weekend, week or two at my house is transforming our wardrobes into our fall winter closets.
So I’m doing this with my kids. We just went through all their shoes and I know who needs–Eliot needs, new church shoes and Plum needs new winter boots. So once we identify those things, then I can go and get them with clarity.
And the out happens right then. I go through it all and we get rid of it. Having a system for the turnover has been really helpful in managing our belongings and focusing in on that–on the choices that I can make when it comes to my own material possessions. Secondhand shopping is something that we choose to do. I buy all of our clothes, either secondhand or from a sustainable source. And this is just something that I like to do.
And I also sell things secondhand fairly often. So if you have a bunch of stuff and you’re like, Oh, get hung up on the belief that it’s value is still there and you don’t want to just donate it. You want to sell it. That’s something that you can choose to do.
Another way that I like to manage our material possessions is through a cleaning power hour. We do that every day as I’m getting ready for dinner, we just turn on some fun music and people run around the house. And granted, we live in a very small house, so this does not take very long. We put things back where they go.
And as we’re putting things back where they go, we can kind of see where are the friction areas? Like I just built a new bookshelf for my kids and my younger two. They share a room and I have this really fun rainbow on the wall. And there’s this bookshelf that goes in front of it. And when I did that, all of their books fit really nicely within the bookshelf, but we gain books regularly.
My kids love to read. One of them is part of a reading–like a book subscription. So he gets three new books a month. I recognize the books are starting to overflow and this was a cue for me. Like we need to go through our books and determine which ones we’re going to donate. And so that was fairly simple and easy, but it was nice to have a cue to remind me, like, we’re not, when things aren’t fitting in the space that’s designated for them. That means it’s time to make some choices.
And that’s something I can involve my kids in as well and help teach them about things coming in and things going out. So this is this is how we focus on our material possessions, on our belongings.
The in, the out, and the systems are all well within your circle of control.
I love this quote from Samantha who went through my Live Free From Clutter course in the spring. She said, “I can’t believe how often I was putting things in my cart mindlessly. I’ve loved how my eyes have been open to wants and needs and all the stuff I was bringing into my home that we didn’t really need.”
How many of you can relate to this idea of coming home–we kind of joke about it, like going into Target for one thing and coming home with 30. We joke about it. And then we get frustrated when we’re at home, surrounded by things, not being able to close closets, not knowing where you know, where things go or how to put things away.
And it’s really helpful to understand how much of a choice this is that we can choose with intention. And as we are bringing a level of awareness to it, then we’re able to often make choices that are better aligned with our hopes for our family and our homes.
I love this quote from Socrates: “The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”
This goes back to that really empowering belief that I love that you are welcome to adopt as well. The idea that I already have everything that I need right now in order to make the next right step, in order to feel fulfilled and satisfied in my life.
That doesn’t mean that nothing is ever going to come in or I’m not ever going to buy anything new. It means that I don’t have to in order to feel better, that my capacity for fulfillment and joy exists right now without changing a single thing.
We Can Choose Our Level Of Busy-ness
Okay. Let’s move on to number three.
Within our circle of choice is our busy-ness. So this is the one that I probably would have said schedule if I wasn’t using a “B” word, but I like belief, belongings and busy-ness.
What is busy-ness busy-ness? It is the commitments on our time. These are things that we always get to choose. We always get to choose. And you may bump up against some of your beliefs right now. When I share a little bit about my thoughts on busy-ness.
Here’s a good question. When you’re looking at your schedule, you’re looking at the way you spend your time, the way that your day goes. I want you to consider who signed up for this and why. Whether it’s something that involves other people or not.
If it’s lessons, why am I taking Plum to swimming lessons twice a week? Or gosh, now I have to get everything set up for the zoom piano lesson again. You know, who signed up for these things and why?
When you’re feeling some friction about the commitments on your time, I want you to ask yourself who decided that this was going to happen and why.
If you were the one who decided it and you can’t think of why anymore, like the decision, the purpose for whatever the commitment is, is gone now, and you feel more relief thinking, “well, I don’t want to do this anymore,” than thinking, “Oh yeah, we definitely need to maintain this commitment.” It is well within your circle of choice to decide to discontinue that commitment.
Whether it’s lessons, whether it’s social events, whether it is duties that you think that you should do. Anything that has like a should, I’m going to question that goes onto this next sentence right here.
Everything is optional. Every single thing that we do is optional. For everyone. For our kids. I mean, we know that for our kids, right? Because we’ll often ask them to do things and then they don’t do it. And we’re like, wait, instead of being kind of inspired by our kids and their audacity to be themselves and choose to not do things that someone else tells them to do, we often just feel frustrated that they’re not being obedient.
I think it is so empowering. I mean, I also want my kids to follow the family guidelines and make decisions within the boundaries that we’ve created. And it is so nice to see that we get to choose. I remember in 2013, sitting in a room at a conference.
Eliot was about two years old. I knew I wanted to have another baby. I was doing this conference. I was trying to grow my blog. I remember sitting there and listening to the speaker.
And at one point someone asked him about how to be happy. Like how, how is he happy in his life? And he simply said, “Well, I do more of the things that I like and less of the things that I don’t like.”
You mean as an adult, I can choose the things that I do. I can choose how to spend my time. I can choose what I want to commit to and what I’m not going to say yes to.
Again, we should go back to some of those beliefs. Where are you getting the idea about how you should spend your time? Is it from your parents? Is it from your friends? Is it from your church? Who is informing the way that you should commit your time and how it should be spent?
I’m going to hopefully help you feel empowered that the way that you spend your time is a choice. And everything is optional.
Whenever I talk about this, someone always brings up the laundry or the dishes, and I’m going to say, even those things are optional. Even those things are optional.
What are the other options? I mean, there are for sure people who don’t do the laundry and don’t do the dishes. I’m not saying that I like the consequences. My kids all wearing dirty clothes all the time, or paying for a laundry service, which I mean, I do like that one.
And we have done that at different times in our life. When we lived in a rental enrichment and our washer and dryer broke unexpectedly right before we were going to move into the new place. We just used a laundry delivery service and just switched some things out in our budget.
So for three or four months, we left our dirty clothes on the front porch and they came and picked it up. It was like magic. The van came and picked it up. And two days later dropped off neatly folded, delicious smelling clothes. Folded, clean, ready to go back in the drawers.
That was a choice. I’m not going to do the laundry anymore. I’m not gonna go sit in a laundry mat. And so I’m just going to pay to have someone else do it. That’s an option.
You don’t want to do the dishes sometimes. You can use disposable dishes. I don’t love the consequence of that on the environment, for my family and my impact. And sometimes that’s a choice that we make.
There is always a choice. And you can decide whether or not you like the consequence or whether or not you can handle the consequences of those choices.
Oftentimes we put so much pressure on ourselves to do it this certain way, or within this certain timeline, needlessly. There is no consequence to whether you pick up the living room at night when you’re already tired or in the morning, or even two days later.
There is no consequence, except for that, you might feel better allowing yourself to believe that it’s optional and saying, I’m going to go watch a movie with my spouse, or I’m going to go on a bike ride instead of, you know, weeding the front yard.
You can choose. Isn’t that like the best thing ever? You get to choose the way you spend your time. When it comes to commitments, the opportunities presented to us or invitations. Invitations on our time by other people. This is still well within our own choice.
“No” is a complete sentence.
Especially if you’re a woman, you have been raised and taught in most cases to believe that when someone invites you to do something, to volunteer, to host, to participate in some way, that the correct answer is yes, and that is not true.
There are lots of good ways to live and you get to choose what you want to commit your time to and the things that you don’t. And it’s okay to just say no. And you don’t have to explain why–now going back to beliefs, because it all starts at beliefs.
What someone chooses to think about you or say to you, or how they present the decision that you made to others is going to lie outside of your circle of control or that circle of choice. And the thing that’s so interesting. If that’s true, whether you say yes or no, people are going to think about you however they want, whether you show up for their party or show up as the PTA president, or not.
So don’t make your decisions based on what you think other people should think about you or how you want them to perceive you or what you hope others are going to do because of your choice.
The only piece that you can control is your decision, how you choose to spend your time.
Time is one of the few things that–I consider resources. I think of money as a resource. I think of energy as a resource. I think of time as a resource.
Time is one of those resources that is not renewable. It passes and it goes. Energy can be renewed. Money is just an ever ongoing, renewable resource. Time is not.
And it’s vital that we take back our circle of choice when it comes to how we spend our time. And this includes not only what we do, but also how we spend our time in worrying and thinking about all of the things that are outside of our circle of control.
How often do you find yourself wasting time feeling frustrated or annoyed, or really trying hard to change something that will only change when other people decide to change it. That you actually make no impact on?
I’m not saying that it’s always a bad thing to worry about things that are outside of our control. I think worry sometimes can be helpful or can feel meaningful. I think that all of the feelings should be felt.
I accept all feelings. I love all feelings. I know my goal is not to be happy all the time. My goal is to feel fulfilled and to feel purposeful. And sometimes I don’t and that’s totally okay. It’s really helpful, however, to understand when I’m frittering away emotion on things that don’t depend on me in any way. When I can see that I can plug that hole and focus back on my circle of choice.
What can I do? What can I believe? What am I going to do with all these things that I own? And how do I handle that?
Those are all of the things that are within our circle of control.
“In order to seek one’s own direction, one must simplify the mechanics of ordinary everyday life.” I love the simplicity of this quote. As you’re trying to figure out what is your path? What is your purpose? How do you find that fulfillment? Where does that joy that you’re hoping for come from?
In the midst of what I will argue is one of the most turbulent, question-inducing, panic- and worry-inducing, years of my lifetime, it’s helpful to remember to focus back on my circle of choice and to simplify the mechanics of my ordinary everyday life.
That is where the joy is found. That is where the fulfillment is found.
Well, friends. I hope you enjoyed this episode.
As a recap, our circle of choice includes our beliefs, our belongings, and our busy-ness.
We have so much choice when it comes to all of those areas. And sometimes we forget that. Sometimes we get going downstream, following along the path that has been laid out before us, either by those who have gone before or by those who think that they know best for us.
I want to remind you that you know best for you. You’re an adult. Begin to trust yourself. Question where the friction is and allow yourself the possibility of making a change. Small changes to simplify, to become more aligned and to feel more free.
I want to thank you as always for tuning into the show. I appreciate every single one of you listening.
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It’s also been a while since I talked about my book. Do you guys remember I wrote a book last year, so fun. If you haven’t grabbed a copy, head to the show notes and pick one up, it’s called More Than Enough. It’s available on Amazon or through my shop shop.livefreecreative.com.
I would love for every single one of the podcast listeners to read my book as well.
Have a wonderful weekend. I’ll chat with you next time. See you later.