You know how sometimes at work you’re asked what your super power is? Sometimes I think mine is “finding complexity”. I love lists so much I could make a list of my lists. I add things to cross them off, which makes it easy to replace accomplishments with activity. Over the last week, I’ve even started referring to work I’m trying to lead as a Rubix’s Cube.
This summer, my family tried out – and loved! – family camp. Rustic cabins, communal bathrooms, family-style dining, new friends and no WIFI. As I told friends what our summer vacation plans were, I’d get two responses: either that it sounded like heaven or like the worst vacation ever. You’d either love or hate family camp – being lukewarm about it all seems unlikely. Camp has an intrinsic simplicity: meals are at set times, rustic means that when the sun goes down it gets dark, and that since we were on an island, swimming and being outside was a default. Being disconnected from our devices meant connection and community existed all around us. All the “science” behind what makes us happy happens naturally at camp – and we were happy at camp. Obviously, I fall in the “I love camp!” camp, and can’t wait to go back.
I’m open about the last weeks of August and first week of September being … not my favorite time of year. It’s when my good days are the days I own my energy. It’s when all my systems and strategies are tested. It’s when I may not be at my best, and hopefully I’m not at my worst, either. Gretchen Rubin writes about September being the new January, a way to mark a fresh start without “waiting” for the new year.
This year, I’m challenging myself to continue the “aggressive simplicity” I learned from camp. “Aggressive simplicity is the counterbalance to toxic American busy-ness” is one of my new mantras.Tweet
Last year, I introduced 5 questions to find your Happier Labor Day. This year, there is only one question: How can I strip things down to what is essential?
That means a daily to-do list of no more than three things – which requires ruthless prioritization. It means one personal priority a day – which diminishes my also amazing superpower of being able to rationalize almost anything – including not doing something.
Help me learn from you! How do you simplify when things seem complex?