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For many folks, the holiday season is the busiest, most stressful time of year.

Holiday parties, gift buying, decorating, travel plans, end-of-the-year projects … these are all added on top of your regular business. And life before the holidays was already busy, right?

So what can we do to simplify?

It’s possible, but you have to be willing to change. If you want things to be exactly as they are, you can’t simplify. 

One thing you can do is to ask yourself a few questions. It takes a minute or two to reflect on these questions … but if you have three questions, that will only take about five minutes. That’s worth the time investment if it greatly simplifies your life, reduces your stress, and makes you happier. Take the time now to reflect.

Here are the questions I have found useful:

  1. What are you clinging to? We all cling to things in our lives: our Christmas traditions, our love of sweets, our Internet distractions, our need to be right, our craving for recognition and admiration. We are not usually aware of this clinging, but it feels like a tightness, stress, an unwillingness to let go of how things are or how you want them to be. Take a minute to reflect on what you don’t want to let go of, what causes you this tightness and stress.
  2. Who do you want to spend more time with? Spending time with friends and loved ones is the best way to use your holiday time. But you can’t say yes to everyone: what if you could only choose 3-5 people to spend more time with? Take a minute to think who that might be. Now prioritize your time so that you limit everything else but make time for those people. Make some dates/appointments with them, block off time on your calendar, and make this time actually happen.
  3. What can you let go of? Think of the things you’re striving for, clinging to … can you let go of them? Before you say no, consider how it might be possible. And when you limit things in your life, see if you can let go of the things that don’t make the cut.

Letting go isn’t easy, because if it’s in our lives, that means we’ve already said yes. But if you don’t let go, your life remains complicated. You are trying to say yes to everything, and that means you have too much on your plate. That leads to stress and unhappiness.

Simplicity requires asking these tough questions, and then learning to let go. It isn’t easy, but the alternative is much harder.

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Keep it simple. Live better…

 Set Your Canoe on Fire is a blog about simplifying your life, living better, and getting things done. Mick Logan is a human with a skill set rendered obsolete decades ago. He has learned a thing or two about life along the way.

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