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The Fastest Way to Achieve Success is by Spending Less Time

As a person who always has multiple things on the go, I am ruthless with how and where I spend my time. 

Time is a finite resource, but we use it (or abuse it) as though it is not. 

Once you start seeing each day as the valuable, irreplaceable entity it really is, you will start to drastically change how you spend your time

You will realize that spending a day binge-watching a subpar Netflix series is actually extremely detrimental.

You will realize that putting off exercise for one more day is not as harmless as you used to perceive it to be. 

You will realize that ignoring that phone call from a loved one is actually much more selfish than you may have previously felt it was. 

Imagine if your time ran out tonight, would you be happy with how you spent your last day?

I by no means am an advocate of spending all of your waking hours trying to become successful. I believe becoming successful, in a specific area of your life, comes from creating a harmonious relationship within all areas of importance in your life and making the appropriate time for all of them. 

The first step to reclaiming your relationship with success is to start giving yourself less time than you are comfortable with. 

The first step to empowering yourself is by making yourself uncomfortable. Many times, especially when a goal is very large and cumbersome, we instill weak timelines, which makes it easier to ignore what can be done today. 

When you give yourself a year to lose ten pounds, what is the inherent rush to start changing your diet today? There is always the start of a forthcoming new week to hold off until. 

When you say that you will start searching for your dream job, once your current professional responsibilities slow down, you are basically telling yourself that it is okay to stay exactly where you are forever. 

When you say that you will start spending more time with the kids after work, once the weather changes and you feel less lethargic, you are robbing yourself of making beautiful memories today. 

If our lives were over today, would we be grateful that we avoided our families, professional responsibilities and personal goals in the pursuit of procrastination and watching one more shitty episode of some show?

When you give yourself a ruthless timeline to complete a goal, the goal will become a primary part of each day, thereby increasing the chances of reaching success.

When you are not ridding yourself of interruptions, distractions and unnecessary breaks, your tasks will always take three to four times the amount of time needed. 

When I was completing courses for my Master’s program, colleagues and I would always compare marks on the papers we submitted. We always had similar marks, something ranging from eighty to ninety percent, but what varied greatly was the amount of time each of us was spending writing the papers. 

Whenever I received an assignment, I would gauge how long I would spend on it based on the percentage of the total mark it was worth. For example, if a paper was worth fifteen percent of my final mark, I would allow myself seven hours to complete said paper. Those seven hours were utilized very strictly too, so that I ensured that I was not wasting a single minute of the time. 

What surprised me is that colleagues of mine were spending two, three to even four times the amount of hours I was spending on my paper and we were receiving parallel marks on the final assignments. It upset my colleagues how little time they felt I was spending, but what I realized was that our perception of the paper was what impacting our ability to execute. 

When you allow yourself ‘as much time as it takes’ to complete a task, you are not going into working on the task with the zeal someone like me is. Perhaps you start your day by researching articles for your paper, while surfing the net, answering text messages and calls as they come in, regardless of their level of importance and grazing through Instagram. 

At the end of the day, when you meet your partner for a much-deserved dinner out, you will tell them that you spent the last twelve hours researching articles for your paper, but in reality, you probably spent half that time or even (much) less. When you are not ridding yourself of interruptions, distractions and unnecessary breaks, your tasks will always take three to four times the amount of time needed. 

When you tell yourself that you only have one hour to research all the articles needed for your paper, you are going to zero in on the task with such focus that any texts coming through to your phone will all be deemed interruptions and you will probably put your phone on silent. 

You will start to realize that we really prevent ourselves from reaching true greatness by not putting time allocations on progress points. 

Let us say that your problem is a lack of organization. You want to clean your house and create a rigid structure to ensure that you never again miss a deadline, are late for a meeting and are in control of your day. When we sit and think about this task, it seems so large and cumbersome, almost impossible to overcome right? The first thing to do is to break it up. 

Break up the task into smaller goals and put timelines on each of them. In order to make your life more organized, perhaps you break up your goals into something smaller like: clean the house, declutter the house, find an accountability buddy, buy an agenda and start preparing for each day the night before. 

Now that the giant goal has been broken down into smaller, more manageable goals, you can now assign them strict timelines. Give yourself four hours to clean your house, from top to bottom. You might argue that four hours is not enough, but if you pop in some headphones, put on your favourite soundtrack and get to work, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish with four hours. 

Start chipping away at each goal in this manner. Think about how much time you think you need, for example, ‘I need the entire weekend to clean my house,’ and ruthlessly pair down how much time you think you need. Give yourself a time constraint which makes you feel uncomfortable and watch your focus and determination grow. You will be amazed at how amazing your house can look after three hours of uninterrupted cleanup.

By making ourselves uncomfortable with being comfortable we will achieve goals we never thought were attainable. 

Once you complete a goal, congratulate yourself. Perhaps you go out for a coffee, watch a thirty-minute television show or simply take a nap, but acknowledge how hard you worked and that you deserve a break. Once your break is over, get started on the next task. 

When you start pairing down the time associated with tasks you will realize that the biggest limitation to goal completion is ourselves. We tell ourselves that it is impossible to read for thirty minutes each night, but for some odd reason, we have no issue keeping up with our favourite television program. We say we have no time to eat healthily, but for some reason we have no issue spending massive amounts of money on takeout, which forces us to take on extra shifts to pay for such an extravagance.

When I had the idea to write this article I gave myself three hours to write it out. I went to a local coffee shop, treated myself to a cup of java and got to work. Even when I wanted to scroll through Instagram, call a friend or respond to a text, I did not because I simply could not afford to waste one of the precious minutes assigned to the task. 

My theory is not fail-proof, sometimes a project or goal takes much longer than originally anticipated, but the simple act of starting the task, with a strict timeline is what afforded me the opportunity to reassess how much time I actually needed. This tactic simply gets you moving and movement keeps you moving, so the very act of starting is the true claim to fame. 

Instead of reading one more article today, lazing on the couch for another hour or saying you will start tomorrow, give yourself a tight deadline for today. Tell yourself that you are going to spend the next sixty minutes carving your own mini-goals, which will get you closer to that larger goal you have been dreaming about. Make yourself uncomfortable by starting today and watch your completion rate begin to soar. You will be amazed at what you can do with sixty minutes of precious time. 

Instead of feeling guilty for one more second about not walking the dog enough, spending enough time with your partner, taking care of your house or improving yourself, spend that time completing an action that will make you feel better immediately. Take that pup for a stroll, go and give your partner a hug and ask them how they are doing, quit avoiding the dishwasher and simply load it up and turn it on or start that blog today and watch how the very act of doing versus thinking changes how you feel about the task, yourself and your outlook on life in general. 

Successful People Aren’t Busy: The Secret to Reach Your Next Level of Success

In order to reach a true level of consistent, long-term success you must learn to master your own emotions, thoughts and outlook on life.

“Oh I am just so busy, I barely have time to think today.”

Believing that you are too busy to achieve your goals is the biggest lie we tell ourselves. We are only as busy as we believe we are, so busyness is not a fact, but a belief we teach ourselves. 

“Those who are wise won’t be busy, and those who are too busy can’t be wise.”

― Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living

In order to transform your life from busy to beneficial one must start being ruthless with themselves, how they spend their time and who they spend their time with. We also need to start being ruthlessly honest with ourselves as to where we are wasting time. 

The first question I have for you is how do you start your day?

Do you spend thirty minutes hitting snooze each day? Well, you are not getting a good sleep doing that, nor are you starting your day off on the right foot, so this technique needs to be adjusted. Either go to bed earlier, or set your alarm for later, but the act of hitting snooze puts us in this odd purgatory-like state where we are telling ourselves that we are not prepared for the day, we are not looking forward to the day and we are literally avoiding the forthcoming day. 

Starting each day with a positive, optimistic mindset is essential to have the tenacity to get through the tough bits each day is filled with. Each day is filled with little (or big) irritations, distractions, issues and problems. By starting your day with gratitude, positivity and the right footing (by literally getting out of bed and not hitting the dreaded snooze) these missteps may not bring you down as much as they have in the past.

Making time for journaling, meditation, preparing for your day and having a healthy meal are ideal for the morning, but start with baby steps. Slowly start integrating positive habits into your day and as one becomes normalized, slowly and steadily continue to add more and more until you have a strong, positive starting off point for the rest of your day.

If you stopped hitting snooze what inconveniences would vanish from your life?

If you are not running late for work, perhaps every red light which stops you will cease feeling like it is personally victimizing you.

If you are getting up on time, perhaps you will have time to make that pot of coffee you vow to make each night and actually save a few bucks this week.

If you are out of bed an hour before you leave the house, perhaps you will avoid that daily argument with your spouse about who is more behind schedule and who needs to get ready first, so that you can actually enjoy one another’s company before heading out for the day.  

“Go back to school? Are you insane? I can barely get through my day as it is…how would I ever add school to my routine?

When you think you are too busy to add another task or requirement to your life, you might be right. 

“It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”

― Henry David Thoreau

As we add more onto our plate, we should also be good at removing items from our plate as well. Successful people are experts at cutting the fat. In order to be successful you have to be a good delegator. One thing that I have noticed that consistently impedes success is the inability of letting go. It is extremely egotistical to think that you yourself have to do everything yourself in order for it to be done right. 

Successful people are experts at cutting the fat.

If you honestly think that the world would stop turning if you did not do all that you do, you need to start getting uncomfortable. Every tiny task does not need to be done by you, nor does it need to be done the way you think it needs to be done.

I have a friend who will not let her husband clean the kitchen ever. It sounds like a terrible situation for her and a great one for her spouse, but when I asked her why she does not let him clean the kitchen she said, “He doesn’t know how to load the dishwasher properly.” I looked at her quizzically, and asked, “but he does fill it and turn it on?” “Yes,” she said quickly, “but it isn’t done the way I would do it, so I would rather just do it myself.” This is a clear example of someone outright refusing to make their life easier. News flash, there is no ‘right’ way to fill a dishwasher, as long as it is filled, the job is done well enough. 

Think about your own life and reflect on this example, are there things in your work or home life which you refuse to relinquish for a reason such as the one above? Can you see how silly they seem when you actually think about them?

“I am so busy and I have so much to do, but I cannot even begin to think about asking for help because I do not want to bother anyone else with my woes.”

Successful people are good at asking for help, delegating responsibility and understanding where they are needed and where they are not needed. 

“Never let your ego get in the way of asking for help when in desperate need. We have all been helped at a point in our lives.”

― Edmond Mbiaka

Asking for help is not a weakness, but a great strength. Understanding how you can scratch someone else’s back and how they can scratch yours is the magic of life. 

Perhaps at work you have a giant report due at the end of the month. Why not delegate certain aspects of it to your team, especially the ones who have acknowledged that they would like more responsibility? Do not take credit for their work, but rather, let your supervisor know that the final product was a team effort. You kill two birds with one stone this way, your report gets done, without you having to work until midnight every day this month and your staff feel valued, plus they get an additional project to add to their resume for forthcoming promotional opportunities. 

Make sure that you are utilizing your role and your team appropriately. Whether you are in a managerial or team position, be firm with your boundaries, clearly understand your roles and responsibilities and utilize your time effectively. If you have time to socialize at work, I would argue that you are not as busy as you claim to be. Be harsh with yourself and ensure that you are assessing your life unbiasedly. 

Delegating responsibility, at work and at home, is critical to reach your next level of success. 

 “We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to do’ list.” —Michelle Obama, former First Lady

You cannot be killing it at work if you do not have a balanced household. Work with your spouse to see how things could be more balanced. If you feel that your daily household tasks are bogging you down, why not ask the love of your life for a helping hand? I cannot think of anyone who would be (or should be) more eager to help you. 

Learn to understand where your presence and energy are best utilized. Stop saying ‘yes’ to every invitation you are sent. You do not have to go to an acquaintance’s birthday party, which will eat up your entire Saturday night. 

You do not have to go to that never-ending committee meeting, if you have just reasons why it is not adding value to your department and remove it from your calendar. 

You do not have to chat with your annoying colleague every morning for fifteen minutes, if it does not bring you joy. 

You do not need to go to every Sunday dinner at your in-laws house, if it does not lift you up, but depletes you. 

Cut out the stuff which is not serving you and you will multiply the time you have for progress and pleasantries.

“I am so stressed that I could just curl up into a ball and cry.”

Individuals who are successful are cool, calm and collected. 

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from a horse master. He told me to go slow to go fast. I think that applies to everything in life. We live as though there aren’t enough hours in the day but if we do each thing calmly and carefully we will get it done quicker and with much less stress.

Viggo Mortensen

It is super hard to convey an aura of success if your outward appearance is frazzled. If you never seem to know where your keys are, are running late for every meeting, or just look stressed you will not be seen as a person who others will see (or want to see) as in charge. 

How you are perceived by others is important, especially in the workplace. No one wants to work with the person who is always jumping to conclusions, stressed out or complaining about being overworked. Learn to manage your emotions first and manage your time second; you will realize that a lot of your time issues had to do with how you perceived things to be versus how they actually are. Realize that how you dress, how you react and how speak is noticed by others.

“I work so hard, I just do not understand why I can’t catch a break!”

In order to be successful and happy in life you must learn to cut out the bullshit from your day.

“Some of us are busy doing things; some of us are busy complaining.”

― Debasish Mridha

You have to learn to organize your day, time and mind to only focus on the things which better you and your life. When I meet someone who is trying so desperately hard to improve themselves or their circumstances and is unsuccessful, I know that there is (probably) an issue with execution.

Disorganization will keep you busy, but not with the right things. 

If you are not an organized person, your day controls you versus you owning your day. In order to be successful, you need to be in control of each and every day. A disorganized person spends most of their day chasing their requirements. They run around, haphazardly, from one event to the next, barely able to register what is happening, let alone enjoy their coffee. 

When you organize your day, plan for it, prepare for it and are ready for events, duties and tasks before they can get ahead of you, you are on the road to success. You are able to control the events coming at you and clearly determine what needs your attention and what is unnecessary drama. 

When you take steps at removing disorganization or poor planning from your routine, you will see your time to begin to expand. You will leave for work refreshed, rather than exhausted before the day has already begun. You will savour your morning coffee and lunch because you will make the time to mindfully prepare them and also have the time to enjoy them. 

The energy to be successful comes from taking proper care of yourself and your needs before the needs of others. We are of no service to others, personally or professionally speaking, when we are depleted of energy. 

“I couldn’t get everything I needed done today, but I will work twice as hard tomorrow.”

You stop doing before your to-do list is done. 

“A day can really slip by when you’re deliberately avoiding what you’re supposed to do.”

― Bill Watterson, There’s Treasure Everywhere

A person who is struggling to achieve success also struggles to complete tasks. If you spend a lot of time each day negotiating with yourself (or others) why a task can be put off for another day (or longer), you are working against yourself. The energy you are expending justifying sitting on the couch instead of doing the tasks you need to do is probably greater than just doing the task itself. 

It is sometimes shocking how something which has been nagging you for days, weeks or even months can sometimes take so little time to actually complete and remove from your life. 

I had a closet which needed organizing which was on my mind for months. It plagued me, it stressed me out when I was trying to relax and it irritated me (mentally and emotionally) every time I saw. Simply looking at the mess made me feel bad about myself. It was a constant reminder of how I was letting myself down. It allowed me a reason to be hard on myself, in an unhealthy way, which depleted me of energy, rather than giving me the energy to do smart work.  

When I finally realigned my energy from thinking about the problem to (finally) fixing the problem I was amazed that it took me less than thirty minutes to correct this issue and remove it from my life. Less than thirty minutes, but I allowed this problem to fester for an entire season. Upon reflection of this situation, I now always try to plough through and get the work done, especially when I know it will take fifteen minutes or less. 

“Therapy, yoga, meditation, and exercise? Who has time for all of that?”

A person who does not take care of their mental and physical health will always struggle to reach their peak levels of success.

“Mental health needs a great deal of attention. It’s the final taboo and it needs to be faced and dealt with.” – Adam Ant

You cannot be successful without doing right by yourself first. If you do not make your mental, physical and emotional health a priority, there is only so far you can go on grit alone. In order to attain long term success one must be resilient. In order to become resilient an individual must understand how to rest properly. If you ignore your body, and the clear warning signs it delivers to you during peak stress, your ability to do will be jeopardized. 

Once you learn to make yourself a priority and care for yourself the way you care about growth you will master the art of long term success. Once you are no longer battling it out with yourself to do more each day, but rather understanding how to strategically align your energy with the things that matter most, you will be winning like you have never won before. 

When you realize that an hour long walk after dinner with your puppy is actually more beneficial to your success than trying to cram in another hour of work, you are thinking long-term gains instead of short-term wins. 

When you begin to realize that making the time to prepare a healthy lunch instead of grabbing cheap takeout or not eating at all is better for you in the long run, you are no longer fighting with yourself, but on the same team. 

When you realize that an evening out with a loved one is not a waste of time, but an essential use of time for making significant connections with others, you will start utilizing your work time (even more) smartly. 

Once you start integrating your work time into a balanced, healthy lifestyle that is when you will start working smarter instead of harder. You do not need to work on your professional goals every minute of every day in order to be successful, rather you need to start spending your working minutes more critically.  You will work hard, but not necessarily more.

A successful person takes advantage of the seemingly insignificant minutes in the day. 

“How did it get so late so soon?”

― Dr. Seuss

Fifteen minutes on the train to work should not be wasted time. Ten minutes between meetings is not the time to scroll Instagram. The thirty minutes before bed are not meant to be spent staring blankly at your television screen.

Once you start seeing the worth and value of every minute of every day you will begin to find so much lost time. You will start to realize that you do have time to read a book a month, if you start to utilize your commute to work better. 

You will start to realize that you can be fully prepared for each meeting, if you spend those seemingly insignificant moments between meetings to go over the agenda, read over the previous meeting minutes and take quick notes on what you need to address with your colleagues. 

You will start to realize that the thirty minutes before bed are the most critical moments of the day, where you can reflect on what went well for you, where you can improve in the future, prepare for the forthcoming day and spend a few moments meditating to quiet your thoughts and prepare for a good night’s rest. 

“There is so much to do and such little time.”

As I continue to grow older my responsibilities towards myself and others continue to grow.

I never say I am busy though because I do not have a busy life, but a life which is full. I have a life of purpose and I spend my time on the things which matter and have learned to delegate, ignore and remove responsibilities which are not essential to my life’s happiness, success or pleasure. 

I have learned that as my responsibilities grow in importance I have very little time for insignificant and silly stuff I use to. I no longer have a weekend to wallow over a rude comment from a co-worker, trying to decipher what they ‘truly’ meant from their passive aggressive words. 

I no longer have time to fret about if the baseboards are clean before guests arrive. 

I no longer have the energy to stay in a position which I have outgrown and is no longer challenging me. 

I no longer would accept a relationship which is not making me a better person.

Yes, there is so much to do and there is only a finite amount of time, which is why we should quit spending time as though it were infinite. 

See today as the opportunity to be who you want to be. Do you want to be the person who was late for work because they slept in and could not find their key for thirty minutes? Do you want to be the person who ate a fast food burger in their car, while watching YouTube videos during their lunch or the one who mindfully packed a salad and joined friends outdoors for sixty minutes of recharging? Do you want to be the person others go to, to complain, be lazy or complacent with or do you want to be the person others go to, to be challenged, motivated and recharged to try and try again?

Success is not an endpoint, but a lifelong journey. Some days you win and other days are learning opportunities. Waking up each day with a positive mindset and the determination to make today a good day is half the battle. Do not weigh yourself down with all the days you have failed in the past, but learn from them. Take your learnings with you in stride, but do not carry them around as proof as why today cannot be better than yesterday.

Every single day is another opportunity to build the life you dream of. 

Do Not Quit Before They Reject You

“This is mortifying; I cannot fathom to go into work tomorrow, I think I’m going to quit,” Sarah said as she nervously played with her coffee mug. 

“What are you talking about?” I shot back, “I do not care how bad you think it went, there is no way that it was nearly as bad as you claim it to be.”

“I completely froze and they were all staring at me, it was horrifying,” Sarah said as she covered her face with her hands. 

Sarah had just had an interview for an internal promotion and she felt it had not gone well. She had not been told it had not gone well, this was simply her perception of her performance.

“Perhaps your perception of the situation is the problem,” I said slowly. 

We tend to view ourselves with a much harsher lens than others, especially when it has to do with our abilities. 

“No,” Sarah responded confidently, “I totally fell flat on my face in that interview…it was so embarrassing. I do not even want to go back into work; I regret even applying for the job.” 

The fear of failure is so much greater than an actual failure. Putting yourself out there and trying to better one’s life is nothing one should be ashamed or embarrassed of, but rather, something you should be inherently proud of. 

“You could ask your supervisor for areas of improvement for your next interview,” I said slowly, hoping to instill some sense of hope for the future. “What would the point of that be?” Sarah fired back at me, “to just get humiliated again? No thank you, I am done.”

Sarah was true to her word. She never asked for feedback on her interview, so she was never given a real answer as to why she was not the successful candidate for the position. Everything at work ticked forward, but Sarah remained stagnant, mentally and in her position within the department.

“I’m never applying for another promotion again,” Sarah said defiantly and that seemed to be the closing sentence of the conversation.

Sarah never did apply for another opportunity in her department. She watched as others, who were much less qualified than her, receive opportunities she never threw her name in the hat for. She became moody and negative about her workplace and loathed the start of each week. Her performance at work started to deteriorate and she could not muster the energy to do anything to correct this problem. 

Any person who achieves success also achieves a lot of failures. Success and failure go hand and in hand. One who is successful must also experience failures because it is part of the journey towards success. 

The next time you fall flat on your face, no matter how mortifying it may feel in the moment, remember to try and find the lesson in the pain. There is no one who is extremely successful who has not failed at least as much, if not more than they have succeeded. 

Success and failure are not opposites, but rather part of the same process. In order to become successful, you must experience failure, much more than you would like to, but it is all part of the process.

Throw Away Your Worries: How to Dump Your Drama in the Trash Daily

I throw away at least one item from my house every single day. 

Sometimes it is something large and cumbersome, like a duvet that has seen much better days, other times it is something small and insignificant, like a bill which has been paid, but left on the counter for far too long.

The only true goal each day is to rid my house of something which has served its purpose or is weighing me down.

Unnecessary stuff in your house can be adding to the drama in your life and you may not even realize it. Also, clutter and lack of organization can create an overwhelming environment for you. 

I recall I went to a friend’s house awhile back and she was dealing with a fair bit of anxiety at the time that we were trying to get to the bottom of. When I arrived at her house, her living area looked like a bomb had blown up in it. It was cluttered and disorganized, so I suggested we make a cup of tea and pad up to her room, so that we could talk, calmly and try to figure out what was triggering her anxiety. 

Upon entering her room, the first thing I noticed was a stack of almost a dozen books towering on her nightstand. “Good grief Sade, why do you have so many books on your nightstand?” I could not help but ask upon seeing the daunting stack. “Oh,” Sade responded, “Those are the books I must read. I cannot help the stack being so big, but those are all essential reads, so they will all stay there until they are read,” she stated, matter-of-factly. “Unfortunately, I am so bloody lazy that I have to keep all of those there, as a daily reminder, until I finish those books; hell or high water,” she said, clearly disappointed in herself. 

The idea of walking into your room, a place which should be peaceful and tranquil, to be slammed with a stack of failure or something you have yet to accomplish seems like something which was clearly adding to my friend’s anxiety.

“Don’t you think just keeping one book at a time on your nightstand might make the task seem less daunting?” I tentatively asked my friend, “Doesn’t this giant stack feel like a really big mountain you have to climb?” “That’s the whole point Aman,” Sade shot back at me, “I have to see these books every day, until I read them all because I do not want to let myself off of the hook until I do.”

I do not know if those books ever got read, if they are all still sitting there, with a dozen more teetering on top of the first twelve, but I know that my friend’s system was not a healthy one. 

Make your house a haven. Ensure that you have a clutter-free home, filled with things you love and that bring you joy. Make sure that you rid your house of things which bring you down, have served their purpose or do not add any value. Ensure that your house is setup in such a way that it is inspiring, but not overwhelming, engaging, but not daunting, and comforting, but not cluttered. 

When I moved to a new city, I lived with a friend of mine for a month. My friend’s house was filled to the brim with stuff, I could hardly believe how many things she had. The first morning I was over, I tried to make myself a cup of coffee, but there were so many other gadgets and gizmos piled on the countertops of the kitchen, that halfway through I gave up and just walked across the street to grab my java from Starbucks. 

When I returned my friend was up and grateful for the fresh cup of coffee I had brought for her as well, “Thank you,” she said gratefully. We settled onto her couch to start our lazy Saturday with a nice chat session and I had to ask, “Why the hell do you have so much shit in your house? Like your kitchen, it sure has a lot of brand new appliances, seemingly unused, in it.” “I know,” Aleesha said, “I haven’t gotten around to using many of them, but they are all so expensive and I cannot imagine parting with them. I am sure that I will eventually make use of them.” 

The idea of limiting your life by cluttering up your space with stuff that you might use one day seems preposterous to me. I have a rule in my house, especially in my kitchen: If I do not use it every single day, it cannot be visible every single day. Therefore, the only appliances I keep on my countertops are my Sodastream and my coffeemaker. Everything else I use must have a home in a cupboard because I do not utilize said items every twenty-four hours or less. 

Where you live, how you think, what you think about and how you see the world are all interconnected. 

A cluttered house creates a cluttered mind.

A messy house creates a messy mind.

A disorganized house creates a disorganized mind. 

A house filled with broken objects of the past creates a mind that focuses on yesterday instead of today.

Start seeing your house as an extension of your mind and you will start to see the piles of dirty laundry, unfinished household projects and dusty relics of the past in a very different way. 

When you begin to realize that your house must be clean, organized and inspiring you will begin to realize that the way you think will start to transform as well. 

For example, when you realize that the pile of magazines from 2015 sitting under your coffee table is actually doing harm and is not harmless, so you throw them away, you rid your environment and mind of unnecessary clutter. It is like closing a tab you are not using on the computer, you are now using your energy on what matters more effectively. 

It is when you begin to understand why you should throw away all those size four dresses, which you have not fit into in over a decade. It is not to admit defeat, give up on your goals of healthy eating and exercise, but to see that the space they are taking up physically and mentally are bringing you down daily. 

Start with one item a day. Do not even consider overwhelming yourself by trying to attack an entire closet or room in one day, but simply walk around your house and find one item which you can throw out, donate or sell. Instead of ignoring this recommendation and telling yourself that you will get rid of seven things on Sunday, instead of one thing per day, simply focus on ridding yourself of one item per day. 

As the task slowly becomes a habit, you will realize how invigorating the task will become. You will begin to realize that the habit of ridding the excess from your house is much more consistent and satisfying than spending an overwhelming day or weekend decluttering seasonally or annually. This daily task will also remove the need for an annual purging of your house as well. Start off slow and you will see the potential for the long term success is much higher. 

Why Am I Always Last to Know?

My sister is getting married, she called me the other day to tell me that she booked a venue, that the wedding is in six months and she would love for me to attend. I did not know she was dating someone seriously, let alone engaged and was shocked to find out that she had already set a date. I feel so betrayed, which I know is not fair, but how could she not think to call me a bit earlier? I feel like I am the last one to know anything that is going on in her life and it is so frustrating and do not know what to do about it. 

There are many reasons why someone may not confide in you, but anytime this happens, and it catches you off guard or hurts your feelings, it is a great opportunity for self-reflection.

If someone you love dearly does not call or inform you of a major life change, good or bad,  you might want to reevaluate your relationship to said person. I am not questioning their love for you, I am sure they care deeply for you, but there is something going on which is preventing them from being forthright with you.

People confide in individuals they trust. 

Are you a trustworthy person? Or are you perhaps a bit loose-lipped? Your loved one might not have told you about proposing to their long-term girlfriend because they did not want you to accidentally let it slip out before the big day. 

Reflect on your past experiences with being responsible for another person’s information.  How did you handle it? Did you respect their privacy? Did you not respect the fact that their information was not yours to share with others?

If you are someone who tends to share other’s information inappropriately, this may be the reason people have stopped telling you about things in their life. It does not come from a place of harm, but rather, they have simply established a boundary because of your past precedent. 

Work on respecting other people’s lives more from now on. If a friend tells you about an upcoming job interview that they are super nervous about, realize that this information, even though it may seem harmless to you, might actually be a big secret they are sharing with you. It is not information you should turn around and tell others because you do not know if it is public knowledge and should act as though it is not, until you know better. Even then, if it is public knowledge, it still is not really your information to share, so why are you sharing it.

People confide in individuals whose advice they value.

Maybe your suggestions are not the priceless commodities you believe them to be and perhaps others do not see you as the all-knowing wonder of the universe you see yourself as. I believe individuals who are regularly doling out unsolicited advice deserve a special place in hell, where they have to cohabitate with others who are also always giving out unsolicited advice. 

If someone values your insight, input and advice, they are going to seek it out themselves. If they are not seeking it out, but you are always giving it away freely, they might begin to spend less time with you or divulge less information about their life because the relationship has become grating. 

Individuals who are always telling me what is best for me, regardless of whether or not I have asked them for said information are very difficult for me to deal with. I find it extremely insulting and presumptuous of a person to assume that they know what is best for me and my life. I also start to lose respect for this person if the unsolicited advice does not cease after my attempts at ignoring it, not responding to it or actively letting them know it is not appreciated.

If you are not sure if you are always giving answers to unasked questions, shut up. Simply wait for someone to clearly ask you for your advice before giving it out from now on. It can be very hard to it, especially if you have a strong habit formulated to speak unnecessarily, but I assure you that it will strengthen your relationships if you learn to break said habit.

My friend got a huge promotion awhile ago and had a big celebration this weekend. She invited me the day before the party and quickly told me about the promotion as well, but I felt so out of the loop that I was not comfortable enough to go to the party. I feel like I am not even important to her at all, like, how could I not be one of the first people she called when she got offered the job? I feel like I am not even part of her inner circle anymore and do not know what I have done wrong.

People confide in individuals who do not mock their dreams, goals and plans.

Are you always scoffing at other’s plans for the future? Are you the negative Nelly always pointing out the flaws in your loved one’s plans? Are you the person who is always letting your friends know why their plan will not work and why they are wrong?

If this is the case, why the hell is anyone friends with you, to begin with? No one wants to be mocked, ridiculed or belittled about something that is very significant to them and their future. No one wants to be told that they cannot do something or that they lack the capacity to achieve whatever it is they are trying to achieve.

If you are always seeing the world from the murky waters of a glass half full, then you might not be everyone’s go-to person for exciting announcements. 

For example, no one wants to announce the adoption of a dog to their loved one only to be told how difficult having a dog can be and how much time they will steal from your day.  Your friend who just bought a dog wants you to be just as excited as they are about this new addition to their family. They want you to come over with zeal to meet the new four-legged friend and simply be ecstatic. Also, it is pretty arrogant of you to assume that your friend has not rationally weighed out the pros and cons of such a big decision; give people the respect you would expect from them. 

My son and his wife are moving to another city and I just found the other day. They did not even tell me directly, they told my husband, who then told me. They are leaving in less than two months and feel completely blind-sighted; I am so angry at them for not even allowing me to be a part of such a big decision in their lives. I feel as though I am always the last one to know everything in their lives and it is so cold of them. Don’t they know that I want to be there for them to support them in their lives?

People confide in individuals who are not self-centred.

Are you that person? Are you the person who makes everything and anything about themselves? For example, your friend tells you that they met someone really great and things are progressing really well, but your first thought is that you are losing your friend and that they will be too busy to spend time with you anymore? Do you actually say these things to your friend? 

Are you always able to figure out how another person’s decision is negatively impacting your life and letting them know? If so, you might not be getting informed of major life changes from loved ones anymore. Honestly, the world does not revolve around you and when you are constantly trying to make everything about you, you exhaust those around you.

People make decisions that will impact your life, sure, but that is not reason enough to bogard the good news or major life change. If your good friend just got pregnant and your first comment is, ‘Well there goes my favourite drinking buddy,’ do not be surprised if they start spending less and less time with you. We have to be able to remove our own feelings from a person’s moment of joy. 

A person’s special moment is their moment and has nothing to do with you. Sure, we are all allowed our feelings about big changes, but make sure to determine the right time, place and audience for your feelings because they might be completely selfish and best kept to yourself. 

A few years ago one of my best friends was moving to another country and they were moving very quickly, within a matter of weeks. It was a shocking revelation for me and as sad as I was and as upset as I was, I knew that this decision had nothing to do with me and I had to just support my friend through this big life change. I cried for days after she left and even to this day, there are moments where I miss so much and wish she could be experiencing the changes in my life from a closer proximity. 

Life is not perfect. Life is not all about you. Life is about making relationships work regardless of the distance, difficulties or developments afoot.

You cannot sit and cry, ‘Woe is me,’ everytime something happens to a loved one which is not ideal for your relationship with them. You cannot steal your loved one’s thunder by announcing their pregnancy before they get a chance to. You cannot laugh at your colleague’s big promotion news, telling them that the job is not worth the measly pay increase and then expect to be invited to the celebration party. 

People want to be lifted up and cheered on, not dragged down and emotionally dismembered. 

If you have a lot of free time on your hands, or if you find yourself alone and lonely more than you would like, think about your relationship with others. Think about how you handle change and if you (honestly) are a positive, uplifting person. Challenge your own assumptions about yourself and ask others what they truly think about you. Work on working on yourself. Work on working on your relationships. 

Learn to mind your business and mind your mouth and you will see your relationships blossom, better and become more bountiful.